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MUSC 171/3.0 Social History of Popular Music

Course applicable to the following Majors / Medials/ Minors:    MUSC (core) / MUTH (core) / LIBS (option) / Con-Ed Teaching Subject (History)
Course Instructor: Shara Rambarran - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This course is available in:   Summer and Fall at the BISC
Course Prerequisites / Exclusions:   None

This course was an amazing way to look at the cultural and social aspects of popular music, while still learning how to analyze and interpret the music itself. This is a course I would recommend to anyone interested in music!


Course Highlights:

This course offers a unique way of appreciating popular music. Apply further meaning to music by analyzing its historical and socio-cultural contexts.

Students will think about why popular music plays such a significant role in the following: personal/social situations, identities, cultures, political events, work, leisure, nostalgia and more.

Develop your debating and critical thinking skills as you discuss songs, artists, songwriters, producers, and audiovisuals with your classmates.


MUSC 171/3.0 Social History of Popular Music

A survey of important trends in 20th century Western popular music. Topics include genres, individual artists and groups, record labels and stylistic trends, and sociological issues.

This course is designed to engage students to learn about the developments of popular music. Initially focusing from the 1950s to current trends, there will also be an insight on earlier eras in which other forms of popular music was heard. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course as successful student will:

  • Understand the musical stylistic features of significant styles and genres (such as Blues, Rock, Pop, Soul, Reggae, Dance, Hip Hop, Electronica) by referring to artists, musicians, performance, recording industry and technology.
  • Develop their musical knowledge by understanding the events, issues or intertextual aspects that contributed to popular music.
  • Gain an insight to popular culture, social, cultural and critical theory—otherwise known as popular musicology.
  • Learn the appropriate analytical and musical vocabulary to question the authenticity, identity and performativity of a performer.
  • Be able to participate in the topics discussed, and share their personal taste in music by offering a critical judgement or evaluation via debates, presentations and written work.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Some examples of previous ELOs for this course include, a Rock & Roll walking tour of Soho, a guest lecture by Dr Mike Dines, co-founder of the Punk Scholars Network and trips to attend gigs including: The Feeling, Krs-One, Maxi Priest, Aswad, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, George Clinton and The Family Stone.

Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
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