The University of Southampton
Winchester School of ArtPostgraduate study

MA Cultural Politics (1 year)


Study the interaction between culture and politics on this unique masters degree. You will graduate with exceptional critical skills and a keen understanding of social, cultural, economic and political phenomena that will be sought after by arts, culture, government and policy organisations.

Introducing your course

At a time of unprecedented political change, the study of cultural politics has never been more relevant. The only UK masters degree of its kind, this interdisciplinary course offers a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which culture and politics affect each other and give rise to social, political and economic realities. You will learn about key theories and ideologies and gain new perspectives on current issues, such as identity, security and surveillance, multiculturalism, ethics and populism. The course is taught by world-renowned academics from two highly ranked University of Southampton schools – Winchester School of Art and Politics and International Relations. In addition, external speakers from arts, cultural, policy and political organisations will bring their insights to the course and help you to build networks for the future. You will graduate with in-depth knowledge, finely tuned intellectual and critical skills and a fresh approach to current issues forged by cross-disciplinary study. These skills and qualities will be sought after in a range of sectors where cultural politics has emerged as an area of critical importance, such as arts and culture, local and central government, politics and campaigning, and the media.

Protest Crowd, Rio de Janeiro (2013), Joy Gerrard and Adrian O’Carroll


Cultural politics investigates the ways in which culture—including people’s attitudes, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, as well as the media and arts—shapes society and political opinion, and gives rise to social, political and economic realities.

The MA Cultural Politics will be of interest to intellectually curious students from a broad range of arts and humanities, political and social sciences disciplines, as well as artists and professionals in the cultural, political, policy and media sectors.

Programme Structure

This is a full-time, one-year course. You will take taught modules over two semesters, followed by independent study for your dissertation in semester three. 

Semester one provides a grounding in the key methods and concepts that will form the foundation for your studies. In semester one, the Methods of Cultural Inquiry module will introduce you to the main techniques and disciplines through which you will investigate social, political and cultural themes during the year

You will also study the core ideas that underpin concepts of ideology, power and subjectivity in cultural politics, in a module called Cultural Politics: Theory. This covers the work of influential scholars such as Marx and Habermas, and explores ideologies and theories such as feminism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, poststructuralism and postmodernism. 

In semester two, you will take Cultural Politics: Practices, in which you will apply your learning through a series of case studies. These cover topics that span art, culture, politics and collectivity, investigating contemporary phenomena such as the evolution and cultural significance of carnival, the politicisation of performance art, the symbolism of ‘V for Vendetta’ masks and the influence of mass political demonstrations.

Personalised learning

Semester two offers the opportunity to shape the course to your interests by choosing one art module and one politics module from a range of options. These examine the overlap between culture and politics in areas of the arts such as responsible design, visual culture and digital cultures. Politics modules cover topic such as contemporary security challenges, public policy and democracy, the ethics and politics of migration and international political theory.

The dissertation is another way to follow your interests, as you will be able to select a topic for in-depth study. This could be something you have touched on during the course, such as identity, copyright or political communication, or another relevant topic that you have come across in your own reading. You will be allocated an academic supervisor who will support you during the process of firming up your dissertation proposal and conducting your research.

Industry links

Our academics use their extensive links with cultural, arts, third sector and political organisations to bring external perspectives to the course. Guest lecturers will share their expertise on a range of topics. As well as giving you invaluable insights into industry issues, exposure to external practitioners will enable you to consider different career paths and develop your networks.

Research-active academics

You will benefit from the specialist knowledge of internationally recognised academics from two highly ranked University of Southampton departments – Winchester School of Art, and Politics and International Relations. As you’d expect of a Russell Group university degree, the course is informed by research conducted in both disciplines.

Our academics have a wide-reaching influence in the field – for example, Professor John Armitage and Professor Ryan Bishop are co-editors of the prestigious Cultural Politics journal published by the Ivy League Duke University Press.

Other lecturers and tutors on the course include:

Programme leader Dr Valentina Cardo, whose research addresses media and politics, particularly the role that media and communication play in contemporary democratic processes and institutions. She has written numerous papers on the intersection between politics, popular culture and gender, and is interested in questions of power, identity and difference, the changing relationship between the media and modes of political and civic agency, and the impact of digital technologies on traditional communication strategies.

Professor Jussi Parikka, a media theorist and writer who has published widely on media archaeology, digital culture and technical media, including the book A Geology of Media (2015), which was selected as ‘an outstanding academic title for 2015’ by Choice, the leading academic library publication. His current projects focus on contemporary media theory, as well as the genealogy and current uses of ‘laboratories’ in (digital) humanities, design and media.

