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MA Critical and Cultural Theory

Course Description


This programme takes a philosophical, theoretical and historical approach to cultural studies, exploring the work of cultural criticism, reception and production through new critical perspectives, interdisciplinary insights and a vast spectrum of applications and opportunities.

We study the major traditions of cultural theory, including semiology, deconstruction, feminism, psychoanalysis, and Frankfurt School theories of the aesthetic, the media and technology. This training enables you to shape your thinking critically and develop your interests in a rigorously analytical context.

These theoretical and historical perspectives allow us to tease out the critical charge embedded in the notion of culture itself, and the transformative potential of creative and critical work in the arts and humanities.

Close reading and textuality are at the heart of the course, encouraging you to think critically about issues of modernity and postmodernity, the postcolonial, subjectivity and sexuality.

The degree is also available to study part-time over 24 months. The part-time MA may be of special interest to those who are working in related fields as part of their career development.

Diverse and Dynamic

Founded in 1987 (as MA Cultural Studies), and situated in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies, this programme appeals to students from across the humanities who are interested in a broad range of objects and genres including literature, film and the visual arts, performance, music, and philosophy.

You’ll work alongside students in different creative and critical disciplines and benefit from the diverse research interests of our tutors. It’s a dynamic environment where you’ll gain valuable knowledge and skills in a city with a vibrant cultural life.

Leeds University Library is one of the major academic research libraries in the UK with extensive print, online and manuscript collections. The University Library offers a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of them. The School houses Parallax, published by Taylor and Francis, an internationally distributed journal of cultural theory and analysis.

Course Content

The two modules that sit at the heart of this course will develop your understanding of cultural theory over time.

You’ll develop an understanding of the ideas of “commodity” and “commodity fetish” that are central to the study of consumer culture, as well as issues around language, sign and discourse and subjectivity. Then you’ll put this into the context of the development of cultural studies, focusing on thinkers from Rousseau to Kant and Homi Bhabha. You’ll use film and other texts to explore these ideas.

In each semester you’ll also have the chance to specialise when you choose from a range of optional modules. From Derrida and deconstruction to medieval art, representations of the Holocaust, technology and the media, Jewish culture and aesthetic theory, you’ll be able to focus on topics that suit your personal interests.

At the same time, you’ll build your knowledge of research methods and improve your own skills. To demonstrate all you’ve learned, you’ll work towards presenting your research at a symposium in Semester 2 and complete a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Visit the MA Critical and Cultural Theory page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Hons) in a relevant subject. IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components. We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Please contact us for more information.

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