"Professors are keen on experimenting, and I've benefitted from being given more space to try different approaches to writing."
Flora received a Goldsmiths International Postgraduate Scholarship
"Professors are keen on experimenting, and I've benefitted from being given more space to try different approaches to writing."
PhD Cultural Studies
"First-rate programmes led by dynamic instructors and an open community of ideas where individual interests are encouraged and expanded."
I first heard about Goldsmiths from a lecturer at my first university. He had only great things to say about the student environment, the quality of instruction and Goldsmiths' reputation across the academic culture.
He described first-rate programmes led by dynamic instructors and an open community of ideas where individual interests are encouraged and expanded. He was right.
My pursuit of a PhD at Goldsmiths has been a rewarding experience. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with an extraordinary calibre of students, instructors and visiting academics. I regularly have the opportunity to interact with internationally renowned theorists.
I have attended conferences in Berlin and Copenhagen as a result of my involvement with the Centre for Cultural Studies. Goldsmiths has been a wonderful place to carry out my research.
MA Culture Industry
"I decided to choose the course at Goldsmiths because I felt it was more forward-thinking in its content and form, and more open to other kinds of practices beyond straight academia or exhibition making."
Undergraduate degree: BFA Digital Image/Sound & Fine Arts at Concordia University, Montreal
Previous job before MA: Project Manager, Videotage - Hong Kong's media art organisation
Current Job: Digital Producer at Somewhat, a mobile-first creative agency based in Shoreditch and co-founder of DOXA, an international research collective
I thought the MA course provided a good mix of theory and practice. It was experimental and merged a range of interests in cultural production that was cross-disciplinary. I was actually accepted onto a Cultural Analysis course at the University of Amsterdam, but decided to choose this course at Goldsmiths because I felt it was more forward-thinking in its content and form, and more open to other kinds of practices beyond straight academia or exhibition making.
Studying at the onset of the recession provided me with new perspectives and allowed me to think critically about how the economy operates and the role of culture in society today. During the course I particularly enjoyed reading and learning new areas of thought, which I didn't know how to articulate in my own practice. The texts: ‘Immaterial Labour’ by Maurizio Lazzarato, ‘Capital and Language’ by Christian Marrazi, and ‘Craftsmen’ by Richard Sennett, really inspired me and challenged my thoughts. I now understand my work better within a larger context of social practices, but I have come to realise it is not about following particular cultural trends, but rather collectively coming together with common ideas. My ideas of culture and practice are now much broader in relation to the global economy.
In the future I would like to start my own company or organisation that is self-sustaining and community led, between public and private that supports both research and practice/production. I feel for it to be effective, it must be global and use digital as a tool for knowledge production and distribution. I would advise prospective students interested in this course to think long and hard about what they want to get out of it, and why they are doing the course. I also think it is important to visit the university and meet the professors to get a feel for the place beforehand.
Interviewed by Claire Shaw
MPhil/PhD Cultural Studies
"Goldsmiths is very progressive. The way in which it tackles its objects of study is very innovative, and that was hugely important to me."
PhD Project title: VOODOO SPACE: Event Machines & Media Entanglements
Undergraduate degree: BA Visual Art at Simon Fraser University
Postgraduate degree and course: MFA Media Arts at University of California, San Diego
Previous job before PhD: Director/Curator of the OR Gallery ― Vancouver
Current Job: Projects coordinator and senior research fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College
It was always my life ambition to do a PhD. I was living in a somewhat isolated city in Canada, so I wanted to move somewhere that was a nexus - a city where interesting people from around the world would move through on a daily basis - this is what initially attracted me to London and consequently Goldsmiths.
Goldsmiths is very progressive. The way in which it tackles its objects of study is very innovative, and that was hugely important to me. The demand to think differently about the world is always present, and I do not think I would have had that at any other university. As a researcher or artist, it is very easy to follow your own interests. But when you come into a programme of study, you have an encounter with people who insist that you engage with ideas that you might not have naturally encountered. And when you do, everything changes ― you are transformed by that. I can quite candidly say that I am a different person having spent my time here.
