Trapped Deep Beneath the Sewage: Representation of the University in Popular Music


  • Peter Gossman Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Sam Illingworth Manchester Metropolitan University



university, popular music


This article reviews the lyrics of popular music in order to uncover how the ‘university’ is represented in this art form. The lyrics that feature university are coded into themes and these are discussed. The lyrics are initially coded to negative/positive/neutral, but group of more refined themes is also presented. The analysis reveals that whilst the university is still seen as a place of learning, the lyrics of these songs tend to present and represent the university in a negative light. The intention of this article is to promote debate into the way that the university is perceived by popular music songwriters, but also to demonstrate the importance of assessing the place of the university from outside of the (at times) myopic lens of higher educational research.

Author Biographies

Peter Gossman, Manchester Metropolitan University

Peter Gossman is an academic developer in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Sam Illingworth, Manchester Metropolitan University

Sam Illingworth is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University, where his current research involves looking at ways in which science can be used to empower society.


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Original Research