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Visual Sociology (MA)

Course Description

Designed for students interested in new ways of exploring and understanding the social world through the use of visual, sensory and other experimental approaches, this programme allows you to study sociological issues alongside innovative methods- http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/ma-visual-sociology/

The MA will enable you to intervene in and represent the social world by developing the ability to undertake empirical research and present it publicly in a variety of media and materials.

You will engage with sociology as an inventive research practice, orientated towards the creative deployment of research methods.

An introduction to debates in visual and sensory sociology

The MA in Visual Sociology provides an introduction to the range of debates in visual and sensory sociology, encouraging you to build on these by using visual and sensory methodological practices to carry out critical social research in your areas of interest, whether this is science and technology, contemporary capitalism, gender and sexual cultures, human rights, globalisation or other aspects of social life.

A hands-on approach to sociological research

The programme combines lectures and seminars with practical sessions and workshop-based projects in which you develop a hands-on approach to sociological research, providing a skill base in methods which could be used in public sector contexts, art/media research, design or commercial application.

As well as presenting your ideas through writing, during the course you will have the opportunity to produce a range of different outputs including exhibitions, visual models and film/video. Critical feedback sessions function as a testing ground for individual projects.

Themed projects allow groups of students to further develop a portfolio of research outputs geared to a variety of audiences. The dissertation allows you to undertake a substantive research project geared to your individual interests.

You will have access to the Visual Media Lab, which offers post-production and editing stations, as well as equipment for photography and video. Students can also borrow equipment from the Media Equipment Centre.

At the forefront of the discipline

The MA is based in the Department of Sociology, home of the The Methods Lab and at the forefront of research using live methods. It is taught by staff with a wide range of experience in both sociology and interdisciplinary research, including visual and experimental approaches.

The course is suitable for applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds, including art, design, anthropology, media and communications, cultural studies, geography, and sociology.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Rebecca Coleman.

Modules & Structure

Core modules:
In the first part of the course you will take 'Introduction to Sensory Sociology', a module that investigates the transformation of sociology in the age of visual, digital and other empirical methods. The module 'Key Debates for Inventive and Visual Sociology' enables you to address debates within visual sociology, and also encompasses more recent issues surrounding the notions of media, translation and studio practice which are associated with inventive approaches. Assessment of these modules is by essay.

Alongside these modules you will take a core practical component that offers the opportunity to gain skills in photography, sound and video and to develop materials that engage a sociological imagination. A central focus is on how to translate a research question into a variety of materials or media and to be able to critically discuss the selection and use of these.

In the second term you continue with a practical module in inventive sociology in which students working individually or in groups respond to a theme to create a visual, sensory or experimental object or media. Assessment of the practical work includes a diary of research process alongside documentation of work.

These core modules are taught in Sociology. In the second term you will also take an option that may be chosen from Sociology or may be taken from departments across Goldsmiths including the Departments of Anthropology, English and Comparative Literature, Politics, Media and Communications, Educational Studies, Music, and the Centre for Cultural Studies. 

In the summer term you will complete a dissertation involving a major practical project consisting of any media and addressing a specific sociological problem. You will meet for individual supervision with a member of the Sociology staff.
 The dissertation is a substantive piece of research in which you develop a visual, inventive or experimental approach to a topic of your choice.

Option modules:
You will chose an option module to the value of 30 credits from Sociology or from departments across the College including the Departments of Anthropology, English and Comparative Literature, Politics, Media and Communications, Music, Educational Studies, and the Centre for Cultural Studies.

Modules in Sociology address themes such as:

contemporary capitalism and inequality
human rights
globalisation and urban life
gender and sexuality
science, technology and medicine
digitisation of social life

Skills & Careers

This programme attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds, including art and design, business, and the third sector, as well as those with social science degrees. This means the careers that they are interested in pursuing are wide and varied.

The programme helps students develop their critical and analytical abilities as well as a number of other practical skills and competencies, which are valued in different sectors. For example, as well as reflecting moves within sociology to study the visual and sensory, the MA also responds to how sociological methods – such as interviews, focus groups and ethnography – are increasingly used in commercial settings, including in social and market research, and in research and development for international companies.

The programme can lead to many types of career including in the arts and creative industries, the charity and public sectors, social research. A number of graduates from the programme are also interested in pursuing further academic research.


Please visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/pg/fees-funding/ for details.

Visit the Visual Sociology (MA) page on the Goldsmiths, University of London website for more details!

Student Profiles

Banco Santander Scholarships - 7 Awards

In partnership with Banco Santander, Goldsmiths will be awarding seven scholarships to outstanding candidates from within the Santander Universidades network. Each scholarship provides a £5,000 fee waiver and is tenable for one year only.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Scholarships will be open to students applying to study a taught masters degree (excludes MRes and Masters by Research) in any discipline starting in September 2016. The countries targeted (although not exclusively, should exceptional candidates apply from other eligible countries*) will be:Mexico
* The Santander Universidades scheme covers institutions in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, United Arab Emirates, UK, Uruguay and USA.

Application Procedure

Your scholarship application should be completed online through your myGoldsmiths account. This is the online account that you created in order to apply for a course at Goldsmiths.As part of the application, you'll be asked to answer three questions relevant to the award that you are applying for.For more information, please see the Banco Santander Scholarships page.

Further Information



Goldsmiths Masters Scholarships - 20+ Awards

Please note that scholarship schemes and awards are subject to the availability of funds, and the details given here are subject to change at any time. we therefore encourage you to check this information regularly.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Home and EU students (full-time and part-time).

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information



The Goldsmiths' Company Postgraduate Bursaries - 4 Awards

Please see website for more details

Value of Scholarship(s)



Students on taught postgraduate programmes (not including MA Filmmaking or PGCEs) starting October 2015. You must be: a UK student; new to postgraduate study; experiencing financial difficulties. You should also demonstrate academic potential and you must not be in receipt of any Goldsmiths, AHRC or ESRC funding.

Application Procedure

Applications for 2015 entry are now closed.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in Sociology or a relevant/related subject. You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level. IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0).

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