MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy

Conceived in the context of world-systemic transformation. This MA will give you the analytical tools to understand contemporary developments and world(s) through an encounter with post-colonial theory and international political economic issues.

About the department
Centre for Cultural Studies

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.

The academic sphere; government and non-government sectors; arts and art administration; publishing; journalism; media; culture industry in general.
Provides advanced training for labour market-relevant skills in transnational analysis of sovereignty, democracy, governmentality, financialisation, intellectual property rights, and the role of non-governmental organisations.
See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Dr Shela Sheikh
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

We're witnessing today a tectonic shift in global geopolitics. The emergence of China, Brazil and India as global players, the development of global governance, the financial crisis, climate change – are all symptoms.

You’ll grasp concepts like race, diaspora, hybridity, difference, grassroots development, HDI, multitude, immanence, and human rights.

These concepts are used to analyse practical, policy and activist issues arising from globalisation: global civil society, the role of international organisations (the IMF, WTO, UN and World Bank and global NGOs), intellectual property rights, social capital, financialisation, global governance and deep democracy.

You'll deal with issues like terrorism, microfinance, indigenous people, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism and environmental justice.

The Masters includes a supervised and assessed practical placement. This may be with NGOs in India or Africa, arts and conservation organisations in China, indigenous activists in Latin America, London-based global NGOs, diasporic communities, think-tanks, environmental organisations, publishers or financial/microfinance organisations.

You'll be taught by leading theorists and visiting lecturers drawn from a wide circle of activists, artists, film-makers, lawyers, economists, journalists and policy-makers.

The MA is ideal for those pursuing careers in policy research, NGOs, advocacy, charities, international organisations, cultural and political activism, global media, art and curating, as well as for further academic work leading to a PhD.

About the Centre for Cultural Studies

Video: Click to play

Find out more about:

Image courtesy of Alison Hulme, PhD Cultural Studies 2010

Assessment: Essays and/or practical projects; dissertation.

Further Information: Find out more about the Centre for Cultural Studies, including our varied events programme.

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

Applicants are encouraged to submit by 31 May, though applications after this date may still be considered 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 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.

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 a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent to enroll and study on this programme. 

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

CU71004C Globalisation: Politics, Policy and Critique 30 CATS

This module aims at providing the student with theoretical tools necessary for understanding postcolonial transformations in today’s world, especially the global South. With globalisation, the decline of Fordist capitalism and the integration of multiculturalism in the official credo, it is no longer possible to account for the world we inhabit by invoking the Postcolonial critique of colonialism and empire. The rise of China, India and Brazil as global players, the strategic importance of Japan and the oil producing countries of the Middle East, the rise of global terrorism, “Arab Spring,” climate change and the development global governance and civil society, these are all symptoms of a tectonic shift in global geopolitics.

A key component of this module is understanding and analysing the development of the supranational institutions like the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO and examining a range of new agendas, namely, Global Civil Society, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organisations, Sovereignty, New Social Movements, Property Rights, Commons, Biopower etc. The module also has an interventionist agenda and, in that connection, policy studies become a core component. Students are initiated to explore policy agendas relating to development, health, poverty, social capital etc. Practical policy documents relating to developmental and humanitarian agendas are explored in their contextual details. The works of Amartya Sen, Vandana Shiva, Arturo Escobar and others are studied and critiqued while discussing Alterglobalisation, grassroots activism and the World Social Forum. Globalisation has also seen to a remapping of the cultural and artistic fields resulting in the culture of spectacular biennales. Museum and collections have become major tools for disciplining populations. The emergence of branding and the development of the global culture industries are about to change the way we experience culture, consumption, commodity, politics and self. Media, both old and new, are fast changing the way we experience our being-in-world. In view of these, parts of the module would use cultural theory to make sense of these new developments.

