The University of Southampton

ARTD6111 Cultural Politics: Theories

Module Overview

The module is designed to introduce you to various contemporary theories of cultural politics relevant to the study of the discipline such as ideology, power, and subjectivity. The content of the module provides a context for you to understand the complexity of cultural politics and contemporary cultural theory understood as a form of narrative that seeks to distinguish and account for the general features that describe, define, and explain persistently perceived occurrences. The important topics discussed in the module are the main ways in which the concept of cultural politics might be understood as a theoretical tool, instrument, or logic for intervening in the world through the mechanisms of description and prediction. This will enable you to grasp how often-problematic cultural theories, political reflections, cultural discoveries, and political objective/subjective ‘truths’ debated throughout the MA are pertinent to theoretical investigations of notions such as ‘independence’ ‘object’, ‘subject’, and ‘world’. The content of the module focuses on theory construction for cultural politics, namely discipline specific self-reflexive discursive endeavours that seek to interpret and intervene in the worlds of culture and politics by way of Marxism and feminism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. By comprehending these ideas, you will be able to appreciate how to negotiate and manage cultural concepts and political arguments that researchers face in re-defining and critiquing prior work. The aim of the module is thus to offer you numerous conceptions of the idea of cultural politics and ways in which to think about the worlds of culture and politics and their interrelationships.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The MA Cultural Politics is based on the idea that you need to develop a whole variety of theoretical, cultural, and political study skills throughout your time on the degree, which will improve not only your ability to debate contemporary issues of culture and politics but also your employability. The module introduces you to an array of appropriate skills for creating cultural and political maps of meaning. The aim is to provide a context and a comprehensive awareness of the conceptual challenges faced by cultural and political theorists in a multifaceted and increasingly culturally and politically diverse social world. By the end of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate a variety of learning outcomes aimed at facilitating your capacity to understand and debate, for example, theoretical questions of culture and politics, empiricism, knowledge, facts, theoretical deduction and induction.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Informed critical awareness of the key theoretical tendencies and questions influencing the role of contemporary cultural and political theorists
  • The distinguishing features of cultural politics, description, definition, and explanation and an advanced perspective of the different functions of culture and politics.
  • The role of theoretical tools, instruments, and logics for analysing trends and intervening in the world by way of cultural politics
  • The ways in which disciplines such as cultural politics are shaped by their mechanisms of description, definition and prediction.
  • The advanced theoretical skills that are applicable to cultural reflection and political discovery inclusive of numerous conceptions of objective/subjective truths.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work with and develop supportive relations within an eclectic miscellany of fellow cultural and political theorists that will involve an ability to weigh critical positions, construct cultural arguments, and structure political ideas.
  • Solve theoretical cultural and political problems through an ability to express complex ideas with clarity and style.
  • Write for and orally communicate to cultural and political theorists by way of presentational and argumentative skills, good organizational and time management skills, a positive attitude, library, computer research, information gathering, and independent research skills.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognise the role of critique, the nature of objectivity and subjectivity in contemporary cultural politics.
  • Critically analyse the multiplicity of issues influencing cultural and political theory construction
  • Evaluate the role of self-reflexivity, discourse, interpretation, and intervention in relation to cultural and political theory.
  • Critically assess the role of concepts in cultural politics concerning a variety of theoretical arguments, definitions, critiques, material, and immaterial works
  • Acquire in depth insights into new forms of cultural and political theory, meanings, and concepts supported by advanced ability to research, evaluate, and utilise appropriate theoretical resources


The syllabus is designed to provide you with an overview of and a context for cultural and political theory in today’s contested global environment. - Contemporary theories of cultural politics - Ideology, power, and subjectivity - Contemporary cultural theory: Description? Definition? Or Explanation? - Cultural politics as a theoretical tool: Instrument? Logic? Intervention? Prediction? - The mechanisms of description, definition, prediction, and control - Cultural and political theory: Reflection? Discovery? Objective? Subjective? Truthful? Independent? - Theory construction: Reflexive? Discursive? Interpretive? - Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, poststructuralism, and postmodernism - Cultural concepts and political arguments: redefinition or critique? - Cultural politics or political culture?

Special Features

This module includes a number of special features that will enable you to achieve the learning outcomes. As part of the module, Professors/Readers from Winchester School of Art and Politics and International Relations will join regular teaching faculty to share their knowledge and experiences of the complexities and ambiguities of today’s cultural, political, and theoretical environment. This unique view from art, politics, and international relations will form an integral part of your cultural and intellectual development.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods The module is taught through a series of lectures and seminars. Teaching methods will place emphasis on theoretical and conceptual cultural and political understanding, and will include group work, guided reflection, and individual study of module materials and discussion of cultural theories, political concepts, and key ideas associated with the field such as ideology. Internationalisation This module puts great emphasis on developing an appreciation of the complexities that are inherent in cultural and political theory in an era of globalisation. The content of the module will explicitly refer to the contemporary cultural and political diversity that is exhibited both in the student cohort and in the wider contemporary cultural and political research communities. Learning activities - Seminar discussion - Peer group learning - Reflective writing - Presentations

Independent Study350
Total study time400

Resources & Reading list

Storey, J. (2012). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction. 

McKinnon, C. (ed) (2011). Issues in Political Theory. 

Smith, P. (2008). Cultural Theory: An Introduction. 

Haywood, A. (2012). Political Ideologies. 

Jordan, G. and Weedon, C. (1995). Cultural Politics: Class Gender, Race, and the Postmodern World. 

Haywood, A. (2004). Political Theory: An Introduction. 

Wolff, J. (2006). An Introduction to Political Philosophy. 

Cultural Politics. Cultural Politics. ,0 , pp. 0.

Ahmed, S. (2007). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. 

Bramall, R. (2013). The Cultural Politics of Austerity: Past and Present in Austere Times. 

Wake, P. and Malpas, S. (eds) (2013). The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Written assignment  (3000 words) 60%
Written assignment  (2000 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual assignment  (5000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual assignment  (5000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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