MUS 387 : The Beatles and Bob Dylan

Creative Arts and Industries

2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An investigation of the music, attitudes and public personae of Bob Dylan and the Beatles and how it changed and challenged the musical and socio-political cultures of the United States of America and Britain – and by extension the world. The music is studied alongside other contextual developments in the 1960s including the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the counterculture, the power of youth as a driving commercial and artistic force, and the rapid emergence of musicians as spokespeople for a generation.

Course Overview

The aims of this course are to:

Increase students' musical, historical and cultural knowledge, their understanding and recognition of the popular musical genres that arose and developed in the 1960 and how the musicians of this period shaped, and were shaped by, the social, political and cultural events during that volatile decade.

Present key songs, songwriters and genres from this period – notably the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and those many who followed in their wake – and by listening to and discussing their work, attitudes and opinions in depth to locate them in the wider cultural, political and socio-economic context.
Introduce the notion that music, fashion, the visual arts and literature can shape and be shaped by the wider issues and beliefs of an era.


Wk 1  Introduction: To Begin before the Beginning. Why study the Beatles and Bob Dylan half a century after they appeared? A look back at the music world and social context in the year before they emerged.

Wk2  Bob Dylan: Creating Himself 1961-63. A consideration of the artist's background, the sources of folk, blues and country he explored, and the social and political culture of America (Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War) at that time. A look at American folk music – and specifically the New York folk scene – when Dylan arrived (The Weavers, Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and others)

Wk 3  The Beatles: Inventing Themselves 1960-63. The years before they became famous as a working and training ground in which to absorb and assimilate many musical styles away from the public eye, and how that period shaped them as songwriters and musicians. How those years gave them a musical and performance platform that no other pop music group at the time had, and what that allowed them to achieve in a short period of time once the spotlight hit them

Wk 4  1964, The Year of the Flood. Dylan captures the mood of his generation with songs about Civil Rights and repression, specifically in works like The Times They Are A-Changin' and Blowing in the Wind. How the Beatles came through as a musical phenomenon with songs which were both fresh yet familiar, and how the British Invasion which brought blues and rhythm'n'blues back to American audiences. The cultural shift in popular music from the US to Britain. A look also at how fashion, style, image and art changed at this time and the synaesthetic relationship between the art forms.

Wk 5   1965-1966, Teenage Pop Matures into Rock. Popular music graduates beyond boy-girl love songs into songs about political change (Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson) as Bob Dylan and the Beatles extend the range of what is possible musically and lyrically . . . and why that was possible at that time. A look at songs which address open sexuality and drug use, both of which were rapidly emerging into the public conversation with the Pill, rising divorce rates, the decline of influence of traditional Western religions, marijuana and LSD. The emergence of folk-rock as a separate and identifiable genre.

Wk6   Full Speed Ahead to a Screaming Halt. Bob Dylan's meteoric career stops overnight just as the counterculture he was in the vanguard of emerges as a powerful social and political voice. A look at songs and artists who picked up the mantle and advanced various agendas, notably anti-war songs as the conflict in Vietnam became increasingly deadly and unpopular.


Wk 7    Sgt Pepper, Private Dylan and a Harder Kind of Protest. The Beatles too retreated after Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and All You Need is Love which capture the zeitgeist, and the cultural shift was from London back to the US with the rise of hippies and increasingly militant music from black artists. Many songs addressed social and political issues directly in a way which hadn't been seen before.

Wk8   The Time is Right for Fighting in the Street. Less than a year on from the Summer of Love in mid '67 came the year of violence, assassinations (Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy), demonstrations, riots in the black ghettos and the rise of militant groups like the Weathermen and Black Panthers. And all of these events were reflected in the popular music of the day . . . which sometimes also advanced the cause of violence, rebellion and dissent.

Wk9   The Path Out to the Country. Amidst the militancy and violence Dylan returns with a quiet, thoughtful acoustic album of songs steeped in Biblical imagery and ideas of an older America. The Beatles who had all but disappeared for eight months also return and they too are very different. Mostly these artists are now apolitical but also, perhaps unwittingly, opening up popular music in a new direction, one where folk and country music and older values are explored. A look at how Dylan's new sound trickled down to the present day in what we know as It would be the third time in that decade where Dylan had changed the direction of popular music (folk, folk-rock and now country) The parameters of popular music now range from hard rock to quiet country ballads.

Wk10  1969 and the Changed Landscape of Music. A look at how artists were now exploring ideas beyond three minute pop and rock songs but dealing with larger issues across concept albums. The beginning of the end of the Beatles.

Wk11    The Drifter's Escape and the Beatles Disintegrate. Dylan willfully releases aberrant music so he is no longer seen as the spokesman of his generation, the Beatles break up acrimoniously and in the wake of the optimism of the Woodstock Festival and the debacle of the Rolling Stones' murderous Altamont concert the counterculture is in disarray, the hippie dream appears to be over when the murderous activities of Charles Manson are revealed (and many hippies/counterculture people head into the rural life or mainstream jobs) and the optimism of just six years before is eroded. And the music reflects all of that.

