Ethnomusicology and Musicology

Units in ethnomusicology and musicology offer students the opportunity to study music in various historical, social and cultural contexts.

Students enrolled in the BMus, BA (music major) and BA (music minor) degrees can enrol in ethnomusicology and musicology units. BA students and students enrolled in other degree and double-degree courses across the university can also take ethnomusicology and musicology units as electives.

Units in ethnomusicology and musicology equip students to understand the importance of music and music-related practices in various societies and cultures and recognise the many factors that shape the creation, performance and meaning of musical works.

Studying ethnomusicology and musicology adds value to our contemporary understanding of music and provides depth to our knowledge about music as a creative practice. Furthermore, units in this program enable students to develop lifelong, transferable skills, including clear and critical thinking, analytical problem solving, research techniques and writing and communication skills.

Find out about our Bachelor of Music, and about studying a music major

First Year

All BMus students take the following units from the ethnomusicology and musicology program.

Semester 1: ATS1345 Music and History
Semester 2: ATS1346 Music and Culture


Students may take electives from a range of units reflecting the research expertise of ethnomusicology and musicology staff:

Semester 1

  • ATS1343 Popular music in global perspective
  • ATS2687 The ethnomusicology of improvisation
  • ATS2804 From the erotic to the exotic: Music in the nineteenth century
  • ATS3824 Popular music and society
  • ATS3926 Gongs, punks and shadow plays
  • ATS3144 Music research in the digital age

Semester 2

  • ATS2805 Music, identity and place
  • ATS2900 Writing about music: From headlines to hashtags
  • ATS3061 Music in Australia
  • ATS3153 Music research project
  • ATS3818 Drumming traditions of West Africa
  • ATS3823 Improvising traditions of South Asia
  • ATS3825 Western art music in the 20th and 21st century
  • ATS3829 East Asia and its music: Silk road histories and popular contexts

BMus Specialisation in Ethnomusicology and Musicology

BMus students may elect to change their chief music study to ethnomusicology or musicology after first year.
Students wishing to undertake a specialisation in this area should contact Dr Paul Watt.


This video showcases two excerpts from The Forest of Matra, a shadow puppet performance (wayang kulit) led by puppet-master (dhalang) Ki Joko Susilo (University of Otago, New Zealand), with guest musicians Michael Ewing, Soegito Hardjodikoro and Aline Scott-Maxwell, and the Monash University Gamelan Orchestra (Jonathan McIntosh, musical director).

Eminent Vistors to the School: Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan, Sudhir Nayak

Public lecture by Professor Steve Feld 2015