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Cultural Geography (MA)

Course Description

The MA Cultural Geography (Research) is celebrating its 20th birthday in 2015-2016. The course was founded in 1995 as one of the first masters programmes in the world to offer students focused engagement with the then emerging sub-discipline of Cultural Geography.

Twenty years later and Cultural Geography is one of the most dynamic sub-disciplines in contemporary geography. Our course reflects this dynamism. We combine core concepts with research methods training and interdisciplinary scholarship and practice. We develop this alongside innovative placements and research engagements with some of world’s top cultural institution, located on our doorstep in London.

Thematically cultural geography focuses on the interconnections between place,landscape, environment, mobilities and identity, and thus has profound relevance for the contemporary world. Our graduates go onto work in a range of sectors, including the arts and cultural sector, publishing, planning and urban policy, private and public sector research work as well as many carrying on to further doctoral study.

As profiles of our recent students (https://landscapesurgery.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/maculturalgeography/) show, the course attracts a diverse range of students from a range of backgrounds, not just those with geography degrees.

To see more about the activities around the MA Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway, please look at our research group blog Landscape Surgery - https://landscapesurgery.wordpress.com/ .

See the website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/geography/coursefinder/maculturalgeography.aspx

Why choose this course?

- This well established course aims to provide research training and practice at Master’s level in Human Geography, with a particular emphasis on Cultural Geography; to prepare you for independent research at doctoral level in Human Geography; and to develop specialised knowledge and understanding of research, particularly involving cultural analysis, interpretation and practice.

- The course has a strong track record in gaining Research Council Funding for students. This includes ESRC 1+3 funding as well as funding from AHRC TECHNE. Please see the funding opportunities page for further details.

- The MA in Cultural Geography (Research) combines the vibrant research of the outstanding Social and Cultural Geography group with cutting edge teaching. The quality of our course was recognised by our external examiner as offering a gold-standard for the sector. Our teaching was nationally recognised by the student nominated award for “Best Teaching Team” (Arts and Humanities) at the National Prospects Post-Graduate Awards (2013).

- The programme includes cutting-edge conceptual teaching in themes such as theories of place and space, postcolonial geographies, geographies of knowledge, mapping and exploration, landscape, memory and heritage, geographies of consumption, material geographies, geographies of embodiment, practice and performance, critical urbanisms and creative geographies.

- At RHUL we are known for our commitment to collaborative research, offering you the chance to develop your seminar and tutorial-based learning alongside world leading cultural institutions. These include the Science Museum, V&A Museum, Museum of London, British Library, Natural History Museum, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Institute for International Visual Arts, and the Royal Geographical Society.

- You will be well prepared to continue to a PhD, building on the research you have completed on this course.

Department research and industry highlights

Social and Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway emphasises the cultural politics of place, space and landscape. The Group's research stresses theoretically informed and informative work, values equally contemporary and historical scholarship, and engages with diverse geographical locations within and beyond the UK.

SCG is home to a large and intellectually vibrant postgraduate community. There are around 40-50 postgraduates in the Group at any time. Many of the past graduates of the MA and SCG PhDs are now established academics in their own right.

SCG is well-known for its collaboration with a range of cultural institutions beyond the academy; recent partners include the the Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Maritime Museum, British Library, British Museum, Museum of London and the Royal Geographical Society. The Group also has a tradition of including creative practitioners within its activities, as artists in residence, as research fellows and through participation in major research projects.

Many leading journals are edited by group staff, including Cultural Geographies, the Journal of Historical Geography, Geoforum, History Workshop Journal and GeoHumanities. Please see the Landscape Surgery blog for further information on Social and Cultural Geography activities at RHUL.

Course content and structure

The programme consists of four elements, all assessed by coursework.

- Element 1: Contemporary Cultural Geographies
This is a programme of seminars on current ideas, theory and practice in Cultural and Human Geography. It includes the following themes: theories of place; colonial and postcolonial geographies; biographies of material culture; embodiment, practice and place; geographies of consumption; culture, nature and landscape; space, politics and democracy; cultures of politics.

- Element 2: Methods and Techniques in Cultural Geography
This consists of a programme of workshops devoted to research methodologies and techniques in Cultural Geography. It includes research strategies and project design; reflexivity and ethics; ethnographic research; social survey; qualitative data analysis and computing; visual methodologies; interpreting texts; interpreting things; interpreting movement; negotiating the archives; the arts of cultural geography.

- Element 3: Research Training
You will be introduced to the culture of research in Human Geography and provided with a broad training for independent research within contemporary cultural geography. This element supplements the more specialised research training in research techniques in Element 2, and culminates in a 5,000 word research proposal for the Dissertation.

- Element 4: Dissertation
You will produce a substantial (15-18,000 word) research dissertation, under supervision.

On completion of the course graduates will have:
- advanced knowledge and expertise in the field of Cultural Geography and its current research questions
- advanced knowledge in the ideas, approaches and substantive themes of contemporary Cultural Geographies
- advanced knowledge of the research methods and techniques of Cultural Geography
- knowledge of the culture of research.


Assessment is by coursework only. Formative feedback and detailed ongoing discussion of work before final submission is a central part of the teaching ethos of the course. Students also have significant autonomy in the selection of topics for coursework and dissertation allowing them to develop particular interests and specialisms.

Contemporary Cultural Geographies (Element 1)
Assessed by two course essays of up to 5,000 words (25% of final mark).

Methods and Techniques in Cultural Geography (Element 2)
Assessed by two workshop reports of up to 5,000 words (25% of final mark).

Research Training (Element 3)
Assessed by a 5,000-word dissertation proposal and satisfactory completion of modules taken in the element (Pass required).

Dissertation (Element 4)
Assessed by submission of a completed dissertation of 15-18,000 words. (50% of final mark).

Employability & career opportunities

Throughout the MA we spend time exploring possible career trajectories with our students.

This includes working on PhD applications – over 50% of our students go onto do PhDs and many go into academic position thereafter.

We also run a series of placement days with key cultural institutions in and around London including, British Library, Royal Geographical Society and Kew that help students develop skills, experience and contacts.

In recent years our graduates have entered a range of sectors, including the creative industries (advertising and marketing), the museum and research sectors (British Library, National Archive, and research assistantships in various academic projects).

We offer a series of course and activities to support career development:

1) Transferable Skills sessions

During the course staff on the MA not only teach key ideas and research methods, but also help students hone a series of transferable skills. As well as writing and presentation skills, activities on Element three enable the development of team-working and delegation skills. We also hold a series of dedicated skills sessions during the course including social media skills and networking skills run both by staff and by specialists from the careers office.

2) Career Development sessions and workshops

Both staff on the MA and the specialist staff at RHUL career centre offer tailored career development sessions. These might involve talking about developing an academic career, exploring careers in the cultural sector, as well as generic skills such as preparing your CV and developing a Linkedin profile.

3) Cultural Engagements and Placements

Staff on the MA course make the most of their research links with arts and cultural organisations to help students develop placement based work during their course.

Element three activities are designed to help students build up their CVs but also their contacts, and we are happy to help arrange shorter placements during element 1 and 2 pieces or longer-term placements for dissertation work. Past placements have seen students working with a range of key cultural institutions in and around London including the Royal Geographical Society, Kew Gardens, Furtherfield Digital Media and The British Museum.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studyhere/postgraduate/applying/howtoapply.aspx .

Visit the Cultural Geography (MA) page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent. IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores.

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