The programmes in the Centre for Cultural Studies and CRA (in which I was based) allow you to be promiscuous about your research project. Of course you need to be rigorous, but eccentricities of imagination are also always encouraged. The experience gave me a whole new set of tools for thinking.
In London I was also able to hear a lot of people speak whom I had only previously read, including Isabelle Stengers. Her work played an important part in my dissertation, so that was great for me. With a shift in geography, come new opportunities to mobilise your work in other cities and other situations. Through Goldsmiths I met all kinds of people who created opportunities for me to develop artworks, projects and writing. I also went to lots of conferences and presented my work in the UK, Copenhagen, Zurich, Barcelona, Frankfurt and New York. This is crucial to assessing your own work outside of the immediate context in which it was developed, to see if it can perform in the way you claim it can without relying upon the specifics of the environment in which it was developed to attain its legibility or coherence.
I think the programme at CCS really helped me enormously in terms of giving me a different vantage point to try out new ideas. A PhD never replaces the knowledge you already had, but begins to solve the problems you brought to it differently. To do a meaningful PhD, you need to embark on that adventure with total commitment. It should never be a means to a job or merely continuation of studies. You have to take the risk that everything will change, and be open to the potential that the ways in which you previously thought about the world will fundamentally be transformed. You should never come out the same person as you went in.
Interviewed by Claire Shaw
MA Political Communications
"Media and Communications department is known for the calibre of its academic staff and quality of their research."
Goldsmiths' Media and Communications Department is one of the best in the UK, known particularly for the calibre of its academic staff and quality of their research. And Goldsmiths itself is a creative and community-minded university, which were both important considerations for me.
The MA in Political Communications benefits from professors who are global leaders in their field, who constantly encourage you to think critically and reconsider your assumptions. It benefits from options to take courses across departments including politics, cultural studies and sociology. Class sizes are small and made up of a diverse group of people with different interests, backgrounds and cultures. And there are few better places to look at the interplay between power, media and politics than London.
I'd been working for over 10 years in international development and media before taking this year off to study. Goldsmiths offered an opportunity to challenge myself intellectually and to reframe my work and how I do it. This is not a how-to course, but a course that challenges how you think. That was an intense and rejuvenating way to spend a year. I expect I will return to my professional life changed and with a new perspective.
MA in Education: Culture, Language & Identity
"Completing my MA at Goldsmiths gave me the confidence to actually identify myself as an academic."
My year at Goldsmiths was phenomenal. The tutors were very supportive both personally and academically. The modules and teaching styles were effective and informative while still maintaining an atmosphere that was comforting and welcoming. Completing my MA at Goldsmiths gave me the confidence to actually identify myself as an academic, as my tutors not only saw me as a student, but also as an author and researcher. I enjoyed the flexibility and the availability of the programme to study and research what I felt most passionate about. The best part of my experience at Goldsmiths was that it allowed me to discover that I can pursue a career in an academic field and gave me the motivation to strive for Doctorate-level study. Coming all the way from the west coast of Canada to study and live at Goldsmiths College has been a remarkable experience.
"Since graduating, I've worked in print, media, TV and radio and the education I got from Goldsmiths gives me a good grounding to tackle any format."
I chose Goldsmiths because I appreciated its reputation as an 'all-round' journalism course. It's one that has a balance between the practical elements and the theoretical components, including media law. This is helpful because with the way things are going with the economy, you can expect to work in all kinds of media. Since graduating, I've worked in print, media, TV and radio and the education I got from Goldsmiths gives me a good grounding to tackle any format.
The course was challenging, but not overloaded with work. I definitely felt I got my money's worth, which is saying a lot for an international student. I really appreciated having a lot of working journalists from across different types of media come to give lectures in class. It opened up a lot of perspectives for me.
The specific technological things you learn, like how to layout a page in Quark, are certainly handy – it gives you a good grounding for other things that you can pick up quickly. Other than that, I'd say the legal part of the course is second-to-none. It's helped me more than once, and has certainly impressed my bosses... more so than other journalists who did other courses!
