School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

MA Cultural Studies

Key information

Duration
Full time - 1 year Part time - 2 or 3 years
Start of programme
September intake only
Attendance mode
Full-time or Part-time
Location
Russell Square: College Buildings

Course overview

The MA Cultural Studies programme aims to offer grounding in the theories on Cultural Studies which draws on Marxism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, Post-Marxism, Feminism, and Post-Modernism and their use, application and adaption in the cross-cultural contexts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  It provides an examination of the main historical concepts in Western culture such as ideology, power, class, identity, race, nation, subjectivity, representation, and memory and how these are challenged by scholars working in non-Western cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The aim is to explore the different and plural cultural histories and memories of these contexts to which Cultural Studies must adapt.

Theoretical paradigms covered will reflect on issues of class, ‘race’, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, representation and religion. The course will investigate central questions of epistemology and methodology in relation to the application of Cultural Studies theories in non-Western contexts. The programme is theory and practice based and therefore, it draws on case studies from a diversity of cultural practices, genres and contexts to elucidate complex theoretical concepts and challenge their limitations and/or validity in the context of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The MA Cultural Studies programme aims to equip students with sufficient knowledge to understand and evaluate the way in which Cultural Studies theories and methods are used in cross-cultural contexts and hence develop analytic skills for undertaking their own research projects.

Why study Cultures at SOAS?

  • SOAS is specialist in the studies of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia
  • we ranked 1st in London in the Complete University Guide 2021 for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and 6th in the UK
  • we also ranked 8th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2021 for South Asian Studies
  • Modern Languages and Linguistics at SOAS has been ranked 10th in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
  • we've also been ranked 4th for research environment - with 100% of our research ranked as 'internationally excellent' and 85% as 'world-leading' - and 8th for research outputs in the REF 2021
  • access SOAS’s comprehensive cross-regional expertise and gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of these regions in an increasingly globalised world
  • solid methodological and interdisciplinary foundation
  • students have an opportunity to develop a holistic and integrated approach to the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East through their languages and cultures

Structure

Students take 180 credits , 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. You may take a 30 credit language acquisition module at appropriate level as one of your modules.

Programme

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules .

Compulsory modules

Students can take 60 credits from List A below AND 30 credits of postgraduate open options OR 30 credits of an appropriate level language acquisition module

Politics and International Studies

Teaching and learning

One-year Masters programmes consist of 180 credits . 120 credits are taught in modules of 30 credits (taught over 20 weeks) or 15 credits (taught over 10 weeks); the dissertation makes up the remaining 60 units. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

Contact hours

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework and revising for examinations. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.

More information is on the page for each module.

Learning outcome

Knowledge

  • How to analyse and interpret cultural practices critically.
  • How to apply a variety of critical theories to Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultural productions including film, media, literature, art, etc.
  • How to explore a research topic and locate materials, use research sources (particularly research library catalogues and electronic databases) and other relevant traditional sources.
  • How to develop a critical approach to Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures in which students question the tenets of Western-derived theories and their applicability to non-Western contexts, and through a variety of approaches gain an understanding of the social and political role and function of and role of culture in Asian, African and Middle Eastern societies.
  • The specificity of cultural paradigms of a region or regions of Asia/Africa and the Middle East.
  • A thorough grounding in the theories and methodologies of Cultural Studies

Intellectual (thinking) skills

  • Students are introduced to a number of theoretical approaches to cultural productions such as literature, film and media.
  • Students are taught the importance of how theories raise questions about cultural products.
  • Having successfully completed the programme, students will be able to:
    • analyse cultural products in a systematic and creative way from a variety of perspectives
    • research the data necessary for making cultural analytical judgements
    • evaluate and apply independent research methods
    • demonstrate originality in dealing with cultural studies issues
    • successfully conduct an advanced independent research project
    • formulate and test interpretations
    • understand cultural studies practice and critically examine the social and political contexts of cultural production.
  • Students will become aware of and think through problems involved when applying a mainly ‘Western’ body of literary theory to Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures.

Subject-based practical skills

  • Communicate effectively and analytically in writing on subjects related to cultural studies theories and their application in the contexts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
  • Listen and discuss critically ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes.
  • Gain knowledge of Asian or African cultures

Subject-based practical skills

  • Communicate effectively and analytically in writing on subjects related to cultural studies theories and their application in the contexts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
  • Listen and discuss critically ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes.
  • Gain knowledge of Asian or African cultures

Transferrable skills

  • Write good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Question the assumptions or theories and methodologies.
  • Study a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.
  • Present assessed and non – assessed material orally.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2023/24 entrants, per academic year (Band 1 tuition fee)

Full-time Part-time 2 years Part-time 3 years
Home students Overseas students Home students Overseas students Home students Overseas students
£12,220 £24,350 £6,110 £12,175 £4,075 £8,115

Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second and subsequent years of study will be higher.

Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Employment

Graduates of the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with skills in written and oral communication, analysis and problem solving.

Recent graduates have been hired by:

  • Africa Matters
  • Amnesty International
  • Arab British Chamber of Commerce
  • BBC World Service
  • British High Commission
  • Council for British Research in the Levant
  • Department for International Development
  • Edelman
  • Embassy of Jordan
  • Ernst & Young
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Google
  • Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
  • Middle East Eye
  • Saïd Foundation
  • TalkAbout Speech Therapy
  • The Black Curriculum
  • The Telegraph
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • Wall Street Journal

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