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Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary History and Society

Tuition fee


EARLY BIRD prices valid until 28.2.2019
NORMAL prices after 28.2.2019

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This course explores the development of the popular music style of Heavy Metal. The primary focus will be on the musical elements of the genre, then on its historical features and its relation to contemporary Western society. A number of lectures will be devoted to HM in Finland, where this genre had a particularly successful span in recent times, and characterises musical culture more than in other European or non-European countries.

Learning objectives

The students will appreciate the importance of heavy metal music in Western musical culture, its historical development and the characteristics of the subculture related to the music. This subculture is particularly strong in Finland, and Finnish HM is recognised worldwide as a key manifestation of this musical style. The students will also achieve competences in music theory, sociology of music, music semiotics and cultural studies. Furthermore, the course gives them a solid basis to critically understand popular music genres other than HM.

Course format and teaching methods

Lectures, multimedia material (musical examples, films, documentaries), workshop/seminar activities, group discussions. Classes take place five days a week, from Monday to Friday.

During the lectures (provisionally 9.00–11.00), the teacher discusses the history of HM and its interaction with society and other fields of culture. The teaching methods are:

Reading and commenting on course material (e.g., books, articles), or commenting on previously assigned readings. Viewing/listening and commenting on multimedia material. Class discussion.

After the lunch break, the course continues with regular classes and/or workshop/seminar activities (provisionally at 12.00–14.00). This includes:

- Analysis of readings and audio/video examples about specific topics proposed by the teacher and the students.
- The group work results in writing or slide presentations that will be discussed in front of the class. – Assignments outside the classes are meant to be worked on mainly in teams.
Seminar meetings with musicians or experts in the field of HM studies (see ‘Lecturers and teachers’). – Screening of the documentary film series ‘The Pioneers of LA Hard Rock & Metal’ and ‘The LA Metal Scene Explodes’, kindly provided by Mr Bob Nalbandian. – Once/twice (max.): attendance in the evening at a medium/major HM concert. This is subject to events taking place in Helsinki at the time and on the ticket price (roughly €15–30).

- Students can give a 20-30 minutes presentation during the course, in case they are willing to do so. The topic should be agreed with the coordinator beforehand, and it should be related to the course topics as well as – preferably – to the student’s field of study and expertise.

Target students

The course aims to be as multidisciplinary as possible, encouraging collaboration between students from different academic backgrounds. The ideal candidates are advanced Bachelor’s or Master’s students of musical practice, musicology, social studies, semiotics, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, language studies, gender studies and pedagogy.

Familiarity with music theory is considered a noticeable asset, although it is not mandatory.

Part of the course work includes giving a presentation, and a certain familiarity with the use of the English language is therefore expected (Although applicants are not required to present an official certificate of language proficiency, all students must be fluent in English. A good command of English is necessary for completing the course [following teaching, participating in classroom discussions, writing essays] as well as managing day-to-day matters in Finland.).


Mr. Paolo Ribaldini, paolo.ribaldini(at)
You may contact the course coordinator with questions concerning the course content.

With any other questions concerning Helsinki Summer Schoool or the application process, please contact

Apply now! Summer 2019
Application period has ended
Studies commence
Aug 6, 2019

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States