MA in Cultural Studies

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Centre for Cultural Studies

Course overview

This programme brings cultural studies into today's global age, offering both an integral grounding in critical thought and an active engagement with media, technology, aesthetics, and geopolitics in their contemporary and historical forms.

The MA in Cultural Studies is the flagship programme of Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies, and is one of the leading programmes in the field today. 

It specialises in advanced cultural and critical theoretical exploration of culture as developed up to the present day in the UK, Europe, North America, and Asia.

An intensive study in critical and cultural theory

The Masters provides an intensive study in cultural and critical theory and in substantive cultural studies. Specialising in advanced theoretical inquiry, our course of study will give you a groundwork in cultural analysis that allows you, as it has countless graduates of the programme, to pursue further research in the field as well as a variety of cultural work in the world at large. 

International focus

Unique in its international focus, the programme offers you essential grounding in the various methods and approaches associated with the theoretical and practical exploration of culture in its contemporary and historical iterations.

You will have the opportunity to shape your programme of study in accordance with your own interests and select from a wide range of modules taught by internationally recognised research staff with expertise in Continental philosophy and aesthetics, comparative literature, media technologies, digital culture, art, and global geo-politics.

Innovative and interdisciplinary

Your experience on the MA will be driven by the Centre’s commitment to innovative and interdisciplinary methods, practice-led research, and meaningful engagement with culture and politics.

Find out more about:

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Lisa Rabanal

Modules & structure


You will take two core modules together with a selection of individual modules, and complete a Masters dissertation. The first core course covers the breadth of advanced contemporary theory. It enables you to study the most advanced theorists of and questions surrounding the ‘new’ cultural theory represented by such figures as Foucault, Deleuze, Negri, Badiou, and Agamben.

The second core course extends this groundwork by familiarising you with the genealogy of critical theory and its basis in the history of philosophy and aesthetics. Key positions in contemporary critical discourse on art, society, politics and culture are discussed with reference to the conditions of their formulation and in context of their provenance in the history of critical thought from Kant, Hegel and Marx to Freud, Husserl, Benjamin, and Irigaray. 

Alongside the core courses, you select from a range of specialist options that introduce a material focus to the theory covered – for instance, in digital and genetic media, in urban space, in the creative industries, in art and in textual, visual and audial cultures.

In addition, a team-taught seminar introduces you to the methods of cultural analysis and specialist expertise represented by the Centre's research faculty, preparing you for individual research.

After the completion of coursework, the dissertation is undertaken over the summer term, allowing you to explore your own interests in cultural analysis, and providing a solid groundwork for further study or engagement in cultural work at large.

Core modules

Module title Credits
  Cultural Theory 30 credits
  Crisis and Critique 30 credits
  MA in Cultural Studies Dissertation (Methodology and Research) 60 credits

Recommended option modules

You take option modules to the value of 60 credits. Modules can be chosen from across Goldsmiths departments and centres. Below are a number of option modules especially recommended for your programme:

Module title Credits
  Digital Culture Practical Methods 1 15 credits
  Postcolonial Theory 30 credits
  Theories of the Culture Industry: work, creativity and precariousness 30 credits
  Practices of the Culture Industry 30 credits
  Media Philosophy 15 credits
  Biopolitics & Aesthetics 15 credits
  Software Studies 15 credits
  Critical Theory (15 credits) 15 credits
  Critical Theory (30 credits option) 30 credits
  Globalization: Politics, Policy and Critique 30 credits
  Embodiment and Experience 15 credits
  Strategies in World Cinema 15 credits
  Politics of the Audiovisual - Moving Image Studies pathway 15 credits
  An(Other) China: Postcolonial Theory, Postmodern Concerns 30 credits
  The Political Cultural Economy of Global Finance 30 credits
  Digital Culture Critical Theory 30 credits.
  Literature and Philosophy 30 credits
  Reading Freud: Love & its Vicissitudes 30 credits
  Sound Agendas 30 credits
  Philosophies of Music 30 credits
  Cultural Studies and Capitalism 30 credits

Other option modules, by department

‌You may prefer to look through the full range of optional modules available across Goldsmiths departments:

Please note that the modules can change from year to year, and not all the modules listed may be open to you – your final selection will depend upon spaces available and timetable compatibility.

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.


In the Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS) we’re dedicated to
theoretical and practical explorations in contemporary culture

Centre for Cultural Studies

We specialise in the study and design of culture: media technologies, software, art, urban space, and interventions in global geo-politics, for example. We engage at the same time in serious theoretical enquiry.

As a student in CCS you can benefit from our extensive events programme, which includes regular talks, workshops and film screenings. We also work closely with the Media, Sociology and Art departments at Goldsmiths, all of which have world-leading reputations.

Find out more about the Centre for Cultural Studies.

