SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Gender and Music (MMus)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The basic objective is to give students the awareness and theoretical background to understand the major role that gender plays in the music cultures of the world. Having completed this course satisfactorily, students should be able to apply the principles learnt to any music culture of their acquaintance.

Transferrable skills are those expected to be developed in any lecture-centred, essay-examined academic course: critical thinking, essay-structuring skills, bibliographic skills, synthesising of data and sources.


  • One hour Lecture, one hour Seminar

Scope and syllabus

Within the past three decades, the relationship between music and gender has become a major field of scholarly inquiry. Among the studies that have appeared, some seek to expand our knowledge of the musical activities of women, others examine how concepts of gender are shaped by practice and discourse through music and dance performance. The approaches that these studies have taken have often followed or been inspired by developments in other fields, ranging from musicology, anthropology and sociology to psychoanalytic theory, Marxism, and feminist theory. This course is an introduction to current trends in the fields of ethnomusicology, critical musicology, and popular music studies, covering not only Asia and Africa (selected cultures) but also, as relevant to the theoretical themes, American and European jazz, pop and classical music.

Gender is a social construct specifying socially and culturally prescribed roles that men and women are to follow. Status issues are integral, with women typically occupying lower status positions than men, but the extent of the gap between the sexes varies between cultures and across different times. There is no such thing as a genderless culture, and as Ellen Koskoff remarked: ‘One’s social sexual identity … is a very central concept in music’.

Method of assessment

  • One 3,500-word essay or 30-minute radio programme (audio file with script) (worth 100%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules