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Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2397-6721
  • E-ISSN: 2397-673X



Since the first degree programme in popular music opened in 1990, the academic field of higher popular music education (HPME) has grown exponentially in the United Kingdom. The current provision includes 128 programmes offered by 47 institutions including Russell Group universities, specialist conservatoires and private providers. The majority of programmes, however, are found within ‘post-92’ institutions, reflecting the political and cultural conditions from which the field has emerged. This article critically appraises the field’s emergence within the frames of higher education policy, discourses of employability and widening participation, the high/low culture dichotomy and the dialectic of commerce and art, which has been identified as a perennial issue at the crux of popular music as a cultural phenomenon. It proposes that the field is characterized by dilemmas concerning its nature and purpose, and that the narrative of HPME’s emergence might serve as a valuable case study against which other young fields or subject areas might be compared and appraised.


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