Indicative Reading

  • Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, 2005
  • Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at LargeCultural Dimensions of Globalization, 1995
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, The Radicant, 2010
  • Partha Chatterjee, The Politics of the Governed, 2004
  • Jean L. Cohen and Andrew Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory, 1994
  • Melinda Cooper, Life as Surplus, 2008
  • Faisal Devji, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity, 2005
  • Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development, 1995
  • Michel Feher (ed), Nongovernmental Politics, MIT Press, 2007
  • Andrea Fumagalli and Sandro Mazzadra, Crisis in the Global Economy, 2010
  • David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, 2005
  • Yasheng Huang, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, 2008
  • Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, 1795
  • Lamia Karim, Microfinance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh, 2011
  • Scott Lash and Celia Lury, Global Culture Industry, 2007
  • Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, 2000
  • K. S. Rajan, Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life, 2006
  • Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, 2001
  • Vandana Shiva, Globalization's New Wars: Seed, Water and Life Forms, 2005
  • Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics II, 2012
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents, 2003

Taught by Dr Shela Sheikh

Spring term

CU71011A Postcolonial Theory 30 CATS

The aim of this module is to introduce you to canonical, founding texts of Postcolonialism. Close, first-hand reading of texts is emphasised and you are required to probe the whole spectrum of postcolonial thinking - from literary theory, politics, psychoanalysis, diaspora studies, race and gender studies to philosophy, art, anthropology and history. Geopolitically, the emphasis is on the non-West and on the connections, linkages and translatory cultures forged through colonisation, movements, travel and deterritorialisation. We seek to problematise the very notion of post-coloniality - understood not as a temporal marker but more as a style of thought - as a problem.

We begin with Edward Said’s Orientalism, and ponder about the founding role of discourse in shaping geopolitical destinies and historical subjectivities. That takes us into complex questions about the complicity between power and knowledge and the legacy of slavery and colonialism in the present. These discussions are pursued throughout the seminars as we proceed from Bhabha through Spivak and Gilroy to Mbembe and Povinelli. We interrogate Bhabha’s ideas of colonial ambivalence, hybridity  and mimicry and read Fanon and Glissant in the light of a generalised, global unhomliness to mark out the time of the postcolonial ‘contramodernity’ (Gilroy). While reading Spivak and Povinelli, we interrogate the enunciative modalities of liberal discourse and look for strategic prohibitions within which would not let the subaltern speak. The question about agency and location is confronted headlong in Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe while in Timothy Mitchell’s Colonizing Egypt we debate the role of representation in non-western modernity. Through an interrogation of Deleuze’s idea of difference, we try to make sense of the postcolonial ‘right to difference’ in the context of the politics of multiculturalism. Other themes highlighted in the module are: empire, secularism, governmentality, multiculturalism, gender and sexual politics, representation, minorities in Europe and diaspora.

Indicative reading 

  • Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular, 2003
  • Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, 1994
  • Sion Bignall and Paul Patton (ed.), Deleuze and the Postcolonial, 2010
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe, 2000
  • Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?, 1988
  • Franz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth, 2004
  • Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, 1997
  • Paul Gilroy, Against Race, 2000
  • Peter Hallward, Absolutely Postcolonial, 2002
  • Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony, 2001
  • Naoki Sakai, Translation and Subjectivity: On "Japan" and Cultural Nationalism, 1997
  • Charles Taylor, The Politics of Recognition, 1994

Taught by Dr Shela Sheikh 

CU71025A Policy Lab and Placement 30 CATS

Policy Lab

The Policy Lab is understood to be a discussion and research forum for global policy issues, with a view to identifying a set of aims and objectives, as well as concerns, issues and practical organisational needs, relevant to the placements (discussed below). Lab work will provide the essential preparation and context for the placements and dossier projects which evaluate the placements. A concern with policy and practice within organisations, seen in postcolonial light, will be a core part of the module throughout the year. The Policy Lab will entail a three hour session one day each week in Autumn term and four hours each week in Spring term, led by a dedicated Policy Lab tutor. This tutor will be available for instruction and support in relation to organisational matters for placements, and for group discussion of conceptual, bureaucratic and political issues arising there from. Alongside having teaching experience, the person filling this appointment will have significant skills in the planning and delivery of placements with relevant organisations or institutions.


