Skip to main content
Unit of study_

MUSC3629: Music and Everyday Life

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

What can we learn from non-textual approaches to understanding music? The primary goal of this unit of study is to study music not as a composer, producer, performer, listener or audience member, but as an ethnographer. That is, analysing music through an observational, experiential and intellectual understanding of how people make and take meaning from music.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MUSC3629
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Catherine Ingram,
Lecturer(s) Catherine Ingram,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Final Project
Mini-fieldwork project
40% Formal exam period
Due date: 29 Nov 2021 at 23:59
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Weekly Diary of Musical Experiences
Weekly reflections on musical experiences, 100-150 words each
20% Ongoing 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO6 LO4
Assignment Analytical Essay
Analytical essay based on the readings from Weeks 2-6.
30% Week 06
Due date: 17 Sep 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Participation Class Participation
Contributions to class discussion.
10% Weekly Weekly contributions
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Weekly diary (20%): Brief reflections on musical experiences, shared online (100-150 words each)
  • Class participation (10%): Attendance and responses to readings
  • Analytical Essay (30%): Critical response to idea of the ‘Other’ presented in readings from weeks 2-6 (2000 words)
  • Final project (40%): Mini-fieldwork proposal, reports and essay (3000 words)

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.


Assessment criteria

Assessment Criteria for Written Work.

• High Distinction (85%+): Work of exceptional standard.

Written work demonstrates initiative and ingenuity in research and reading, pointed and critical analysis of material, innovative interpretation of evidence, develops abstract or theoretical arguments on the strength of detailed research and interpretation. Properly documented; writing characterised by creativity, style, and precision.

• Distinction (75-84%): Work of a superior standard.

Written work demonstrates initiative in research and reading, complex understanding and original analysis of subject matter and its context; makes good attempt to ‘get behind’ the evidence and engage with its underlying assumptions, shows critical understanding of the principles and values underlying the unit of study. Properly documented; writing characterised by style, clarity, and some creativity.

• High Credit (70-74%): Highly competent work.

Evidence of extensive reading and initiative in research, sound grasp of subject matter and appreciation of key issues and context. Engages critically and creatively with evidence, and attempts an analytical evaluation of material. Some evidence of ability to think theoretically as well as empirically. Well written and documented.

• Low Credit (65-69%): Competent work.

Written work contains evidence of comprehensive reading, offers synthesis and critical evaluation of material on its own terms, takes a position in relation to various interpretations. In addition, it shows some extra spark of insight or analysis. Demonstrates a coherent and sustainable argument, some evidence of independent thought.

• High Pass (60-64%): Work has considerable merit.

Written work contains evidence of a broad and reasonably accurate command of the subject matter and some sense of its broader significance, offers synthesis and some evaluation of material, demonstrates an effort to go beyond the essential reading, contains clear focus on the principal issues, understanding of relevant arguments and diverse interpretations, and a coherent argument grounded in relevant evidence, though there may be some weaknesses of clarity or structure. Articulate, properly documented.

• Medium Pass (55-59%): Work of a satisfactory standard.

Written work meets basic requirements in terms of reading and research, and demonstrates a reasonable understanding of subject matter. Offers a synthesis of relevant material and shows a genuine effort to avoid paraphrasing, has a logical and comprehensible structure and acceptable documentation, and attempts to present an argument.

• Low Pass (50-54%): Work of an acceptable standard.

Written work contains evidence of minimal reading and some understanding of subject matter, offers descriptive summary of material; makes an attempt to organise material logically and comprehensibly and to provide scholarly documentation. There may be gaps in some areas.

• Fail (50% and Below): Work not of an acceptable standard.

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: unacceptable levels of paraphrasing and quotation; irrelevance of content; presentation, grammar or structure so sloppy it cannot be understood; submitted very late without extension.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction – What Are We Doing? Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Inventing the Musical ‘Other’ Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 03 Interpreting the 'Other' Through the Social Life of Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 How to Speak to People About Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 05 Having a Personal Relationship With Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 06 Watching People Make Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 07 Understanding Musical Places Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Listening to Music in Public Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Listening to Music in Private Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 11 Experiencing Live Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 12 A Model for Personal Writing About Music Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO4 LO6
Week 13 Feedback on Fieldwork Project Proposals Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO4 LO6

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Understand how to approach the analysis and understanding of music from an ethnographic perspective.
  • LO2. Understand the scope of ethnographic research methods through the reflections of practitioners.
  • LO3. Understand the social, spatial, and experiential aspects of music through prevalent theories in ethnomusicology
  • LO4. Write reflectively and analytically about your own experiences of music and the experiences of others.
  • LO5. Conduct interviews about and observations sessions of musical activities
  • LO6. Incorporate theory and methods into a formal project based on fieldwork and reflections on your own experiences.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Readings for this unit have been slightly modified since it was last offered. In particular, more readings have been included on conducting fieldwork in the on-line context, since it is very likely many students will be doing their mini-fieldwork projects under lockdowns either in Sydney or elsewhere.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.