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Gail Wall

The first year's class: Angela Ballard, Gerry Murphy, Gail Wall, George Burton, X, X, Dr. Michael Brocken, Sarah Kellogg, Melissa Davis, Mary-Lu Zahalan; Sarah Reno and Maria Valencia

Angela Ballard

While many colleges and universities in the US, the UK and around the world offer a class in ‘The History of Rock and Roll’ or ‘The Beatles’ in their music or popular culture departments, Liverpool Hope University was the world's first to offer a graduate level degree program concentrating on the musical and social impact of the Beatles.



Nearly 1,000 applications from around the world were reviewed for admission to the inaugural class in Autumn 2009. "Some were just plain looney," recalls Dr. Michael Brocken, the founder and director of the program. Twelve students ranging from their mid-20s to late 50s, from North and South America, up in Glasgow, over in Wales and just down the road in Liverpool,  educators, musicians, an attorney, and a librarian began classes on the creative campus near the City Centre (and the haunted St. Francis Xavier's Church) in October of that year not quite knowing what to expect.

Those looking to spend time in a pub swapping tales of The Fab Four were in for a rude awakening as the course required extensive reading in history, musicology, semiotics, research methodology and written assignments, in-class presentations, as well as the submission of a lengthy dissertation of original research in order to qualify for the degree.

In all, XX students successfully completed the requirements and graduated in the XX years the program was XXX. In 20XX, Dr. Brocken took the decision to retire from full-time teaching and brought The Beatles master's degree program to a close at Liverpool Hope. Close friendships had been forged and continue to this day. Professional associations were also formed leading to the publication of Mary-Lu Zahalan's dissertation in 2011 as Cultural Capital: The Beatles in Canada, the often overlooked story of how The Beatles 'hit' in Canada well before they made their US debut in February 1964. In addition, many of the graduates are now contributing annotations to the next edition of The Beatles Bibliography.


So far, 26 Beatle scholars have been awarded an MA, several with Distinction or cum laude designation.

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