Course information




1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

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. By studying this masters, you'll be joining our world-leading Department of Sociology. We've been rated top 10 in the UK for sociology in the QS World University Rankings 2023.

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.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

What our students say

Pui Sze Leung

The vibrant, creative energy of Goldsmiths students was infectious. 

Interactive and engaging

It's difficult to pinpoint my favourite part of the degree as there were a few things I really enjoyed throughout my course. The class size was just right, allowing lots of interaction between lecturers and students. Some of my classes were also open to other students, which was a great way to meet people outside of my degree pathway. Also my lecturer organised activities like urban walks and guest lectures, which was both very engaging and intimate. They expanded my learning experience beyond the conventional class environment. 

A creative atmosphere

The vibrant, creative energy of Goldsmiths students was infectious. Not only was it channelled through the activities that students organised, it also permeated the atmosphere of the campus. Goldsmiths is also situated in New Cross, with rich histories of resistance that I had never known before. 

Broadened perspectives

Studying at Goldsmiths and meeting all the fascinating people has really broadened my perspectives on thinking about multiculture, social justice, the UK (Brexit, cost of living crisis etc), international current affairs, cities, migration experiences, activism, communities, art, decolonisation, race and gender (which aren't particularly mainstream topics of discussion where I'm from), and my very own story. 

Many opportunities to learn

As an international student from a city in which the education system doesn't encourage students to reflect, question, reach out, or actively look for answers, my advice would be to live the opportunity and dive deep. Get actively involved in communities (for example, student clubs, or volunteering in your neighbourhood, which I did!). Venture outside your degree and the Goldsmiths campus – after all, London is full of opportunities to learn. Join a march, walk around, travel the UK, and more! 

Alternative London

As a sociology student I found South East London and where Goldsmiths is situated extremely fascinating – a window into alternative and important histories of London, beyond stereotypical imaginings. It's somewhere I eventually fell in love with and moved to!

Working for a Nordic think tank

I am currently doing an internship in Helsinki, Finland, at a Nordic think tank. I am in the Transformative Governance team, working on a project about broadening civic participation in the decision-making process of Colorado's new Climate Preparedness Office. I'm also working on a project on experimental governance on regulating tech for Meta, as well as some other tasks including proposal writing. My main responsibility is conducting background research and writing reports. I sometimes help another team – the Regenerative Infrastructure team – with hosting workshops for their city projects. 

I particularly enjoy learning about all these new topics I'd never learned before. Even though these governance topics might be new to me, my research and writing skills are useful in drafting background research reports, which are important first steps of projects. I really enjoy the process of diving into new topics – researching and finding answers to questions I care about. Though I might not continue in think tanks, I do see myself working in research-related positions in the future. 

Reid Allen

The staff in the Sociology department were fantastic and the course was delivered creatively and with a present-day focus.

Inspiring teaching

I enjoyed studying at Goldsmiths. The staff in the Sociology department were fantastic and the course was delivered creatively and with a present-day focus. I was regularly inspired by lecturers and researchers working within Goldsmiths humanities and social sciences departments.

Favourite campus spots

The well-equipped library was excellent. The working rooms at the top of the Warmington Tower and the balcony area were my favourite places to work/take breaks. Lots of good food surrounding Goldsmiths - such as Cummin Up - get the Jerk Fried Rice for only £2.50! Cheapest lunch around and tasty too.

Life after Goldsmiths

I am now working as a Research Assistant for Nottingham Trent University. I wanted to get into this work for some time but without an MA, and some experience working on a project with Emma Jackson in the CUCR, it wouldn't have been possible. I really enjoy this work and the opportunity to understand social issues in more depth and produce research which can help combat them. I would like to work at this level for a few years before considering a PhD.

Advice for future students

Goldsmiths is a great place to study in a bubbling area of London. I'd advise getting a bike, saves you lots of money and keeps you fit! And I'd just advise people to try and get the most out of the degree they're doing - hassle staff for more knowledge! - and use the facilities that Goldsmiths has.

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 2024/2025 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £10350
  • Home - part-time: £5175
  • International - full-time: £20460

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.

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 academic qualifications
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively a copy of your academic reference
  • Copies of your educational transcripts or certificates
  • 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

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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