Student work

Recent dissertations completed by students include:

  • Dead Cheap (a visual and theoretical exploration of low-value aesthetics in Kant, Hegel, Benjamin, and commercial streets of London)
  • Difference wants: Heidegger's and Deleuze's interventions into the Kantian duality of spontaneity and receptivity
  • Towards a Communist Conception of Love: On Love and Communisation Theory (Tiqqun, Agamben, Badiou)
  • Beyond Duty: On Computer Games as Cybernetic Systems
  • Chasin' the Devil: A Dub Anthology
  • A Drop of Hope in an Ocean of Impunity: An analysis from the Memory Studies of the Parque Monumento in Trujillo, Colombia
  • The Vicissitudes of Life: An aesthetic conception of life between vitalism, mechanism and biology (after Kant)
  • The Aesthetics of Drone Warfare: Military Strategy, Representation, and Proportionality (Agamben, Virilio, Blanchot, Wendy Brown)
  • Immanent Cuts, Separated Histories: Badiou and Decolonisation
  • Art and Immaterial Labour: Chinese Variations
  • Violence and Sovereignty: Cinema and the Political in Colombia
  • The Digital Uncanny
  • Towards a Legibility of the Ligature: Lecture, Gesture, Composure
  • "A loosening of the self": Intoxication and Technocracy in Walter Benjamin and the Counterculture of the 1960s
  • A History of the Militant Subject: On the Modalities of Political Agency in Contemporary Culture Industry (Benjamin, Adorno, Foucault after Kant)
  • The Crisis of the Book: A romantic revision for the current publishing industry
  • The Acoustic Unconscious: The applicability of European notions of time and consciousness to the case of Cueca Chilena (Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin)
  • Designing Viruses: A Genealogy of the Virus in the Regulation of Life, as accounted by viral marketing, cyberwarfare, and virology
  • Image as Representation, Image as Non-Representation, Image as Presentation: The concept of image in Western Philosophy and the Xiang/Image in Classical Chinese Thought 

Skills & careers


Around half of students completing this programme progress to PhD level, and others go into practical work – in the creative industries and in NGOs in a great number of countries.


High-level knowledge of cultural research; transferable skills within social and critical theory, aesthetics and performance, communication and multimedia; ethnography skills; critical appreciation of current debates in the media, the culture industries and the wider contemporary cultural environment.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Student profiles


"Goldsmiths is known to be an open space for ideas, creativity and sparkling notions about art."

"The first time I heard about Goldsmiths I was working for Random House in Mexico, and a few friends told me about the attitude the university had about education. Without any effort I found that they were right, as Goldsmiths is known to be an open space for ideas, creativity and sparkling notions about art. When I decided I wanted to be part of this community I was trying to comprehend the value of culture in Mexico via the publishing industry, so I thought it would be a perfect joint to study cultural studies in a place like Goldsmiths with my localized curiosity about the Mexican cultural field. I was fortunately granted the Banco Santander Scholarship, which happily allows me to focus in my studies and engage with the British culture in all its richness."


"The course allowed me to understand the industry I work in as a field of cultural production, and how I can interact with it and with all its philosophical and political implications."

“I chose this course because I wanted to complement my studies in economics with a more philosophical approach. I felt the course could teach me how to contextualise my work in the publishing industry within a critical interpretation of culture and cultural production, as well as improve the theoretical foundations of my writing.

I particularly liked the department of cultural studies and how it provided a truly interdisciplinary approach, while at the same time creating strong connections between philosophy, cultural theory, anthropology, sociology, art and even business studies.

I gained a deeper understanding of the various theoretical and critical approaches to cultural production during the course. This has helped me contextualise both my work and my position as a cultural consumer. I also met some very interesting people during my studies, who I hope to stay in touch with.

The course allowed me to understand the industry I work in as a field of cultural production, and how I can interact with it and with all its philosophical and political implications. 

I enjoyed the courses’ scope for independence, which meant I had the time and the resources to explore and research, which was a great asset to the writing I am doing now.

During my studies, Franco Berardi ‘Bifo’ really inspired me through his writing and through our friendship, along with writer Mark Fisher who I still frequently discuss ideas with. In terms of more contemporary journals, I have found Wilful Disobedience a very worthwhile read.

The knowledge I have gained from the course has definitely made me a lot more familiar with the concepts behind the books that Verso, the company I work for, publishes.

My dream would be to live well while writing, as well as having free time to travel.

I would advise prospective students to read as much as you can and try to meet and talk with people, not just the ones on your course, and try and have a mentor/friend that you can discuss your work with.”


"I believe the course has helped me to develop a more analytical framework, which I can apply when possible during my work as a journalist."

“I chose the Cultural Studies course for the potential it held in widening my knowledge base, especially in media and media theory related ideas, which I hoped would help enhance my career prospects in journalism.

The course stood out for me. It was unlike other courses I had looked at, and because I had already acquired a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism, I felt the knowledge that I would gain from a course in Cultural Studies would be more relevant to me.

The course has taught me how to read philosophical and theoretical texts in a structured manner, research and write in detail on subject areas of my choice and interest, and in particular, develop a meticulous reading habit.

My favourite part of the course was organising the seminar called Unfinished Business—Undoing Cultural Studies, along with other peers from my department. The seminar dealt with a wide array of issues regarding cultural theory and how it is practiced. I was primarily involved in the making of a short-documentary which involved gaining opinions from a large spectrum of people on the question of culture. The process was a student-initiated affair, and it was a great learning experience organising the event itself.

I believe the course has helped me to develop a more analytical framework, which I can apply when possible during my work as a journalist. The theory I learnt has also helped me form more coherent arguments.

Throughout the course, I was really inspired by works such as Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari, and the theoretical texts of Michel Foucault, which I was unfamiliar with before the course commenced. A wide range of South Asian texts, including works by writers like SH Manto, also provided me with a new perspective.

In the future, I would like to have a job which enables me to produce journalistic reports and features on a consistent basis, and on a wide-array of subjects within the South Asian context.

I think for perspective students interested in this course, it would be good to know exactly how you would like to apply theory, to learn, and get informed about your chosen field before enrolling on to the course.”

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at upper least 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.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of two academic referees who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • 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

Applicants are encouraged to submit by 31 May, although you'll be subject to an earlier deadline if you're applying for funding.

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. 

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.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

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