UK-based or overseas placements would usually be undertaken at the end of Spring term and would be with an organisation relevant to the concerns of the program as a whole, and would prepare you for your dissertation work. You will be encouraged to bring postcolonial theory and a critical perspective on culture to bear upon your experience working with such organisations and in varied contexts.

All placements would take advantage of the Centre for Cultural Studies’ significant contacts in the field and will be supervised by the module convener or an appropriate tutor from within the Centre. Placements would result in an appropriately sized report, or documentation dossier with analysis, which may include visual or multimedia material such as a short video, audio or photographic record. The placement is not focused on the delivery of training per se, but on placing you in context within the areas covered by work within NGOs, advocacy groups, charities, policy making and international organisations, cultural activism or anti-racist/anti-imperialist concerns. The placement should be conceived in such a way that these kinds of work may be experienced and evaluated in however minimal a form and you will be able to make a short study of specific practices or even problems with working in such institutions or organisations.

If you are already engaged in relevant institutional, organisational or activist based work in some way you will be able to use the opportunity of a placement to critically reflect upon and analyse your projects, organization and working context. The written components provide a space for you to explore the connections between the practical issues concerning your placement and the theoretical issues addressed in the other parts of the degree.

Recent organisations who have offered placements include:

  • Friends of the Earth
  • Kaleidoscope Trust
  • Privacy International
  • Detention Action

Taught by Camille Barbagallo

Seminar: Monday 10.30am–1.30pm LGB CR

CU71014A Dissertation 60 CATS

The dissertation is an opportunity to write an extended piece of work (10,000-12,000 words) on a topic of particular interest under the guidance of an allocated supervisor within the Centre for Cultural Studies.

Recommended option modules

You take option modules to the value of 30 CATS. Modules can be chosen from across Goldsmiths departments and centres. Option modules are subject to availability and approval by the module lecturer/conveynor.

CU71022B Crisis and Critique 30 CATS

What is critical theory, and whence the notion of critique as a practical stance towards the world? Using these questions as a point of departure, this module takes critical theory as its field of inquiry. Part of the module will be devoted to investigating what critique is, starting with the etymological and conceptual affinity it shares with crisis: since the Enlightenment, so one line of argument goes, all grounds for knowledge are subject to criticism, which is understood to generate a sense of escalating historical crisis culminating in a radical renewal of the intellectual and social order. We will explore the efficacy of modern critical thought, and the concept of critiqueʼs efficacy, by examining a series of attempts to narrate and amplify states of crisis—and correspondingly transform key concepts such as self, will, time, and world—in order to provoke a transformation of society.

The other part of the module will be oriented towards understanding current critical movements as part of the Enlightenment legacy of critique, and therefore as studies in the practical implications of critical readings. Key positions in critical discourse will be discussed with reference to the socio-political conditions of their formation and in the context of their provenance in the history of philosophy, literature, and cultural theory. Required readings will include works by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Benjamin and others, with suggested readings and references in lecture drawn from a variety of source materials ranging from literary
and philosophical texts to visual images, film, and architecture. Students are invited to work on their individual interests with respect to the readings. 

Indicative reading

  • Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
  • Kant, Critique of Judgment
  • Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics
  • Marx, The German Ideology
  • Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy
Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morality
  • Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • Benjamin, Origin of the German Baroque Mourning Play
  • Husserl, Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology
  • Irigaray, Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche 

Taught by Dr Julia Ng

Spring term

CU71007A Interactive Media Critical Theory 15 or 30 CATS

Students taking this as an option can choose the full 30 CAT module, or - with a minimum of 5 week's attendance - take it as a 15 CAT option.