Immediately after I graduated I was hired to write web content for Teachers TV. It did come about because of Goldsmiths connections. Every subsequent job I've had has held the course in very high regard.
Next, I was working for a company called Russia Today in Moscow. It's an English-language news channel intended for international viewers. Right now, I'm a national newsreader for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) national news -- my broadcasts are heard by people all across the country. Interesting considering I did a print course! I like the job very much - I'm learning loads and it's very satisfying. Since I did a course in print and am now working in radio (and TV in the past) you can see how malleable a Goldsmiths education is and how much it can help you!
"While I was at Goldsmiths, I did work experience for the New Statesman and the Ethical Corporation Magazine."
In my current position I write features but my main focus is news. I also write a blog that covers the public sector, careers, storage, and virtualisation. I work at IT Pro – a web-based technology magazine aimed at technology directors of companies and those interested in new technology. It is owned by Dennis Publishing Company, which is best known for Maxim.
My favourite story was one I wrote in 2007 — I have done interesting things since, but it was one I really enjoyed doing. It was a feature about a girls' school in Afghanistan, and how new technology is helping them run the school. A fundraising campaign spun out of the feature, and one guy in California was so impressed with what the school is doing that he donated thousands of dollars. Pretty exciting.
On the complete other side of the coin, I've done the odd piece of freelance for another Dennis Publishing Company website called Den of Geek, a cult movie/TV/comic site, and got to go the X-Files film premiere, which was actually quite boring, but amusing at the same time.
When I decided to do my MA I didn't have a plan about what sort of journalism I wanted to do. I'm gathering expertise in technology which is not something I'd have predicted, and I get to travel all over the world. I've already been to conferences in Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Dresden, Prague, Moscow and Miami amongst others.
While I was at Goldsmiths, I did work experience for the New Statesman and the Ethical Corporation Magazine. The university does seem to have a really good reputation, I'd definitely say it's got me interviews as people view it as a very good school.
"...Goldsmiths and London seemed like the perfect mix"
I found out about Goldsmiths through my professors during my undergraduate studies in Canada. I was looking for a program that would enable me to further my studies in composing for acoustic instrumentation whilst experimenting with electronics, and I was also interested in living in a different city in another country - so Goldsmiths and London seemed like the perfect mix.
The Creative Practice program offers a lot of variety in regards to what your research can entail, and it definitely encourages students to step out of their comfort zone to seek a greater sense of experimentation, rather than perfection - and the faculty is very supportive of that.
I wrote, composed and produced my first opera during my time at Goldsmiths, which was my thesis project. I was fortunate to have an extremely supportive supervisor, Jeremy Peyton Jones. The work involves fusing acoustic instrumentation, electronics, and texts from WikiLeaks. Here is an excerpt of it: http://youtu.be/O3taXwf1k3c.
When I graduate I'd like to continue working with other artists on collaborative projects, especially here in London, and focus more on my chamber music writing. I've received a commission from a Canadian dance ensemble to compose music for a show in March 2014, and I will also be scoring a film in the new year for a Vancouver-based production company.
"The Centre for Cultural Studies brings together a remarkably diverse and engaged crowd of doers and thinkers from both the political spectrum and the artistic one for nicely heated discussions on the two."
I started the MA as the only student of the group already with a background in cultural studies. Having received my BA in this field from a North American university, I initially took for granted that my experience at Goldsmiths would be a simple continuation of it – ie an interdisciplinary programme between film, performance and media studies. Yet, I couldn’t have been more wrong – for the best, luckily enough.
Building upon the different traditions of cultural studies and continental philosophy, the Centre for Cultural Studies does more than surfing on the buzzword of ‘multidisciplinarity’ and brings together a remarkably diverse and engaged crowd of doers and thinkers from both the political spectrum and the artistic one for nicely heated discussions on the two. I personally arrived there with a set of (incoherent) interests and was immediately met with spot-on feedback and thoughtful insights. I was actually even introduced by two professors to the fields of biophilosophy and computational architecture in which I am currently working with the intent of pursuing them at the PhD level in a near future.
Content last modified: 07 Nov 2014
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