Wk12  Summary and the Legacy of the Sixties. A look back at how Bob Dylan and the Beatles expanded the parameters of what was possible and permissible in popular music, and their long legacy which – at least in white popular music – extends to this day. But also a look at some aspects of hip-hop of today which owes a debt to these artists and that decade.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage II in Music or Transnational Cultures and Creative Practice, or 15 points from ANTHRO 202, 217, 225, or 234

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Music

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify and discuss the work of important popular music artists who emerged in the 1960s and to be able to relate them to the rapid cultural and musical change of that period. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Display a sophisticated knowledge of the origins and developments of the genres and artists which emerged during that period. (Capability 2 and 4)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the changing socioeconomic and cultural climate of the period under discussion and how this is reflected in songwriting, compositions, performances and recordings. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Identify and critically assess the specific musical and lyrical innovations of key artists whose work shaped and refined popular music then, and how that has affected subsequent writers and performers. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship of various art forms, musical genres and disciplines, and to extrapolate that understanding into contemporary culture. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignment 1 25% Individual Coursework
Assignments 2 20% Individual Coursework
Assignments 3 20% Individual Coursework
Research assignment 35% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Assignment 1
Assignments 2
Assignments 3
Research assignment
Assignments are to be submitted, according to submission type specied on Canvas, by the due date. In the event of illness or other circumstances that prevent completing an assignment, please contact the course coordinator with evidence as appropriate before the due date. Late assignments that do not have an approved extension will be penalized 10% for each day or part thereof. No assignment will be accepted after that assignment has been returned to students.

All assignments will be submitted online.
Note: all assignment topics will be posted at least three weeks before their due date

Assignment 1 due Monday August 15 Noon (Wk 5)
Assignment 2 due Friday September 17 noon  (Wk 7)
Assignment 3 due Friday October 8 noon  (Wk  10)
Research assignment due Monday October 25 noon (start of the first week of  study break)

A pass in this paper is 50%, a total derived from the 100% possible (ie. 50/100)
There is no exam for this paper.

Teaching & Learning Methods

This course will be lecture-based in which topics, themes and the course direction will be made clear by notes, handouts and numerous visual and musical examples. This aspect of the course – which will require students to take notes and be engaged – will take place in the two-hour lecture.
For the seminar hour students will be expected to have revised the lecture and be familiar with the material (historical, music) and also have read any material handed out for discussion in the seminar.
Please note, the course is loosely chronological and follows some very clear themes and ideas so it is not difficult to follow the broad outline, but it does require considerable listening and research, as does any third year course.
Students are therefore expected to attempt a high level of reading, research and contribution to discussions.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.
For this course, you can expect 24 hours of lectures, 12 hours of tutorial, 24 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 90 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.
This is a third year academic course and a very high standard of engagement, research, reading and listening is required.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

This course will be delivered by two hours of lectures for each of the 12 weeks as well as a one-hour tutorial each week.

Lectures will involve relevant discussion and notes, visual material (video clips, images) as well as music played to illustrate key points, artists and styles.

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including tutorials.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events including group discussions/tutorials.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

There is no set textbook for this course. Comprehensive weekly reading material for each lecture/theme will be made available through Canvas or by way of handouts. This material should be read in advance of each lecture and seminar. Especially in seminars students will be expected to contribute to discussions on the basis of having read the provided material. The lecturer will provide details of how to access listening material. The following DVDs and books provide useful supplementary material. The lecturer also has considerable book, DVD and CD resources which may be borrowed.
All of the music is available on Spotify.
Students are expected to read widely and in depth around the topics covered, concomitant with other Stage III level papers. This reading and research will be reflected in assignments.

Recommended or Supplementary Reading (Readily available in libraries)

Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties by Ian MacDonald
The Beatles; All These Years, Tune In Vol 1. by Mark Lewisohn
The Beatles, by Bob Spitz
The Beatles' Second Album, by Dave Marsh
Can’t Buy Me Love : The Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould
Revolt into Style: The Pop Arts by George Melly
Rock, the Primary Text: Developing a Musicology of Rock (2nd ed.) by Allan F. Moore,
White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties by Dominic Sandbrook,
Tell Me Why; The Beatles; album by album, song by song, the Sixties and after, by Tim Riley
1963: The Year of the the Revolution; How Youth Changed the World with Music, Art and Fashion, by Robin Morgan and Ariel Leve
1965; The Most Revolutionary Year in Music, by Andrew Grant Jackson
1968: The Year That Rocked the World, by Mark Kurlansky
Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bb Dylan Vol 1; 1957-73, by Clinton Heylin
Chronicles, Vol 1, by Bob Dylan
Hard Rain, A Dylan Commentary, by Tim Riley
The Mammoth Book of Bob Dylan, edited by Sean Egan
Dylan, Behind the Shades, The Biography, by Clinton Heylin

DVDs (Some of these may be harder to find than others but the lecturer has copies you may borrow)

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, by Martin Scorsese DVD set
Bob Dylan, Dont Look Back, a film by DA Pennebaker (Deluxe edition preferable to the single DVD)
Beatles Anthology dir. Geoff Wonfor and Bob Smeaton DVD set
The History of Rock ’n’ Roll [Andrew Solt Productions] DVD set
All My Loving dir. Tony Palmer DVD set
A Hard Day's Night dir Richard Lester
Crossfire Hurricane , The Rolling Stones: DVD
The Kids Are Alright, The Who DVD
A Technicolour Dream DVD
Please note: This course focuses exclusively on the 1960s so Bob Dylan's subsequent career need not be explored. There is a natural cut-off point at the end of that decade which will be clear (and the Beatles conveniently broke up in 1970)

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Other Information

Extensions on assignemnents
These are given sparingly and only under special circumstances (medical, urgent family matters etc) which students can verify by documentation. Having other course work due is not a reason for an extension. You are given ample notice about topics and dates due, and we expect you will plan your time accordingly. Extensions are never granted on the day an assignment is due or afterwards unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Please note that calculations of lateness are based on the date of receipt of the online submission.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

In the event of unexpected disruption

We undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions, the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. In the event of a disruption, the University and your course coordinators will make every effort to provide you with up to date information via Canvas and the University website.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 28/06/2021 07:11 p.m.