Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Units in Musicology and Ethnomusicology offer students the opportunity to study music in historical, social and cultural contexts.

The Units are studied by students enrolled in the BMus and BA (music major) degrees and may be taken as electives in the BA and many other degree and double-degree courses across the university.

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

Studying musicology and ethnomusicology 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 and BA (music major) students take the following units from the musicology and ethnomusicology program.

Semester 1: ATS1345 Introduction to Western Music
Semester 2: ATS1346 Introduction to World Music

Second and Third Year

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

Semester 1

  • ATS1343 Popular music and culture: From spirituals to YouTube
  • ATS2804 From the erotic to the exotic: Music in the nineteenth century
  • ATS2805/3818 Global popular and roots music
  • ATS3818 Global popular and roots music
  • ATS3824 Music in society: Musicians, performances and institutions
  • ATS3829 East Asia and its music: Silk road histories and popular contexts

Semester 2

  • ATS1342 Music and popular culture: Asia
  • ATS1344 Living gamelan: Gong-chime cultures in context
  • ATS2900 Music aesthetics and criticism
  • ATS2926/ATS3926 Performance studies: Indonesian gamelan
  • ATS3061 Music in Australian society
  • ATS3823 Music of north and south India
  • ATS3825 Western art music in the 20th and 21st century

Chief Music Study in Musicology and Ethnomusicology

BMus students may elect to change their chief music study to musicology or ethnomusicology after first year and study in small groups with expert staff. Students wishing to undertake a major in either area should contact Dr Paul Watt.

Quotes from our students and graduates

‘The Honours programme in musicology at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music was a wonderful experience. Not only did the programme build upon my research interests, it also broadened my view about musicology. One of the most important aspects of the course is its emphasis on critical thinking, which gives a fine preparation for postgraduate studies and career success. The research environment at Monash is supportive and encouraging. Having the chance to study here with highly qualified staff was truly exceptional!’

– Thomson Ng, Master of Studies student, University of Oxford

‘When I returned to study in my late twenties I was a little apprehensive about the “academic” subjects within the course, but I found the variety of musicology subjects actually benefited my composition major. Gaining an understanding of Indonesian Gamelan gave me greater scope to muse the age old question ‘What is music?’, whilst Music in Society left me with a greater consciousness of the audience involved in each of my compositions. The flexibility of topic for the first-year essay allowed me to write on an area of interest, resulting in a good mark and plenty of confidence going into the rest of the course.’

– Warren Lenthal, Production Department, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

“When starting my Bachelor of Music degree at Monash, I had no idea of the opportunities that I would receive with a major in Musicology. Over the three years, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of amazing staff members at Monash who specialise in the many fields of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

I am proud to be in the final year of my Bachelor of Music, with a major in Musicology, knowing that I will graduate with more knowledge and experience than I could have ever expected to receive.”

– Rachel London, Musicology major