Heavy Metal Now a University Subject in Australia Wednesday July 24 2019, 3:30 AM
Heavy Metal Now a University Subject in Australia

Author: Robert Bell

The huge popularity of heavy metal music makes it one of the most-loved genres around the world. It is listened to by millions of people from every part of the planet. A Spotify study from 2015 also showed that it has the highest number of loyal listeners in many parts of the globe.

So, doesn’t it make sense that such a popular genre should be something that anyone can study in college? Well, this is now the case as an Australian university has opened up the possibility for students to gain a PhD in metal. In fact, they are basing their course on the geography of metal music. What does that mean, though?

The Background

This story comes from the University of Newcastle, which is based in New South Wales in Australia. They recently announced that they are starting up a scholarship program that covers metal as part of their Geography and Environmental Studies area.

The subject will be held in the University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, and will be led by Simon Springer, who is Professor and Director of Human Geography.  He said that he was given “free reign” to bring in students covering areas of personal interest.

Professor Springer went on to say that he himself is a long-time fan of heavy metal music. He pointed out that he would like to have been given the chance to study metal music back when he was a PhD student.   

Two fully paid scholarships worth AU$27,596 each will be given out for this subject. According to the university, they will ideally go to people who have a master’s degree in sociology, geography, or something that is related to these areas. 

So, right now, you don’t need to be a prolific college athlete, looking to be drafted into NFL future markets , to have access to a scholarship. You can just have great knowledge of heavy metal and maybe the mosh pit crowd can take you all the way to college.

This isn’t the first eye-catching course to cover an unusual subject. The strangest PhD and Doctorate courses include the likes of courses in puppetry, packaging, and paranormal activity. 

What Will They Study?

So, what exactly will metal-loving students be doing on this course? Will they be studying the cultural impact of the genre or dissecting the lyrics from the best-known heavy metal songs ever written?

It has been stated that students will be looking into the differences found in metal music from all over the world. They will examine what makes metal from one part of the planet different from the music made elsewhere. In turn, they will look at how the different metal subcultures relate to the wider world.

This is part of the overall program that covers “social geographies across a series of culture”. The Heavy Metal Geographies element is just a part of it. So, the chosen students won’t just be studying music all of the time.  

The course description from the university calls heavy metal a global phenomenon and a major cultural trend over the last four decades. It then goes on to mention the unique “scenes” that have developed around the planet.

Could This Become More Common in the Future?

Perhaps the most interesting question this raises is whether the option of studying heavy metal music is likely to become more common in the future. The truth is that this appears to be a highly specialized course rather than the start of a new, widespread trend.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to study metal elsewhere. For instance, the University of Helsinki advertised their own course , titled Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary History and Society, this year.

However, it seems unlikely that it becomes a mainstream PhD option all over the world. For the moment, the chance to study metal music remains extremely limited and the enthusiasts have to learn more about it on their own.

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