Professor David Owen, who is renowned for his research and publication in areas including Nietzsche and post-Kantian critical theory, encompassing post-structuralism and the Frankfurt School; problems of political community, addressing issues of multiculturalism and migration; and democratic theory. His current research projects address the structure of agonist political theory and its relationship to perfectionism and realism, and the ethics and politics of migration and transnational citizenship.

Professor Gerry Stoker, a leading specialist in issues of governance, democratic politics, local and regional governance, urban politics, public participation and public service reform. His most recent book, Why Politics Matters, won the 2006 political book of the year award from the Political Studies Association of the UK. He has advised various UK government departments and is also an expert adviser to the Council of Europe on local government and participation issues.

Key Facts

The only UK masters degree dedicated solely to cultural politics.

Gain new perspectives on a broad range of contemporary topics, from identity and multiculturalism to surveillance and social media.

Benefit from the expertise of leading academics from Winchester School of Art and Politics and International Relations, two highly ranked University of Southampton disciplines.

The teaching team includes the authors of leading texts on media archaeology and public participation in democracy, as well as the founders of the influential journal Cultural Politics.

You will also learn from high-profile external speakers from arts, cultural, political and policy making organisations.

A choice of art and politics optional modules enables you to shape the course to your interests.

Opens up career possibilities in a wide range of sectors, including media, communications, culture, politics, trade unions and the public sector.

Cultural Politics Journal

Cultural Politics journal

John Armitage and Ryan Bishop (alongside Douglas Kellner) are co-editors of the international, refereed journal and book series ‘Cultural Politics’

Find out more
Painting by Joy Gerrard and Adrian O’Carroll
Protest Crowd, Rio de Janeiro (2013), Joy Gerrard and Adrian O’Carroll
Painting, Beacon, Joy Garnett (2014), oil on canvas
Beacon, Joy Garnett (2014), oil on canvas

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

The selection process for the MA Cultural Politics is based on students having a good honours degree in a relevant art, humanities or social sciences subject (2.1 or above).

English Language Requirements

International and EU students applying for the MA Cultural Politics are required to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in reading and writing and a minimum of 5.5 in speaking and listening or equivalent, prior to starting the programme. For a full list of English language tests accepted please see here.

Mature applicants

Mature students without formal qualifications will be considered on an individual basis depending on their previous experience and background in the subject of cultural politics.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

If you have professional experience, or credit through prior learning at another institution, you may be eligible to use this experience against some of the programme requirements for period of study. You will need to present evidence that you have met the learning outcomes of the programme. The University’s Recognition of Prior Learning Policy can be accessed here.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The MA in Cultural Politics is studied over one year, full-time, and comprises a mix of core and option modules.

Please note: option modules are subject to change and will be confirmed in April 2017.

Year 1

The two core taught modules in Semester 1, Cultural Politics: Theories (20 ECTS/40CATS) and Methods of Cultural Inquiry (10 ECTS/20 CATS), provide the conceptual underpinnings, critical research perspectives and empirical examples in relation to understanding cultural, political, and methodological relationships.

In Semester 2, you will study three taught modules: one 10 ECTS/20 CATS core module, Cultural Politics: Practices and two option modules from a range offered by WSA and Politics and International Relations. The options are subject to change from year to year. You will receive guidance from the Programme Leader in making your option module selection. To ensure equity of experience across the programme and a comprehensive approach to content, you will be guided to select one option from Art and one option from Politics.

The independent dissertation is a core module (15,000 words), and is undertaken during the summer on successful completion of Semester 2 modules and is worth 30 ECTS/60 CATS.

Semester One
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Semester Two
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

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.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationary items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks etc. Any specialist stationary items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and copyingIn most cases, written coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations are submitted online and by hard copy. The costs of printing a hard copy for submission of such coursework will be the responsibility of the student. The cost of photocopying will also be the responsibility of the student.
OtherSome modules may include optional visits to museums, galleries etc. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.
TravelThe Student's Union provide a free mini bus service which runs every two hours between the Winchester campus and the Highfield campus. Students are responsible for all other daily travel expenses.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. 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

Career Opportunities

The study of two related but very different disciplines produces graduates with a competitive edge: they are critically aware and intellectually disciplined but also socially and economically savvy, with a broad understanding of the implications of social, cultural and political phenomena. 

Potential career destinations include roles in the arts and policy worlds, cultural organisations, government, the voluntary sector, trade unions, political or campaigning organisations or journalism and other media industries. This degree is also an excellent foundation for PhD research.

Learning & Assessment

Study locations

Winchester campus

Winchester campus

Winchester School of Art is set in pleasant, green surroundings close ...Find out more

Hartley Library

Highfield campus

Social Sciences is based on the main campus of the University in the M...Find out more

You may also be interested in

Share this course Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.