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Unit outline_

MUSC3639: Music Journalism

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

Even as the 'Age of Newspapers' seems to be coming to an end, human beings' need for authoritative commentary on music remains as strong as ever. Along with surveying the history of music journalism from the early eighteenth century up to the present day, this unit of study offers participants the chance to try their hands at various forms of music journalism.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Charles Fairchild,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Participation
You must attend lecture and tutorial and contribute to class discussion
10% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Live Review
A review of live show
15% Please select a valid week from the list below
Due date: 08 Apr 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 22 Apr 2022
800 word
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Short Reviews
Two short reviews of albums
15% Week 05
Due date: 25 Mar 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 08 Apr 2022
2 x 200 word reviews
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Long Review
A review of a single album
15% Week 06
Due date: 01 Apr 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 15 Apr 2022
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Genre Exploration
An exploration of one genre of music
20% Week 11
Due date: 13 May 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 27 May 2022
1200 words or 10 minute audio/video
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Profile/Interview
A long form interview or profile
25% Week 13
Due date: 27 May 2022 at 23:00

Closing date: 13 Jun 2022
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3

Assessment summary

FIRST ASSESSMENT TASK DUE WEEK 5: 5 x 200 word reviews. 15% of final mark

SECOND ASSESSMENT TASK DUE WEEK 6: 1500 word single album review. 20% of final mark    

THIRD ASSESSMENT TASK DUE WEEK 7: 800 word live review. 15% of final mark

FOURTH ASSESSMENT TASK DUE WEEK 10: Genre exploration of 1200 words or 10 minute audio or audio/visual. 20% of final mark.

FIFTH ASSESSEMENT TASK DUE WEEK 13: 1500 word profile/interview of a figure involved in music (on-stage or off-stage, business or artistic or academic) 25% of final mark.

Assessment criteria

• 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.

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

A penalty of 5% of the maximum mark will be applied per calendar day the assessment is late. After 10 calendar days, mark of zero is given for that assessment.

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: why music journalism Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 02 Philosophy and principles of reviewing/criticism Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 03 Reviewing – short form Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 04 Reviewing – long form Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 05 Live reviewing Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 06 Iconography and imagery as foundational elements Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 07 Creation and deconstruction of mythology Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 08 Genre Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 09 Research Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 11 Interviewing part 1 (preparation) Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 12 Interviewing part 2 (structure) Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 13 Collaboration and visual language Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  

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.

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. Students will gain a nuanced understanding of how music journalism is practiced.
  • LO2. Students will gain a sense of what participation in the craft of music journalism entails.
  • LO3. The unit will place all graduates on a path towards a more critical engagement with the print and broadcast music journalism they will encounter in future.

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.

The assessment schedule has been reordered and reorganised.


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

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