Course information




1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Scholarship information

Funding available

Course overview

This programme brings together social analysis, design, activism, and inventive research methods in a critical engagement with various dimensions of urban work – from planning, policy making, research, cultural intervention, to the management of social programmes and institutions.

Increasingly, no matter how we live, we know this 'world' primarily through the experience of living within and between cities. These cities continuously produce new challenges for their inhabitants and administrators. In doing so, they also produce opportunities for understanding the constraints and potentials of both human and non-human life.

The MA Cities and Society is a research and training programme designed to support strategic interventions in urban governance, design, institution-building and change, as well as social-spatial development. Distinguished by it's theoretical rigour, integrity and amenability to experimental empirical research, the programme focuses particularly on:

  • The organisation of contemporary urban economies, including the production of built and virtual environments, physical and social infrastructure
  • The ways in which different forms of economic accumulation and economic practices impact upon cities, and how any city reflects a particular set of constraints and possibilities
  • The proliferation of technical systems, media, and practices of interpretation and organisation that change our notions about the ‘proper’ use of things and bodies
  • The intersections of finance, governance, ecology, and culture in producing multiple forms for assessing urban futures; particularly calculations of risk, sustainability, productivity and creativity

This programme covers the following disciplines: geography, anthropology, architecture, cultural studies, fine arts, media and communications.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Alex Rhys-Taylor

What you'll study

The programme consists of:

Core modules

Module title Credits
  Remaking London 30 credits
  Navigating Urban Life 30 credits
  Urban Field Encounters 30 credits

Dissertation (60 credits)
In the summer term you complete a major practical project consisting of any media and addressing a specific sociological problem. You will meet for individual supervision with a member of the Sociology staff. 
The dissertation is a substantive piece of research in which you develop a visual, inventive or experimental approach to a topic of your choice.


One hour lectures address the core themes of each module, followed by one hour seminars in small groups (under 20). You'll be encouraged to attend dissertation classes that train you in the basic principles of dissertation preparation, research and writing. You are also assigned a dissertation supervisor who will be available when you are writing the dissertation (approximately one hour contact time per month).

The main aim of the program is thus to explore new approaches to thinking about and researching the city formation and urban life. This can be broken down into three inter-related aims:

  • To promote an appreciation of the relevance of the social, sociological knowledge and ways of knowing in the understanding of cities, urban economy, culture and politics, and the management of social change, and to encourage critical understanding of interrelated concepts, debates and themes.
  • To enable students critically to engage sociological and geographical theories and methodologies relevant to the studies of cities and urbanities, controversies and social change, and conduct an intellectually informed sustained investigation.
  • To expose students to a lively research environment and the relevant expertise of the Sociology and related departments and centres to provide a catalyst for independent thought and study. 

Expert walks and seminars

The course is also accompanied by a series of expert 'London walks' spread across the year. These are led by a range of researchers from within the Centre for Urban and Community Research, as well as project managers and planners from organisations such as the Greater London Authority, and take students through the sites of that their work focuses on. The Centre for Urban Community research also holds regular seminars with a range of urban professionals, architects and academics from outside the university, giving the MA Cities and Society a spaces to join in with the Centre’s intellectual community.   


Assessment consists of coursework, extended essays, reports, presentations, practice based projects or essays/logs, group projects, reflective essays, and seen and unseen written examinations.

MA granted on the completion of 180 CATS (all coursework and dissertation); Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education granted on the completion of 120 CATS (all coursework without dissertation); Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education granted on the completion of 60 CATS (the completion of two core modules).

Download the programme specification for the 2018-19 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.

Entry 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.

International qualifications

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

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

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.


Kirsty MacColl Scholarship

The Department regularly offers the Kirsty MacColl Scholarship Award for this programme, in memory of singer and musician Kirsty MacColl.

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.
  • An electronic copy of your reference on letter headed paper, or alternatively the email address of your referee who we can request a reference from. It is preferred that you use an academic reference, however in cases where applicants are unable to provide one, a professional reference is acceptable.
  • 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

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.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline. 

Selection process

As part of the selection process, you may be invited to an informal interview with the Programme Convenor.

Find out more about applying.

Student work

Renata Cleaver
Carlo Navato
Lauren Finch
Carlo Navato
Marissa Deikhoff
Marissa Deikhoff
Renata Cleaver
Carlo Navato




Analytical and research skills that intersect basic sociological knowledge with that of architecture, the built environment, cultural and postcolonial theory, geography, planning, digital communications, and ethnography as they apply to the study of cities across the world.


The training in this programme is applicable to work in multilateral institutions, NGOs, urban research institutes, municipal government, cultural and policy institutions, urban design firms, and universities.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Suggested reading

  • Amin, A and Thrift, N (2002) Cities, Reimagining the Urban, Cambridge, Polity
  • Amin, A , Massey, D and Thrift, N (2000) Cities for the Many not the Few, Bristol: The Policy Press
  • Benjamin, W. & Tiedemann, R, (1999) The Arcades Project, Harvard University Press
  • Davis, M (2007) Planet of Slums, Verso.
  • Jacobs, J, (1989) The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage Books.
  • Massey, D (2005) For Space, London: Sage
  • Pile, S and Thrift N (2000) City A-Z, London: Routledge
  • Ross, A (2011) Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City, OUP USA
  • Thrift, N and Dewsbury, J D (2000) 'Dead geographies – and how to make them live' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 18, p411-432

What our students say


"Goldsmiths opened me up to new ways of critical thinking and understanding the world"

I have been interested in Goldsmiths for years and was attracted by its focus on critical theory and interdisciplinary creativity across the departments.

Coming from a performing and visual arts background I was worried that I would struggle in the course. Sometimes I was overwhelmed, but always in a very positive way and challenging way.

I am very grateful for the experience and learning about political geography, creative research methods and urban life and cities across the world. Goldsmiths opened up new ways of critical thinking and understanding the world for me.

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