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History, Practice and Study of Community Music - MUS00117M

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Kate Pearson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module explores the development of community music in the UK and internationally, as a vocation and an academic discipline, and examines the current ecology, ethics and ideologies of the field.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module explores the diverse factors that have contributed to the way that community music exists today, both in the UK and internationally. Via an examination of concepts and case studies, the module examines the ways in which participatory music has evolved historically through community activism, developments in education, and through the shifting relationship between the aesthetic and social functions of music. The module also develops your understanding of current events, policies and practices that affect community music today and influence future directions and developments.

You will develop insights into the various issues that affect the way community music activities are structured, delivered and evaluated, and will also become familiar with key ethical, professional and philosophical ideas that support and/or challenge practical work in this field. This module also serves as an introduction to academic research within community music, focusing on working with data, engaging with academic texts, and critical thinking and evaluation skills.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • Apply the fundamentals of community music practice to creative, collaborative activity.

  • Identify connections between past and present community music activities and their historical/cultural contexts, drawing on relevant literature and creative practice;

  • Identify the intentions of specific examples of community music activity and evaluate the activity in accordance with established models;

  • Articulate the role of positionality in the study and practice of community music and recognise potential bias;

  • Select an appropriate methodology for a written study within the field of community music, engage with relevant primary and/or secondary data, and consider ethical implications of research and/or practice.


Task Length % of module mark Group
N/A 100 A
Creative practice and commentary
N/A 100 B

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

One of the following, to form 100% of the module assessment:

  • 3000-word workshop evaluation based on observation


  • 3000-word essay


Alternative options for those with relevant prior experience, with the approval of module leader only, and subject to availability of examiners for any live element:

  • Performance influenced by community music practice, accompanied by 1000-word contextual commentary

  • Composition/arrangement influenced by community music practice (scores/instructions/recordings as appropriate to the type of composition), accompanied by 1000-word contextual commentary


Task Length % of module mark Group
N/A 100 A
Creative practice and commentary
N/A 100 B

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Bartleet, Brydie-Leigh, and Lee Higgins. (2018). ‘Introduction: An Overview of Community Music in the Twenty- First Century.’ In The Oxford Handbook of Community Music, by Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Lee Higgins, 1–20.

Higgins, Lee. (2012). Community Music: in Theory and in Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

François Matarasso. (2019). A Restless Art: How Participation Won, and Why It Matters. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Denscombe, Martyn. (2017). The Good Research Guide: for Small-Scale Social Research Projects. Sixth edition. London, England: McGraw Hill Education; Open University Press.

Veblen, Kari K, Stephen J Messenger, Marissa Silverman, and David J Elliott. (2013). Community Music Today. Lanham: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

Williamon, Aaron. (2021). Performing Music Research: Methods in Music Education, Psychology, and Performance Science. Edited by Jane Ginsborg, Rosie Perkins, and George Waddell. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.