Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

Music, Culture and Diversity examines the multiplicity of forms and styles of traditional and popular music found among various cultures of the world and the crucial roles music plays in each culture. This unit explores the contexts in which music occurs and considers the ways these contexts shape the structure, performance practices and aesthetics of music in diverse cultures. The use of music in ritual, both sacred and secular, its role in identity formation for individuals and cultures, and the ethical considerations that arise out of these dimensions of music practice are also considered.


The aim of this unit is to develop musicians who are culturally competent in the way they engage with diverse types of music.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify the ways in which music can convey meaning, and the role music plays in the context of ritual action (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)

LO2 - Demonstrate understanding of the music of diverse cultures together with knowledge of the forms of expression, role and cultural importance of music within these cultures (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Apply appropriate discipline-specific terminology in written and oral communication (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Critically analyse musical materials and scholarly readings (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)

LO5 - Construct evidence-based arguments and narratives around the music of diverse cultures (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • A survey of traditional and contemporary music and music making in diverse cultures
  • An introduction to the research practices of ethnomusicology through a study of selected styles and genres, using recordings and performance materials that highlight key aspects of styles and aesthetics from a range of cultures
  • The ethical issues that arise out of music practice of diverse cultures
  • The function of music in forming cultural and personal identity
  • A study of the meaning and value of music in the context of ritual action in sacred secular contexts.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students will engage with modules designed to build foundational knowledge and skills in the analysis of music using predominately aural examples. Early modules will introduce students to the concept of music culture and understanding of it in terms of its core  components. Students will participate in formative activities in aural recognition and the description and analysis of music examples. A feedback loop approach to learning will enable students to progress to more intricate and sustained investigation, analysis and critique culminating in the completion of original research task focused on music selected from diverse music cultures.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments in this unit are directly aligned with the Learning Outcomes to scaffold the development of skills in the structural and functional analysis of music from diverse music cultures. A range of tasks associated with assessment items one and two work to develop the knowledge and skills needed to complete the research report. This third assessment requires the application of knowledge about different cultural practices relating to music and the capacity to critically analyse musical materials to create evidence-based narratives or arguments around diverse music.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

In-class listening and writing tasks

Requires students to develop skills in aural recognition and description of music, and to become accustomed to working with musical examples from diverse cultures. The tasks provide early feedback to students regarding knowledge and skill development.  The tasks consist of multiple choice or short answer papers based on readings and audio materials from the unit and may be completed in-class or online.


LO1, LO2, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Music analysis tasks

Requires students to complete a music analysis task that scaffolds the development of skills in musical analysis (melodic, harmonic, structural, stylistic, text and contextual). Students investigate examples of music, developing facility in the critical appraisal of the key features of an individual music example in relation to the fluid and dynamic evolution of the components of its originating music culture. The task may be completed in-class or online.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Research report

The purpose of the research report is to provide an avenue for students to research selected music cultures and analyse examples of music drawn from them. Students are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills developed through the unit in the context of a longer and more sophisticated medium. The final document, including audio samples will be submitted online.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Alves, Bill. Music of the Peoples of the World. 3rd ed. Boston: Schirmer, Cengage Learning, 2013.

Bakan, Michael B. World Music: Traditions and Transformations. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012.

Hijleh, Mark. Towards a Global Music Theory: Practical Concepts and Methods for the Analysis of Music across Human Cultures. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2012.

Holmes, Thom. Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Fifth ed. New York, NY; Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016.

Miller, Terry E. World Music Concise Edition a Global Journey - Ebook and Mp3 Set Value Pack. World Music. Edited by Andrew Shahriari. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2014.

Nettl, Bruno. Excursions in World Music. 7th International student ed. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017.

Schippers, Huib, and Catherine Grant. 2016. Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures: An Ecological Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shuker, Roy. Understanding Popular Music Culture. Fifth ed. Routledge, 2016.

Tenzer, Michael, and John Barlow Roeder. Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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