This module looks at the intersection of theories of communication, perception and organization for a re-thinking of the concept of interactivity in the context of digital mediation – from photography to sound, from generative architecture to open source and viral networks. The module brings together philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic concepts to develop a trans-disciplinary discussion and approach to analyse the impact of software machines on modes of interactivity. This trans-disciplinary view implies a new engagement with software media focussed not exclusively on the analysis of new media within the context of dominant and classical critical approaches to media. The module rather poses an emphasis on the trans-disciplinary process of formation and production of key concepts in the field of software media insofar as such emerging field demands a novel design of thoughts.

The module draws on the transformations of media theories - from semiotic (Barthes) to postsemiotics (Pierce), from psychoanalysis (Lacan, Zizek) to schizoanalysis (Guattari), from radical media theories  (from McLuhan to tactical media) to new media theories (F.A. Kittler, P. Weibel, L. Manovich, M. Hansen, P. Levy, V. Flusser). These theories are studied according to recent approaches developed in critical thought through the works of Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Serres, Stiegler, Badiou, Grosz, Irigaray, Stengers, Massumi, Negri and in conjunction with mathematical theories of information and computing (Shannon and Weaver, Wiener, Turing, Von Neumann, Chaitin), biological theories of self-organization and nonlinear evolution (Maturana, Varela, Bateson, Margulis and Sagan), physical theories of chaos and complexity (Prigogine, Thom).  

The first part of the module will focus on the concept of interactivity by looking at the software nature of interactive media from the standpoint of cybernetics, information theory, autopoietic self-organization, nonlinear evolution to develop an ecological or machinic approach for a philosophical, aesthetic and technoscientific study of digital media. The second part of the module will examine digital aesthetics (from photography to virtual reality, digital games and sound) by discussing the difference between information and sensation, the virtual and the actual, movement and affect, visual and acoustic space, the analogical and the digital, the continual and the discrete. The third part of the module will look at media ecologies in terms of network environments as a way to examine generative architectures, peer 2 peer, free-scale and open source networks from the standpoint of algorithmic calculation, rhizomatic organizations, memetic culture and collective socialities. The module will discuss the philosophical, technoscientific and aesthetic dimensions of new media ecologies by analysing interactive artworks, online and off line installations, and digital artefacts as examples for discussion.

Indicative reading

A-L Barabási, Linked: The New Science of Networks

H Bergson, Matter and Memory

G Deleuze and F Guattari A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism & Schizophrenia

T Druckrey with A Electronica (eds), Ars Electronica: Facing the Future

F Guattari, “Machinic Heterogeneities”, in Reading Digital Culture, D Trend (ed)

V Flusser, “On the Theory of Communication”, Writings

M Fuller (ed) Software Studies

F Kittler, Literature, Media, Information Systems: Essays

P Levy, Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age

M McLuhan, Understanding Media, the Extensions of Man

R H. Maturana and J F. Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: the Biological Roots of Human Understanding

B Massumi, Parables for the Virtual. Movement, Affect, Sensation

Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (eds), The New Media Reader

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

I Prigogine, The End of Certainty. Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature

M Serres, Hermes, Literature, Science, Philosophy

_____, The Parasite

C E Shannon. and W Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication

Baruch Spinoza, The Ethics

N Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

Weibel Peter and Bruno Latour, Iconoclash.Beyond the Image Wars, in Science, Religion and Art.

Online Journals






SO71096B Mapping Capitalism 30 CATS

Taking its cue from Fredric Jameson’s concept of ‘cognitive mapping’, this module explores contemporary efforts to provide social and political ‘cartographies’ of capitalist society, with particular attention to the intersection between social theory and narrative aesthetic forms (both literary and visual). Beginning from Jameson’s inquiry into the possibility of visual and theoretical orientation within capitalism as a complex totality, and his understanding of ‘conspiracy theory’ as the failure of such an endeavour, the module will investigate different approaches to ‘mapping capitalism’: Franco Moretti’s use of maps in the study of the social content of the nineteenth-century novel; the analysis of commodity-chains and containerization, as explored in the photographic work of Allan Sekula; the attempt in recent cinema and television to track the conflicts in capitalist economies; the thematisation of landscape as a site of power relations and social transformations; the network as a sociological tool, a political reality, and an aesthetic object. Throughout, we will try to think of how a 'cartographic turn' in contemporary theory, art and political activism challenges our presuppositions about the relationship between social inquiry and aesthetics.

Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay

Module convenor: Alberto Toscano

Autumn Term

SO73006B Consumer Citizenship and Visual Media 30 CATS

This module examines visual advertising media and the proliferation of neo-liberal philosophies of consumer citizenship. In the milieu from which universal rights are disappearing, consumer citizenship imposes a moral obligation on subjects to make provision for themselves and their families well into the future. The logical implication here is that autonomous consumers come to adopt a certain entrepreneurial form of practical relationship to their selves. Enterprise is represented here as playing a vital translating role, promising to align general political-ethical principles, with the goals of industry and the self–regulating activities of individuals. Within this politico-ethical environment, consumers are constituted as both objects of enterprise and instruments of enterprise as they make 'entrepreneurs of themselves, seeking to maximize their ‘quality of life’ through the artful assembly of a ‘life-style’ put together through the world of goods’ (Miller and Rose 2008:49). 

Divided into four main sections. Part One: examines reflexive modernity and the linking of postmodern visual culture with citizenship as part of the development of political consumerism. Part Two: is informed by Michel Foucault's 1978-1979 lectures at the College de France, in conjunction with Miller and Rose (2008), so as to provide an account of the entrepreneurial self. Central objective of Part Two is to examine the 'governing of humanity', in the context of Neoliberal governmental rationality and market reform of public sector services (with emphasis on recent healthcare market reform). Part Three raises pertinent issues about visual media: the embodiment of consumer citizenship; the body as a site of self-discipline; body praxis and life-politics; and cultural political resistance to the commodity-sign. Part Four: examines Fairtrade branding and the geopolitics of ethical consumerism in the context of global advertising media.

Assessment: 5-6,000 word essay

Module convenor: Pam Odih

Autumn Term

CU71002A Cultural Theory 30 CATS

This module asks the questions: What is cultural studies. and, what is culture? A wide range of cultural theory dealing with issues concerning technology, art media, philosophy, and the economy, are explored in order to address a number of connected questions that span the field of contemporary cultural studies. Can culture be understood per se or may we only ever consider cultures? What is the nature of culture and how should we try to understand what is specific to contemporary culture? What is cultural studies in a changing order, whereby China, India, and Latin America - the East and the South - become the drivers of global change? We look at the cultural foundations of the global economy: at 'individualist' and 'relational' orders of value.

We ask who this non-Western  other is and again, this time with new eyes, who is 'the West'? We enquire into the Greek and Jewish-Christian transcendental God and in the process investigate its association with the economic culture of our age; for its messianic ethos; for its critique of law; of neoliberalism and sovereignty and its everlasting obsession with justice; we think it as well for its implicit universalism and ask the broader question: what is universalism? We look at cultures of the East (especially China) and of the South. Here, as opposed to Western ontology, are questions of conduct and 'the way'; as opposed to the Western other-worldly God, immanent this-worldly, non-monotheistic, regimes of religion. We look at the immanent and relation culture of the gift and the clan, the linguistic foundations of Chinese culture. We ask, in this context, whether a new global universalism is possible.

