Course information

Department

Sociology

Length

1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Course overview

Runaway climate change, mass extinctions, radical ecological transformations. We are living through profoundly unsettling times, and face equally uncertain futures. The MA Ecology, Culture, & Society offers the opportunity to engage with the urgency of contemporary socio-ecological challenges and to imaginatively explore ways of inhabiting the Earth otherwise.

The MA will take a distinctively interdisciplinary and critical perspective. It will highlight the concept of “ecology” in an expanded sense and encompass the complex web of interconnections that bind people, animals, bodies, soils, ideas, technologies, practices, institutions, cultures, and histories with their changing environments. Drawing on perspectives from the humanities and the social sciences, this programme explores the many shifting relationships between natures and cultures around the world. It introduces critical new approaches to the connections between humans and animals in more-than-human worlds, and it will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the ways in which ecological issues are intertwined with the question of social justice, cultural difference, and decolonisation.

You will be encouraged to explore the philosophical, cultural, political, and social dimensions that shape our understanding of contemporary socio-ecological issues and to explore imaginative responses to them. You will also learn to develop and apply ecological perspectives on various forms of social, political, and cultural analysis.

Link ecology with social, cultural and political processes

This programme will give you a critical understanding of our times and will help you develop key interdisciplinary skills for critical socio-ecological scholarship, creativity, communication, and activism. It will equip you with the insights, concepts, and skills needed to understand and engage with the tangled relationships between nature and culture, and the ethics and politics of our relationships with animals. You will also acquire knowledge and understanding of key concepts such as Anthropocene, anthropocentrism, value, difference, domestication, human exceptionalism, extractivism, decolonisation, radical pluralism, and the arts of living. 

Expand your practical skills

In addition to lectures and seminars, you will learn to conduct independent research and will participate in experimental and practical forms of learning by conducting observations and developing practical experiments of your own design. You will also have the option of doing a placement with an NGO, grassroots activist network, or other relevant organisations, in order to develop your practical skills and reflect upon socio-ecological and animal practices.

This programme will also allow you to benefit from its location in a global city, home to major cultural, scientific, artistic, and political institutions, movements and NGOs that play world-leading roles in furthering ecological knowledge, thought, and practice.

Study with the experts

Teaching on the MA Ecology, Culture, & Society draws on Goldsmiths’ strengths and leadership on environmental issues, including our Green New Deal, to have a transformative effect on your understanding of, and critical engagement with, the most pressing socio-ecological issues of our time. It will build on existing Sociology staff’s expertise on philosophy, animal studies, environmental humanities, science and technology studies, social and cultural theory, radical pluralism, postcolonial studies, aesthetics, and more-than-human politics.

The MA is ideal for anyone 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.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Martin Savransky.

What you'll study

You will study the following compulsory modules, and write a 12,000-word dissertation (60 credits), for which you will meet for individual supervision with a member of the Sociology staff, and participate in Dissertation workshops.

Compulsory modules Module title Credits
  Social Theory for Changing Climates 30 credits
  The Ethics and Politics of Animals 30 credits
  Cultural Ecologies 30 credits

You will also study 30 credits of option modules from a list annually approved by the Department. (The following is an indicative list.)

Option modules Module title Credits
  Practical Ecologies (Placement) 30 credits
  Social Research for Public Engagement 30 credits
  Remaking London 30 credits
  Politics and Difference 30 credits
  Feminist Methods 30 credits
  Postcolonial Theory 30 credits
  Globalisation: Politics, Policy and Critique 30 credits
  Cultural Studies and Capitalism 30 credits
  The Political Economy of the Anthropocene 30 credits
  Development for the 21st Century 30 credits
  Decolonising Knowledge: Debates in Human Science 15 credits
  Learning from Social Movements 30 credits
  Critical Voices in Development 30 credits
  The Contemporary American Novel in the Era of Climate Change 30 credits
  The Ocean as Archive 30 credits

Download the programme specification. 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

Successful applicants will have a 2:1 or equivalent from their honours undergraduate degree programme in a relevant subject. Those without this level of qualification may make a case for consideration and will be interviewed for admission.

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 (or equivalent English language qualification) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 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

To find out more about your fees, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

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.

Find out more about applying.

Staff

The following are some of the academics teaching on this programme.

Mariam Motamedi-Fraser

Mariam Motamedi-Fraser is a Reader in the Sociology Department. Her research interests lie broadly in the theoretical, methodological and ethical implications of recent developments in the animal sciences for social science thinking (i.e. for the kinds of concepts and theories deployed in the social sciences; for the relations of animals to social science teaching and research; etc.). She is currently writing a book, provisionally entitled Dog Politics: Canis Familiaris in the Animal Sciences, which addresses the unique place of dogs in the animal sciences, and the burdens they bear, on account of their co-evolution with humans, as experimental subjects, working subjects, and 'conversing' subjects. The book is informed in particular by debates about species and individuals, evolutionary biology, and racism.

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Monk

Monk is a Research Fellow in the Sociology Department. Monk is a black Labrador. He has accompanied Mariam Motamedi-Fraser to Goldsmiths since September 2015, when he was seven months old. He comes to staff and student meetings, and to the lectures and seminars that Mariam teaches.

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Martin Savransky

Martin Savransky is Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department and Convener of the MA Ecology, Culture & Society. His research expands across philosophy, the environmental humanities, and postcolonial studies, exploring a multiplicity of divergent practices of thinking, knowing, and living with others in and out of Europe: how they might enable us to envisage modes of inhabiting worlds otherwise, and of making worlds more inhabitable. He is especially interested in ecological pluralism, value ecologies, and the decolonisation of modern thought. His latest book is titled Around the Day in Eighty Worlds: Politics of the Pluriverse (Duke University Press, 2021).

Read more

Careers

This programme is ideal for anyone pursuing careers in policy research, NGOs, advocacy, charities, international organisations, cultural and political activism, global media, as well as for further academic work leading to a PhD. Students are encouraged to seek work experience and work placements during the programme (see the optional module “Practical Ecologies") as time allows. The MA also allows you to pursue further academic research in one or more of the areas covered on the programme.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

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