Cultural and Critical Studies MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
View course-specific entry requirements
You should have a good Honours degree (usually 2:1 or above, or equivalent) in a relevant subject area. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 with 7.0 in writing (or equivalent). Applicants may also be asked to provide an example of previous written work as part of the application. The University offers pre-sessional summer programmes if you need to improve your English before starting your course.
This interdisciplinary course offers you the rare opportunity to study contemporary critical and cultural debates across a wide range of fields. Exploring a variety of different visual, textual and spatial forms of culture, and their diverse theorisations, the course will particularly appeal to those with wide-ranging interests in the arts and humanities, as well as those interested in cutting-edge theoretical debates.
Modules are taught by expert staff from a number of different disciplines, giving you the chance to follow particular themes in the areas that most interest you. Recent work by staff in Cultural and Critical Studies includes books and articles on new media, urban theory, gender, contemporary art and aesthetics, Victorian criminality, China, visual culture, architecture, post-colonialism and critical theory.
The course consists of two main core modules, Capitalism and Culture, and Problems and Perspectives in Cultural Studies. These establish a framework for the close analysis of the locations, products and systems of culture. The dissertation of 10-12,000 words, which can be written on an appropriate topic of your choice, and the Research Methods module are also core modules. There is also an optional work placement module.
You are encouraged to attend the research seminars in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, at which visiting speakers, creative practitioners and teaching staff present their current work.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
CAPITALISM AND CULTURE
Beginning with Marx’s famous account of the commodity in the first chapter of Capital, this module explores a range of theoretical accounts of capitalism and examines their significance to the analysis of different cultural forms, including film, literature, and the contemporary visual arts. In doing so, you will consider changing conceptions of ‘culture’ itself, and its varying relations to ideas of art, modernity, production, the masses, autonomy, spectacle, and the culture industry.
This extended piece of research work is an opportunity for you to pursue a topic of individual interest, and is conducted through individual study and directed supervision. The module is designed to support and develop your independent research skills.
PROBLEMS AND PERSPECTIVES IN CULTURAL STUDIES
This module provides you with a critical introduction to contemporary cultural studies through analysis of the major approaches underlying the interdisciplinary, cross-cultural study of society. It is built around readings of some of the most influential theorists in the field, and key themes you will cover include: ideology and subjectivity; gender and race in cultural studies; discourse and practice; media theory; contemporary times and spaces; and shifting identities in the public spheres of multi-culturalist, transnationalist and global movements.
Choose four from:
Engaging the Archive
Through workshops and seminars, this module introduces you to practical and theoretical issues of using archives for the purposes of research or exhibition. With privileged access to the unique collections of the University of Westminster Archive, the module will enable you to examine: the principles of archival practice; how context, authorship, intentionality and audience participate in the construction of meanings of archive documents; the politics of the archive, including curatorial and artistic intervention, and the creation of alternative histories; the impact of digitisation, and issues of copyright and authorship.
This module studies the ways that various forms of space are used in cultural life, and how they are represented visually, from architectural spaces, urban spaces, public and private spaces, inhabited and non-inhabited spaces to virtual spaces. The module examines relationships between space and place in order to explore how cultural forms are located in, and productive of, space. The module also includes a range of site visits.
Reading Contemporary Culture
This module examines the idea of British literary culture since the 1990s. Beginning with Carlyle, the notion of literature as an ‘industry’ has been resisted by a strong tradition of cultural criticism in Britain. This module discusses what happened to this tradition, whether it still exists, and what may have replaced it. By focusing particularly on the relationships between writing and film, and writing and the visual arts, the module investigates the state and status of literary writing during this period. Authors studied include A.S. Byatt, Sarah Kane, Zadie Smith, Sarah Waters and Irvine Welsh.
Representing World Cultures
This module examines the issues and practices involved in presenting non-western cultures to a diverse audience through visual practices. You will look at how representation produces meaning, and consider the main frameworks that can help you understand how cultures are represented in a range of contexts. Key issues explored include: postcolonialism; globalisation; the relationship between photography and ideology; the ethics of representation; the birth of the museum; contemporary roles of western cultural institutions; and audiences as citizens and consumers. The module is run through seminars and workshops in London museums and archives.
Trauma in American Modernity: The Nation and its Limits
This interdisciplinary module explores the emergence of American trauma culture from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Drawing upon key literary, cultural, and critical texts, the course interrogates the ways in which evolving conceptions of trauma are inherently related to the changing conditions of historical modernity, informed by processes of industrialisation, technologisation, militarisation, and securitisation. Seminars will highlight the paradoxes and inconsistencies inherent to various trauma paradigms, examining the ambiguous relations they construct between individuals and collectives, internal and external borders, mind and body, past and present, private and public life.
Using a range of theoretical, historical, literary, cinematic, visual and other cultural texts, you will explore the idea of urban culture as it has developed since the mid-19th century. The module considers a variety of different representations of the city, and the ways in which they understand the specificity of urban experience itself. You will also explore the changing global forms and interrelations of ‘western’ and ‘non-western’ urban forms.
Work Placement in Cultural Institutions
This module aims to enable students to gain first-hand experience of working within a context relevant to their career objectives; to enhance the opportunities for translating theoretical and practical knowledge into professional skills and to encourage students to make beneficial connections within a professional context.
The course is intended to give you sophisticated critical skills and a widely applicable knowledge of contemporary culture. This enables further study at MPhil or PhD levels, but is also particularly relevant to a range of professions in the media, creative and cultural industries.
Length of course
One year, full-time or two years, part-time (January start available)
Central London (Regent)
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
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We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
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In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
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