Indicative readings

  • M. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics
  • A. Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism
  • Martin Heideggger, 'The Question Concerning Technology'
  • Francois Jullien, Detour and Access
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics
  • Marcel Mauss, The Gift
  • G Deleuze and F Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
  • Bernard Stiegler, Technics and Time
  • Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • Max Weber, Religion of India

Taught by Professor Scott Lash

Autumn term

CU71024A Media Philosophy 15 CATS

Media Philosophy is taught by Prof. Scott Lash, Prof. Matthew Fuller and Dr. Luciana Parisi. This five-lecture course investigates media by a close analysis of key texts and authors in this field.  We understand media as much from an engineering point of view as from a philosophical one. We look at how information and media comprise self-reproducing non-linear systems; and how this involves the interchange of information between media and ourselves as physical, social and cultural beings. This course is uncompromising in dealing with the philosophical questions underpinning contemporary media and technology and is at the same time always embedded in the critique of today's capitalist political economy.

Indicative Readings

  • F. Kittler, Film, Gramophone, Typewriter
  • G. Simondon, Psychic and Collective Individuation
  • F. Guattari, Three Ecologies
  • D. Haraway, Modest Witness@Second Millennium
  • G. Deleuze Cinema One
  • L. Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman​ 

Lectures by Professor Scott Lash, Professor Matthew Fuller and Dr Luciana Parisi

Autumn term (5 weeks after Reading week)

CU71027A Biopolitics & Aesthetics 15 CATS

If, in modernity, bare life enters the stage of history and the field of politics for the first time - as the philosophers Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben have extensively argued - and we are living in a biopolitical age in which power intimately accesses and regulates this life, how do aesthetics register, mirror and contest these developments? The desire for modernist, avant-garde and critical art to burst their banks and fuse with 'everyday life', the chaos and contingency of social life, the body as a site of experience and action, parallels power's increasing need to act upon 'active subjects' and to co-opt the vitality of populations. This module will move schematically through key artists, movements and conditions of beholding, from the late 18th century until today, to explore this relationship and consider art's dual role as pioneer and antagonist of biopolitical power.

Taught by Dr Josephine Berry-Slater

Five weeks in spring term

PO71016A Art and Politics: Theory History Event 30 CATS

The central goal of this module is to examine, using a variety of historical, theoretical and aesthetical perspectives, the nature of the relationship between art and politics. We focus on a series of themes that allow us to explore how this relationship has been configured, but also repeatedly challenged in its very configurations. These themes are:

1. Politics, Police, the Political
2. History and the Event
3. The Institution of Art & Culture
4. Critique
5. Change and Revolution
6. Creativity
7. Aesthetics
8. The States of Contemporart Art
9. Articulation, Silence, Silencing
10. Struggles and Practices  

Taught by: Dr Stefan Nowotny

Autumn Term

SO71125A Constructing Human Rights 30 CATS

This module introduces concepts you will need to study human rights, beginning with ‘social construction’. From there we will begin to think about the political, social and cultural forms in which constructions of human rights are developed, gain credibility, and are (usually partially and often controversially) institutionalised. In particular we will look at how human rights are constructed ‘culturally’ through processes of (generally mediated) framing. ‘Cultural’ here encompasses the legal framing of human rights, but we will look at how human rights are constructed in a variety of forms, organisational, institutional, and artistic.

Assessment: 1x essay of 5,000 words

Module Convener: Kate Nash

Autumn Term 

Other option modules, by Department

‌You may prefer to look through the full range of optional modules available across Goldsmiths departments. Please note that not all the modules listed below may be open to you - your final selection will depend upon spaces available and timetable compatibility.


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.

Student profiles

Saoirse Fitzpatrick

Age: 24
Nationality: British
Undergraduate degree and course: Social Anthropology and Development at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Previous job before MA: Internship at World Development Movement NGO
Current Job: Social Enterprise Consultant in Mozambique

“I wanted a course that was really critical of development, and there was definitely not a similar course around. I knew Goldsmiths was pretty left-wing and open minded because whenever I had heard lecturers from Goldsmiths on the radio, they were always on a really interesting programme and often quite outspoken.

It seemed like a natural progression from my undergraduate degree - going more in-depth and questioning what I had learned before. I had also heard that Bhaskar was an entertaining professor.

The course taught me to question my own position in terms of picking out when I was positively discriminating against things. The policy lab lessons were especially interesting, because at the time when I was studying, it was all about the rise of the tuition fees. It was a real movement we were in - we were part of something historical. It was great that we did not look at global issues in a passive way, but were encouraged to actively talk about it.

I learned to be more of a realist and look at the world in a different way, especially by getting away from the romantic tendency to see cultures foreign from your own as beautiful, amazing and unchanging, and to actually see that there are so many lines where things converge and diverge. It is when you see history repeating itself again, that forces you to question why we are going through the same mistakes again.

The course gets rid of your assumption that in global development or charities something needs to be done, and therefore doing anything is reasonable. It teaches you to question yourself and your own goodwill, and to question where your own anthropologic attitudes come from.

The most important thing the course taught me was that development does not really work if it is not for profit. I think for me, now working with social enterprise, development is about giving people business opportunities to make a living, because meritocracy is a myth, as we do not all start off in the same playing field, and some people do not have access to the same opportunities, so I think it is about recognizing those differences in class, in privilege, that people have, and try to narrow that gap.

I would advise prospective students to get stuck in and reflect on what the course teaches you on a day-to-day basis.”

Interviewed by Claire Shaw

Paul Mills

Age: 26
Nationality: British
Undergraduate degree and course: French and German Studies at the University of Warwick
Previous job before MA: Researched and wrote educational modules about climate change
Current job: Journalist and filmmaker

“Postcolonial Studies provides a way of thinking that can be applied to a range of issues I am interested in, from domestic issues such as multiculturalism, to more anthropological studies on culture and identity, and wider phenomenons such as globalisation and neoliberalism. I felt the course would help me hone a set of theoretical tools that would give me more nuanced and complex understandings of the issues that interest me, whether at home or abroad.

I was intrigued by the approach of this course, that seemed more contemporary than certain more traditional anthropology or development courses in other universities that lead you through a history of the classic works of the discipline. Whilst studying highly theoretical perspectives on issues such as culture, globalisation, development, diasporic culture, subaltern studies and feminism, the Policy Lab encouraged us to bridge the gap between theory and action, discussing how these ideas affected us activists, writers and campaigners.

The course taught me to try and decenter myself from a trained way of thinking, critiquing our own identity and philosophy in order to understand how we got where we are. I think a key challenge is to try and understand the many different worlds that exist our Western one, which can be relevant whether thinking about history, religion, politics, development or philosophy. I ended up applying this approach to urban studies, where I studied how African cities, specifically Douala in Cameroon, have developed in different ways to our own and are generating new ways of living that should not be understood simply as failed or underdeveloped versions of our own cities.

Since the course I have become more confident in my understanding of certain key socio-political terms of our times. I have gained a criticality and set of perspectives which I will take with me whatever I do.

My advice to prospective students is to just do it! I felt it was a real privilege at this stage in my life to have the time to stop and think and read about issues I care about. I think it helps if you know what you are looking for; approaching the course through the lens of a particular issue you care about can make it easier to navigate way through what can sometimes be a dense and difficult theoretical jungle!”

Interviewed by Claire Shaw


"I am enjoying the provocative and challenging lectures."

Goldsmiths offers a vibrant educational atmosphere. Every day you meet people from around the globe and hear different perspectives on all the hot topics of the day. I study on the MA programme in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy and I am enjoying the provocative and challenging lectures on orientalism, globalisation, biopoilitcs, and other subjects. Along the way, I am being guided in developing research and theoretical tools with which to continue my career. Prior to undertaking this course I was a journalist and I can clearly see how the skills I am learning now will help shape my work in the future, thanks to the Goldsmiths teaching staff in the Centre for Cultural Studies

With its green spaces and its location out of the hustle of central London, the Goldsmiths campus is also a great place to relax and spend time with new friends.

Content last modified: 13 Apr 2015

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