Course information




1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Scholarship information

Funding available

Course overview

This MA draws on urban sociology to explore the meaning of cities, urban life and culture.

The programme covers topics including the politics of gentrification, urban community, infrastructure and the intricacies of urban culture, alongside lectures on urban policy, food politics, poverty and migration.

You will also zoom out to consider the broader meaning of urban sociology and its ongoing contribution to social science. With over two-thirds of the global population destined to live in cities by 2050, there has never been a more important time to research and understand urban life.

Why study MA Sociology (Urban Studies) at Goldsmiths

Critically engage with urban work

The degree brings together social analysis, activism, and inventive research methods to critically engage with various dimensions of urban work – from policy-making, research and cultural interventions, to the management of social programmes and institutions.

Take a multi-disciplinary approach

The MA is distinguished by a focus on experimental empirical research and covers the following disciplines: sociology, geography, anthropology, architecture, cultural studies, history, fine arts, media and communications.

Experience research-led teaching

We use research-led teaching to explore the importance of sociological knowledge in understanding cities, urban economies, culture, politics and social justice. 

Analyse and explore spaces and places

You’ll analyse the organisation of contemporary cities, including the built environment, commerce, housing, culture, political and social infrastructures. You'll also explore how distributions of wealth, power and culture in spaces and places are constituted through political, material and social processes.

Study in a unique urban setting

We use our location in South East London to explore issues of city-making and urban change through hands-on methodological training.

Join a lively academic community

You’ll be part of a lively community of researchers and urban practitioners at the Centre for Urban and Community Research and will join students who have a range of experiences and interests in communication, management, politics, design and cultural industries.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Emma Jackson.

What you'll study

The programme consists of four compulsory modules and a dissertation.

Compulsory modules

Module title Credits
Thinking Sociologically 30 credits
Methodology Now 30 credits
Cities and Society 30 credits
Rethinking the City 30 credits
Dissertation 60 credits

As a full-time student, you would normally complete two compulsory modules in each of the Autumn and Spring terms. As a part-time student, you will spread these modules over two years.


One-hour lectures address the compulsory themes of each module, followed by one-hour seminars in small groups of under 20.

You'll be encouraged to attend dissertation classes that train you in the basic principles of dissertation preparation, research and writing. You will be 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 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 a 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 Department of Sociology and related departments and centres to provide a catalyst for independent thought and study. 

Expert walks and seminars

The course is 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 guests from various institutions across the city, and take students through the sites of that their work focuses on.

Alongside compulsory modules, the convenors will also run an Urban Film Series, a series of evening screenings of various documentaries and films relevant to the themes of the course.

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 Sociology (Urban Studies) a space to join in with the Centre’s intellectual community.   


The 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 compulsory modules).

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.

For 2021-22 and 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the programme changes page.

What our students say


"Since graduating, I have had a keener eye for how the city around me operates and a better understanding of the wider social factors at play that come to shape how people might behave and act the way they do. I have found this invaluable in my work as a filmmaker and a researcher."

"I was interested in the Cities and Society course because I found urban life fascinating, alluring and, well, dizzyingly complicated. I took the course in an effort to better educate myself on how academics, activists and theorists have come to understand the city and how it, in turn, has come to shape human behaviour. 

Having not come from an academic background I had worried the course might have been too dense and opaque. From the outside, academia can sometimes seem like it speaks its own - inaccessible - language. However, the same could not be said of this course. What we studied was underpinned by sociological heavyweights and ideas that stand up to intellectual rigour. And yet by making big, abstract topics accessible, we were able to express ourselves in a way that made academia, and the rich ideas within, open to more people. This directly fuelled the discussions in classrooms and during seminars which were both stimulating and one of the joys of this course. There is also a heavy emphasis on complimenting the book work with a boots-on-the-ground approach to research. This mix allows for space on the course to put theory into practice.

This is a compassionate course. The lecturers are both interesting and interested. It is a supportive environment for people to develop their skills and broaden their understanding of the city around them. Since graduating, I have had a keener eye for how the city around me operates and a better understanding of the wider social factors at play that come to shape how people might behave and act the way they do. Your eye is sharpened to injustices in the city and in how the city comes to be shaped into the form it is today. I have found this invaluable in my work as a filmmaker and a researcher."


"Coming from an Italian Cultural Anthropology background, the Masters in Cities and Society helped me to question and expand my theoretical foundations."

"A year in Goldsmiths was a refreshing experience. Coming from an Italian Cultural Anthropology background, the Masters in Cities and Society helped me to question and expand my theoretical foundations. A new attention to materiality and sensory aspects of urban life, along with new methods to analytically look at them, have been particularly enlightening inputs.

I really enjoyed the continuous exchange with lecturers, tutors, and fellow students, both inside and outside the classrooms. Two highlights of the course include Urban Field Encounters’ practical exercises, as well as the dissertation workshops, which are really helpful for students coming from non-British academic paths. 

I am currently working as a social impact evaluation officer in an Italian Onlus (Italian non-profit social organisation). Among my research fields, I focus on community development, urban regeneration"

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 (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

Annual tuition fees

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2022/2023 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £9260
  • Home - part-time: £4630
  • International - full-time: £18290

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

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.


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 on this degree 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

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