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This programme brings together social analysis, design, activism, and inventive research methods in a critical engagement with various dimensions of urban work – from planning, policy making, research, cultural intervention, to the management of social programmes and institutions.

Increasingly, no matter how we live, we know this 'world' primarily through the experience of living within and between cities. These cities continuously produce new challenges for their inhabitants and administrators. In doing so, they also produce opportunities for understanding the constraints and potentials of both human and non-human life.

The MA Cities and Society is a research and training programme designed to support strategic interventions in urban governance, design, institution-building and change, as well as social-spatial development. Distinguished by it's theoretical rigour, integrity and amenability to experimental empirical research, the programme focuses particularly on:

  • The organisation of contemporary urban economies, including the production of built and virtual environments, physical and social infrastructure
  • The ways in which different forms of economic accumulation and economic practices impact upon cities, and how any city reflects a particular set of constraints and possibilities
  • The proliferation of technical systems, media, and practices of interpretation and organisation that change our notions about the ‘proper’ use of things and bodies
  • The intersections of finance, governance, ecology, and culture in producing multiple forms for assessing urban futures; particularly calculations of risk, sustainability, productivity and creativity

This programme covers the following disciplines: geography, anthropology, architecture, cultural studies, fine arts, media and communications.

Modules & structure

The programme consists of:


One hour lectures address the core themes of each module, followed by one hour seminars in small groups (under 20). You'll be encouraged to attend dissertation classes that train you in the basic principles of dissertation preparation, research and writing. You are also 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 thus 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 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 Sociology and related departments and centres to provide a catalyst for independent thought and study. 

Expert walks and seminars

The course is also 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 project managers and planners from organisations such as the Greater London Authority, and take students through the sites of that their work focuses on. 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 Cities and Society a spaces to join in with the Centre’s intellectual community.  


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 core modules).


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 in this programme 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

Visit the Cities & Society - MA page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!






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