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.
Diverse and dynamic
This course began in 1987, when an interdisciplinary MA in Cultural Studies was founded at Leeds. From the outset, the course emphasised the theoretical, philosophical and historical aspects of work in cultural criticism, reception and production. The name was changed to better reflect this approach, and it continues to draw students from across the humanities who are thinking about and working with a broad range of objects and genres including literature, film, visual arts, performance, music and philosophy.
Cultural studies emerged as a discipline in the mid-20th century as a critical, scholarly response to the social movements of the time – anti-colonial struggles, the civil rights movement and feminism – and as a rigorous study of the relations between culture and class.
The MA is housed in a School with an ambitious interdisciplinary project, an active fine art community, a critically and politically engaged history of art degree and a dynamic museum studies course. While this rich context is one of its defining characteristics, the MA is not limited to a consideration of art and aesthetics. Our approach is also informed by other cultural forms, such as text, music and popular culture and critical traditions – from literary criticism and semiology to sound studies and new thinking on technology, gender, and the posthuman.
The University incorporates world-class library resources and collections. The Brotherton Library holds a wide variety of archive and early printed material in its Special Collections which are available for use in your independent research. Our other library resources are also excellent, and the University Library offers a comprehensive training programme to help you make the most of them.
The School houses Parallax, published by Taylor & Francis, an internationally distributed journal of cultural theory and analysis.