Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Music

Module overview

This module provides a broad overview of the academic discipline of ethnomusicology. The course surveys the development of the discipline to the present day, and considers major theoretical issues, contemporary themes and approaches within the discipline: music, society and environment; gendered musical identities; music, sustainability and heritage; music and nation, music and transnational flows, diasporic music-making; world music and musical cosmopolitanism. The module pays particular attention to the theory and practice of musical ethnography: field-based research techniques and ethnographic writing.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the discipline of Ethnomusicology and its interactions with allied disciplines, principally Musicology and Cultural Anthropology;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of music as a culturally embedded practice and its potential as a tool for communication and transformation in a range of cultural contexts;
  • Design, carry out, and write up an original ethnographic research project, drawing on suitable research methods and applications.
  • Engage critically with ethical issues in musical research, and apply best current practice in their own research.


  • One hour Lecture, one hour Seminar

Method of assessment

  • One 750 words book review (worth 20%)
  • One 2 500 words fieldwork project (worth 80%)

Suggested reading

  • Barz, Gregory, and Timothy Cooley, eds., 2008. Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Bithell, Caroline and Juniper Hill, 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Music Revival. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Martin Clayton, Herbert & Richard Middleton eds, 2003.The cultural study of music: a critical introduction. New York and London: Routledge.
  • Nettl, Bruno, 2005. The study of ethnomusicology: thirty-one issues and concepts. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
  • Pettan, Svanibor and Jeff Todd Titon, 2015. The Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Post, Jennifer C. ed., 2006. Ethnomusicology: a contemporary reader. New York: Routledge.
  • Rice, Timothy, 2014. Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
  • Stobart, Henry ed., 2008. The New (Ethno)musicologies. Lanham, ML: Scarecrow Press.



Professor Rachel Harris


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