Module WXM-3021:
Ethnomusicology in Action

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Jochen Eisentraut

Overall aims and purpose

This module is an introduction to a range of music from around the world and provides training in the study of people and culture as it is practiced in anthropology, sociology and ethnomusicology. Although work on cultures from various parts of the world will be studied, students will also carry out a fieldwork project on a local music activity, putting into practice principles of research ethics, participant observation and interpretation that have been acquired on the module. Students will have the choice of producing a prose write-up, a short documentary film, or a podcast/radio programme based on their fieldwork.

Course content

Students will be introduced to concepts of culture and consider the place of music in culture. Several specific music cultures will be studied by looking at academic research into those cultures.

The module will provide training in fieldwork, ethnography, ethnographic filmmaking and radio production.

Students will have the opportunity to study and write about music cultures both through the ethnographic literature and by carrying out their own research.

Assessment Criteria


A- to A** Work which displays a thorough grasp of the subject, with evidence of further study, deeper thought, originality of approach and excellent expression and use of the chosen medium.

**Please also see the Explicit Marking Criteria for Musicology:


D- to D+ Work which displays basic, restricted knowledge of the subject with limited ability at conceptual thought, and a limited awareness of issues, but has some evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with fair use of the chosen medium.


B- to B+ The work should display a sound grasp of the subject, a good level of conceptual thought, awareness of the main issues, with evidence of intellectual acumen and very good use of the chosen medium.

C- to C+

C- to C+ Work which displays fair knowledge of the subject, with some ability at conceptual thought (albeit inconsistent or otherwise flawed), and a general awareness of issues, with evidence of a generally intellectual approach, with good use of the chosen medium.

Learning outcomes

  1. On successful completion of the module students will have acquired practical experience of fieldwork, including gaining ethics approval, participant observation, designing questionnaires, and gathering, storing and analysing data in various formats in a skilled way.

  2. On successful completion of the module students will have gained a critical understanding of the different ways in which a number of cultures integrate music with other aspects of personal, social and cultural life, and be able to cogently communicate the complex connections between these.

  3. On successful completion of the module students will have gained a critical understanding of the aims and procedures of ethnographic fieldwork with regard to music, including how it relates to debates about the study of music in culture.

  4. On successful completion of the module students will be able to document, interpret and present their findings convincingly as a piece of academic writing, or in the genre of an ethnographic video or audio documentary.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Fieldwork project

To complete an ethnographic write-up, film or podcast (audio documentary) on a local musical activity. This will be based on interacting with a local musical group and documenting their activities. The submission can be in the form of an ethnographic research paper, or ethnographic audio/video documentary. Professional examples of these will be reviewed and discussed in lectures. Instruction in the technical aspects of all three of these forms will be provided.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


One three-hour class in each of the eleven teaching weeks in two semesters.

Private study 80

Introduction to ethnographic research methods, rationales and ethics as applied in current ethnomusicology. Instruction and feedback on methodology for the fieldwork project. Workshops in presentation methods, including audio production for podcasts and video production for ethnographic documentary.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Reflective practitioner skills, including awareness of the practice of others in collaborative learning (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
  • Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
  • Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list

On Talis.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: