Paul Halliday, Sociology
It is designed to encourage creative interplay between practice and theory; you will have the chance to consider cutting-edge debates in cultural and social theory in a research setting that actively encourages the development of photographic practice.
The programme offers working photographers, visual artists and media practitioners space to reflect critically on their practice.
It also offers those with a background in sociology, urban and cultural geography, cultural studies or anthropology the opportunity to combine visual forms of representation with standard forms of research techniques in investigating urban life and the physical environments of the city.
Three core courses will:
You also choose two options from a range of courses available, and you write a dissertation that reflects critically on a portfolio of work you will provide in an end-of-year show.
Essays; dissertation; final visual project.
If you register your interest in this programme we will keep you informed about open days and send you relevant further information. If you subsequently decide to apply for this programme you will be able to use the same login details to apply.
You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.
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.
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.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
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.
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. You will also need to demonstrate proficiency in photographic practice, including familiarity with a 35mm camera and photographic printing.
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.
If your first language is not English, you normally need a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent.
Please check our English Language requirements for more information.
Get in touch via our online form
+44 (0)20 7919 7766
+44 (0)20 7919 7702
For further information on the staff and research profile of the Department of Sociology, visit the Sociology Department staff pages.
|SO71042B||Navigating Urban Life||30 CATS|
This course addresses significant issues in the contemporary organisation of urban landscapes, urban life and connections between cities as well as the interface between human and architectural fabric. Drawing on specific empirical examples in based in China, Hong Kong, the US, London and parts of mainland Europe this course examines key debates in urban sociology and research. There is a strong focus on visual apprehension of cities and ways of accessing and researching cities through photography. The following sessions have been offered in previous years:
Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay
|SO71070A & SO71070B||Through The Lens Part A and Part B||Part A - 30 CATS
Part B - 30 CATS
* PLEASE NOTE THAT PART A IS OPEN TO ALL MA STUDENTS BUT PART B IS ONLY OPEN TO SOCIOLOGY STUDENTS
This course is taken as a full unit (Autumn and Spring terms) by MA Photography and Urban Cultures students. It may be taken as two half unit options in the Autumn and Spring terms by MA students in the Sociology department; the Autumn term course is a prerequisite for the Spring term course, but may be taken as a single course. The first term focuses on debates around ‘critiques of the real’, globalisation and the city, and the visual representation of place and space. The second term focuses on urban identities, culture and the construction of self through portraiture and the family album.
This course aims to introduce students to contemporary examples of photographic practice and the representation of city life. Much has been written about the way the photographic lens operates to survey and govern the definition of what is ‘real’. This course will evaluate these perspectives critically. Does the lens only look one-way? This raises the question posed most eloquently by John Berger, namely, when a photograph is taken “who is looking at who?”
This course offers students a range of critical perspectives on photographic practice from within sociology, geography, anthropology, cultural studies and visual arts theory. It also includes discussions of the work of contemporary media practitioners and photographic artists and examines key issues in relation to visual ethnography, the place of photography in news media and fine art practice. Participants will be introduced to a number of theoretical and practical approaches relating to urban photography, and encouraged to develop a visual ethnography about an aspect of urban culture or space. The course is of particular relevance to students wishing to use photography within a research context.
You will be expected to complete the set reading assignments each week and to participate in class discussions.
Assessment: 1x 5-6,000 word essay (or 3-4,000 word essay with 10x image photo-project) for each term.
Course convenor: Paul Halliday
|tbc||Dissertation and Major Visual Project||60 CATS|
The Dissertation can comprise two parts: a portfolio and a 6-8,000-word dissertation. Alternatively, you may submit a 12-15,000-word written Dissertation. The Dissertation will consist of: an account of the rationale of the photographic project; a critical evaluation of photographic practice and issues of reflectivity and knowledge production. In combination with the written part you will be expected to provide evidence of a sustained and coherent body of photographic work focusing on an aspect of urban culture for assessment. Previously, work from Final Visual Projects has been shown on a virtual gallery space linked to the CUCR website.
|n/a||Seminars and Practice Workshops||n/a|
The programme offers a comprehensive range of practice workshops and related seminars covering analogue and digital photographic practice, introduction to medium-format practice, location lighting, sound recording, portfolio development, landscape photography, portraiture, street photography, and a number of urban field-walks associated with the CUCR.
There is a weekly Talking Practice (normally held Thursday morning) seminar where students are encouraged to give a presentation about
MA in Photography & Urban Cultures, (graduated 2011)
"Before coming to Goldsmiths I had spent roughly 20 years working as a freelance photographer in the commercial and advertising space. I really loved the job and the great experiences it offered through travel but over the years I became increasingly aware of something missing. I had developed a deep understanding of the technical skills a photographer requires but I felt I was missing the theoretical background to bring the whole thing together. A framework and knowledge to engage on an interdisciplinary level where photographic practice and academic practice merge into critical understanding. I looked into a number of courses and singled out the MA in Photography and Urban Cultures. It was the ideal extension to my practical experience, and the fact that I could do the course part-time meant that I could continue working whilst studying.
Aside from the high academic standard of the lectures and the level of preparation behind each session, I think the thing that I valued most was the myriad of nationalities and experiences that wove themselves together in this course. It lead to some challenging and inspiring discussions around working practice and sociological research mainly influenced and fired up by the various social, political, educational, work backgrounds and experiences.
After years of market orientated work assignments I found the act of critical and freethinking inspirational and to my understanding this is the highest aim and long lasting legacy Goldsmiths could pass on. In 2012, after graduating successfully, I set up a photography gallery (Gasket-Gallery) with three likeminded friends. The aim and philosophy is to promote talented photographers who not only have a strong photographic eye and sensibility but also socially engaging works. Goldsmiths gave me the theoretical understanding and confidence to try something new and step off the beaten track."
Graduates of the programme have progressed to the following areas and careers:
This MA develops skills in urban photography, visual ethnography and urban research, communications for urban planning, community arts and visual arts practice.
Each weekly core course Through The Lens lecture will give a list of key references and suggested reading. We also suggest that students prepare for the course through background reading and obtaining the following books:
Roland Barthes (1980) Camera Lucida. Flamingo
Barthes is best known for his extensive theoretical work around the nature of sign systems (semiotics), ideology and myth. In this beautifully written book, the author re-evaluates his relationship with photography through the autobiographical examination of a family photograph.
John Berger (1972) Ways of Seeing. Penguin
The whole book is worth reading as an introduction to visual criticism, art history and advertising. Berger worked extensively with the photographer John Mohr on a series of image/text collaborations.
A.D. Coleman (1978) Depth of Field: Essays on Photography, Mass Media, and Lens Culture. University of New Mexico Press
Coleman’s essay touch on ethical debates around street photography (chapter 10), and what he terms ‘the destruction business’ of arts criticism (chapter 1).
Graham Clarke (1997) The Photograph. Oxford University Press
Clarke’s book provides a useful overview of photography from an history of art/visual culture perspective. He covers a wide range of subjects including, what is a photograph? (chapter 1), how do we read photographs? (chapter 2), the city and portraiture (chapters 5 and 6), and the body (chapter 7). There is also a good discussion on the history and theory of documentary photography (chapter 8). A very good overall reader.
Bill Jay (1992) Occam’s Razor. Nazraeli Press
Jay provides an excoriating critique of the gallery and arts system in the US, and asks us to rethink many of the taken for granted truisms of media and visual arts education.
Caroline Knowles and Paul Sweetman (eds.) (2004) Picturing the Social Landscape: Visual Methods and the Sociological Imagination. Routledge
This book provides an accessible introduction to visual sociology/ethnography drawing on relevant case studies. Both the introduction and chapter 7 will relate to this course.
Sarah Pink (2001) Doing Visual Ethnography. Sage
Pink’s book is a very good introduction to some of the major debates within visual sociology and anthropology. Her interdisciplinary book covers a wide range of theoretical and methodological issues, and it is recommended that you read the introduction and chapters 1 and 3 which focus on the relationship between ethnography and photography.
Susan Sontag (1977) On Photography. Penguin
Sontag’s book is considered both controversial and insightful. he brings to the process of analysis a literary sensibility that doesn’t always sit easily with the practice of image-making. The essay In Plato’s Cave (chapter 1), is particularly relevant to debates about the nature of the Real.
Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW, UK
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7919 7171
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