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MUSI103 Popular Music

An overview of popular music with studies in the role and function of music in popular culture in global context. (No prior musical knowledge required.)

Popular music is a powerful contemporary phenomenon, but it is also part of a wider picture. Most of the songs we hear have been created within an international, globalised culture industry. They express cultural values and ideologies, and we use these as a way of (re)constructing our own - and others' - identities. In this paper, we investigate theories of popular culture as they relate to music, analyse the many functions of popular music (including its role in film, television and gaming) and discuss the music industry. This paper explores these topics using a case-study approach.

Paper title Popular Music
Paper code MUSI103
Subject Music
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Schedule C
Arts and Music
No prior musical knowledge in music notation and theory is required.

Teaching staff

Paper Coordinator: Professor Henry Johnson
Teaching Staff: Professor Henry Johnson
Dr Ian Chapman
Dr Michael Holland
Dr Maddy Parkins-Craig

Paper Structure

This paper covers popular music in a global cultural context.

Teaching Arrangements
Two one-hour lectures and one 50-minute tutorial per week.
Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Course outline

Please contact the School of Performing Arts ( for a copy of the most recent paper profile.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  1. Develop an understanding and appreciation of music in popular culture
  2. Gain an understanding of the relevant theories and research methods in field of popular music studies
  3. Gain an understanding of multiple disciplines that inform studies of popular music
  4. Develop an understanding of the historical contexts through which popular music is produced and consumed
  5. Increase self-confidence in the analysis and understanding of music in popular culture
  6. Develop analytical skills that can be more widely applied throughout their degree programme

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22
Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-14, 16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A2 Wednesday 11:00-11:50 10-14, 16-22
A3 Wednesday 12:00-12:50 10-14, 16-22
A4 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10-14, 16-22
A5 Wednesday 14:00-14:50 10-14, 16-22