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Course Content

Course content

This exciting degree offers you the opportunity to study one of the major areas in contemporary media and communications – branding. 

The unique programme introduces you to the variety of ways in which brands are developed and used, and helps you to understand how the growth of branding – in business, but also in politics, government, sport and culture – has changed the societies we live in.

What happens when the state starts to use branding techniques to communicate with its citizens?

And how does the rise of digital and social media change the relationship between brands and their publics?

What, for example, are the consequences of understanding political parties, artists or sports teams as ‘brands’?

An introduction to contemporary branding debates

The MA in Brands, Communication and Culture aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the history and development of brands and branding, and their relationship to contemporary forms of communication and culture. Specifically, you should acquire an in-depth knowledge of the social, political and economic backdrop against which branding has become so important, and an understanding of the key themes and debates surrounding its development and use, including the relationship between brands and intellectual property, and the extent to which branding promotes or inhibits openness and transparency within organisations.

You will also improve your ability to think critically and creatively about contemporary communications and cultural practices. When you have completed the programme you will have at your disposal a range of tools that will enable you to analyse contemporary communications, to make judgments about their significance and value and be able to thoughtfully contribute to contemporary communications.

A unique approach to the study of brands

This MA is not a conventional branding or marketing course. Instead it offers a unique approach to the study of brands. This is reflected in the topics taught on our core modules, which include:

  • The role of brands in and beyond markets
  • The rise of consumer culture
  • Critical perspectives on brand management and governance
  • Intellectual property
  • Immaterial labour and the rise of ‘branded workers’
  • Gender, colonial history and branding
  • Attachment, identity and emotions in branding
  • Ethics and transparency
  • The emergence of brand experiences and ‘staging’ of brands
  • Fair trade and accountability
  • Branded spaces and communities
  • Social media and open source cultures
  • Geodemographics and new forms of social classification

The MA Brands, Communication and Culture is taught across two departments: Media & Communications and Sociology. This gives you access to experts in many fields. In addition to the two core courses you will have the opportunity to customize your degree by choosing from a range of modules from different departments to allow you to explore your own interests and make wider connections.

We welcome students who bring to the course a range of experiences and interests in communication, management, politics, design and the cultural industries.

Recent dissertation topics include:

  • Branding post-capitalism? An investigation of crowdfunding platforms
  • Trespassed City: Mapping London’s privately owned public spaces
  • The rise of co-working spaces
  • Craft Entrepreneurs: an inquiry into the rise of artisanal production in post-industrial cities
  • Hashtags in photo sharing social media apps
  • Consumer culture in contemporary Shanghai
  • Branding of NGOs
  • Sustainable brand strategies - good for the environment or just a selling strategy?
  • Fashion bloggers and cultural capital
  • Medical tourism and branded healthcare
  • Intellectual property in the fashion industry
  • Branding London's districts

Modules & structure

The programme is made up of two core modules (60 credits in total), between two and four options modules (60 credits in total), and a dissertation (60 credits).

The first core module, Branding I, introduces you to contemporary definitions and theories of branding, its history and development, changes in the role of marketing, promotion and design, and their place in the global economy.

The second core module, Branding II, puts greater emphasis on contemporary themes and issues in branding, and their relationship to wider debates in society, economy and culture.

Throughout the core components of the degree, you will examine the wide range of ways in which branding is currently used, in organisations ranging from large corporations to public sector bodies, charities and other third sector organisations.

For the optional modules, you'll have an opportunity to explore some of the wider contexts for brands and branding by taking up to 60 credits of modules provided elsewhere in Media and Communications or neighbouring departments such as SociologyCultural Studies and Anthropology.

Part-time students typically take the two core modules in their first year, and the options modules plus the dissertation in their second year.

Vocational elements

The department offers some practice-based options in areas such as:

  • Media Futures
  • Online Journalism
  • Campaign Skills
  • Media Law and Ethics
  • Design Methods
  • Processes for Innovation

Assessment

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

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.

Skills

The programme helps students to develop a high-level understanding of contemporary branding and communications techniques and their social, economic and political contexts. You will be encouraged to develop your critical reasoning skills and your understanding of contemporary cultural and media theory, but also to develop greater visual literacy and a capacity for creative thinking. Assessments are designed to ensure that you are able to apply these skills in practical ways.

Careers

The programme equips you with the skills necessary to pursue a wide range of careers related to branding and communication in the media and other industries. Students are encouraged to seek work experience and work placements during the programme 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


Visit the Brands, Communication & Culture - MA page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!

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