Skip to main content
Joseph O'Connell   BMus (Hons) MA (Cardiff) PhD (Cardiff)

Dr Joseph O'Connell BMus (Hons) MA (Cardiff) PhD (Cardiff)

Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies

+44 29208 74381
33-37 Corbett Road, Room 1.04, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EB


I am a specialist in popular music studies, with particular interest in punk rock, politics, and performer presentation and experience. I have conducted historical research on political rock during the Thatcher era and fieldwork on contemporary underground music-making and performance. I am also a conservatoire-trained clarinettist and self-taught guitarist, and have wide experience of performance in classical and popular contexts.

My teaching reflects my research and performance interests, taking in popular music history and analysis, jazz, and the intersection of music and politics. 










Book sections




My research interests lie primarily in punk rock, politics and notions of authenticity. I am currently part of a research team exploring the role of popular music genres in language revitalization and cultural identity in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Cymru (Wales). The project, Prosiect Puutahitanga, is a collaboration between staff at Cardiff University and the University of Waikato (see

My doctoral research examined the ways in which punk, politics and authenticity intersected in Britain during the Thatcher years, taking in performers such as Tom Robinson, Billy Bragg and Crass, as well as the Rock Against Racism movement, Live Aid and the Labour-party supporting group of musicians, Red Wedge. I have written a chapter on Rock Against Racism and the British-Pakistani punk group Alien Kulture for the Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock (OUP, 2020).

I have also conducted ethnographic research on the UK math rock scene, which encompasses music drawing influence from punk, progressive rock, metal and jazz in terms of sonic and visual aesthetics, and takes a largely DIY approach to performance, recording and distribution. This research was particularly interested in the experience of performers and the current climate of professionalism in underground music-making, and resulted in talks at international conferences and an innovative article for the popular music journal, Riffs.



Year 1: Writing About Music (a module which teaches essay writing practice and develops knowledge of a single work in the Western art or popular music canon: my teaching is based specifically upon Radiohead's OK Computer); Music as Culture (I contribute teaching on the cultural study of popular music and jazz).

Year 3: Jazz, Culture and Politics (a historical survey of post-WWII jazz styles and performers, which highlights and explores key political and cultural concepts present in jazz discourse); Dissertation supervision (I have supervised a wide range of projects on topics within popular music and jazz studies).


I lead the module Music Research in Practice and contribute seminars to the modules Introducing Music Studies, Music, Culture and Politics, and Cultures of Performance. I have also supervised MA dissertations on punk rock and popular music and politics. 



  • 2014: PhD (Music), Cardiff University
  • 2010: MA (Music, Culture and Politics), Cardiff University
  • 2007: BMus, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Academic positions

  • 2018 - present: Lecturer, Cardiff University School of Music
  • 2015 - 2018: Associate Lecturer, Cardiff University School of Music

Research themes


  • Popular music