MA in Art & Politics

"And the most politically indoctrinating thing you can do to a human being is to show him, every day, that there can be no change." (Wim Wenders, The Act of Seeing, Faber and Faber, London, 1997, pp. 52-3)

About the department

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Dr Bernadette Buckley
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Innovative and dynamic, the MA in Art and Politics was launched in 2009 and has already become a leader in its field. It was inspired by appeals to situate 'practice' in terms of a variety of contemporary discourses and the increased incorporation of political and social agendas into art. Our programme is one that views both art and politics differently – ie in relation to a central dynamic of change. 

Focusing on issues that are key to both art and politics, we explore practices and issues related to public space, democracy, equality, participation, justice and affect. By shuttling across art and politics, rather than seeking to produce a synthesis between the two, we probe a range of practices and strategies which, in the encounter between art and politics, play out in numerous forms and very different kinds of social spaces.

Working with a mixed constituency of students from Art; Politics; International Studies; Philosophy; Cultural Studies as well as numerous other disciplines, we take up the challenge to develop frameworks and spaces which are mixed and mobile and which can operate in trans-disciplinary settings. In such a mixed context, questions about  ‘autonomy’ and the political character of art take on renewed vigour and urgency. Similarly we are able to probe art’s potential in times of political and cultural crisis. Why for instance, do contemporary arts practices increasingly claim ‘political’ origins and motivations, while political parties seek the involvement of art and artists of all kinds? Or, what good are practices that are neither art nor politics?

The MA in Art and Politics provides students with the opportunity to explore numerous questions and practices in a genuinely interdisciplinary setting. Working from a strong theoretical basis, the programme aims to better understand a range of empirical, aesthetic and conceptual issues which traverse and exceed both 'art' and 'international' politics.

It aims further to explore those strategies of intervention and those practices and modes of thought which are, as yet, uncertainly situated and to consider how we, as participants in a variety of cultural and public spheres, may yet be able to affect what can be seen, said and thought.

What you study


Video: Click to play
An introduction to what you study on the MA in Art & Politics

The MA programme will cover the following modules:


  • Art & Politics 1: History, Theory, Event (30 credits)
  • Group Project (30 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)


You choose modules to the value of 60 CATS from

A list provided by the Department of Politics at the beginning of the academic year.

A combination of units from:

a) a list provided by the department at the beginning of the academic year, and
b) others units from other departments in the college approved by the Department of Politics, but not amounting to more than 30 CATS from outside the Department of Politics.

Project work

You are required to undertake project-based work in accordance with your own political and aesthetic interests. The purpose of this project-work is to find ways of ‘doing’ politics which employ ‘artistic’ strategies and interventions in their realisation.

Projects have a student-centred material focus, complementing the theoretical emphasis of core and optional modules, and will seek to raise awareness of particular issues and draw attention to their position in the public arena. They may be written, broadcast, performed, curated, made, or involve any other kind of appropriately documented submission.

Training in digital and genetic media will be provided where necessary. Project training is monitored and co-ordinated by the artist-in-residence in the Department of Politics – who will oversee students’ individual needs while ensuring that there is continuity of support and opportunities to identify and build upon individual strengths and weaknesses.

Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference.
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international students. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Entrance requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form


+44 (0)20 7919 7766

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Modules and structure

Core modules

P071016A Art and Politics: Theory History Event 30 CATS

The central goal of A&P1 is to examine, using a variety of historical, theoretical and aesthetical perspectives, the nature of the relationship between Art and Politics. The module cuts across historical trajectories and focuses upon four themes which are central to Art, Politics and the relationship between them. These are:

1. Autonomy

2. Conflict and Pain

3. Power

4. Agency/Affect. 

Underlying these four themes is a single meta-theme – that of change. Each section, in its own way, asks if and/or how it is it possible for particular aesthetico-political theories and practices to affect larger socio-political regimes and structures?

P071019C Group Project 30 CATS

This is a core module for the MAAP programme, meaning that it is compulsory for all students taking the MA in Art and Politics. Like the Artful Dodger in Charles Dickens' Oliver, this module is designed to pick the pockets of politics and art method and produce a set of site-specific practices that avoid overt engagement with either art or politics in the tradtional sense (where art is treated as a set of techniques) through the 'artfulness of politics', through practices of 'tweaking', and by taking theory for a walk, students are invited intio new metal spaces that aim to enable them to develop novel and original site specific projects that, oike a tangent touching a circle lightly, are not just about the site itself but a reflective spaces enabling the production of work that is neither art without a capital A or politics without a capital P. Each year specific sites are chosen and themes considered. Combining site specific work with related theoretical reading the module offers students an opportunity to engage with politics and art as a way of seeing the world differently. These project-based works offers spaces where ideas and proposals can be put into a practice based environments that devolve into material outcomes(s) simultaneously enabling student to reflect upon how and where a public or audience encounters such work.

An indidividual essay that reflects upon the theories being examined (2000 words, 25%), a second individual reflective essay that examines the group project being undertaken (2000 words 25%) and a group mark that assesses the project itself (50%) makeup the assessment criteria of this module.

P071020A Dissertation 60 CATS

The Politics Master's Dissertation is an extended piece of written work of ten thousand words on a research topic of your choice (but subject to approval). It is compulsory for all MA and MRes students who have passed al written papers and is undertaken after the Summer term (i.e. during the 'vacation' period). The dissertation comprises a critical review of the literature and/or original analysis of documentary and/or other evidence on a chosen topic within the fields of your programme. Your work for the dissertation will be supervised by a member of staff with particular expertise of interest in the area chosen for study. The dissertation counts as one full module unit.

Option modules

You choose modules to the value of 60 CATS from 

A list provided by the Department of Politics at the beginning of the academic year.

A combination of units from:

a) a list provided by the department at the beginning of the academic year, and 
b) others units from other departments in the college approved by the Department of Politics, but not amounting to more than 30 CATS from outside the Department of Politics.

Programme specification

To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification.

Graduate Profiles


MA in Art & Politics, graduated in 2010

"The MA in Art & Politics is a fantastic programme. I graduated in 2010 and found the course incredibly stimulating. I started to think in a different way about the relationship between art and politics.

My first degree was in International Relations so this course enabled me to better understand how artistic practises are utilised by international activists.

I'm now working as a Broadcast Journalist at the BBC World Service and know that without this MA, I wouldn't be where I am now. I'm actually delving back into my dissertation for a documentary I'm currently making for the BBC. Well worth it!"


Our graduates come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and embark on highly contrasting career paths. These include careers in curating (both independent and embedded); art practice (both collaborative and individual); journalism (radio, web and print journalism); performing arts; central and local government; work with NGOs (national and international); research (academic and professional); project development, administration and management. Some of our graduates undertake further professional training in law; journalism; education and social work.


You'll develop: a critical engagement with the broad field of international studies, communication skills, research skills, presentation skills.

Content last modified: 09 Apr 2015

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