Popular Music History

Unit code: ACO2014 | Study level: Undergraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
Footscray Nicholson
Kindred Studios


This unit introduces students to the nature and function of musicology, through history and development of western popular music styles from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. Students are encouraged to explore these styles in both academic and practical contexts. The unit covers seminal popular music styles from blues, country and western and jazz through to funk, rock and commercial pop, including relevant sub genres and styles. Popular music styles are examined from aesthetic, historical, local and international perspectives and are illustrated in particular through critical listening of musical works as well as by collaborative musical interpretation. There is an emphasis on the different and complex ways in which music develops stylistically to inform, and form, new musical genres, including aspects of music theory and music production. Students will be encouraged to use and demonstrate knowledge and techniques learned from various styles and eras covered in their own practice and performance routines.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and discern between popular musical styles through the development and production of musical works;
  2. Exhibit interpretative skills and overall musicianship in a variety of musical genres;
  3. Articulate musical nomenclature in relation to popular music styles and theoretical concepts;
  4. Operate music software in the creation of stylistic interpretations;
  5. Apply musicological concepts in a range of musical contexts.
  6. Participate in an academic community of discourse through reflective and critical engagement in academic texts and understanding of principles of academic integrity.


For Melbourne campuses

Hurdle assessment task: Completion of five Academic Integrity Modules

Assessment type: Exercise
Grade: 25%
Applied theory and aural exercises
Assessment type: Report
Grade: 25%
Interactive timeline of a genre or issue
Assessment type: Project
Grade: 25%
Application of software, technology and/or equipment
Assessment type: Presentation
Grade: 25%
Musical presentation

Required reading

Selected readings will be made available via VU Collaborate.

As part of a course

This unit is not compulsory for any specific course. Depending on the course you study, this unit may be taken as an elective.

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