Postgraduate study
Draw on expertise in areas such as literary theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies and political theory.
MA Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,290 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
University Park



This is a truly interdisciplinary course that will give you a comprehensive introduction to the critical tradition that shapes today’s human and social sciences, as well as the opportunity to apply theories to contemporary cultural phenomena.

Approaches to issues of representation, identity, power, meaning and ideology thus include, but also extend beyond, the established British Cultural Studies paradigm.

The course builds on the scholarly relation between the theoretical and applied or practical aspects of research in the humanities, thereby preparing you for theoretically informed research in disciplines beyond cultural studies.

You will be able to draw on the expertise of the teaching team in areas such as literary theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies and political theory.

This course will certainly appeal to you if you are a cultural studies or Humanities graduate with an interest in further studies that emphasise theoretical approaches while maintaining a focus on their application to cultural events and practices.

Key facts

  • The Centre for Critical Theory is a vibrant and active focus for staff and student research activity both in the university and the broader community, and works very closely with Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery.
  • The department also benefits from the input and close collaboration of other centres and institutes such as the Centre for Research in Visual Culture and the Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies, as well as staff from the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences.
  • The department is strongly international and offers excellent opportunities for staff, postgraduate students and undergraduate students to benefit from its wide range of international collaborative arrangements.
  • The School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies provides the perfect environment to learn to apply Cultural Studies approaches to diverse social, cultural and political ‘texts’ and to situate the discipline in the critical tradition upon which it continues to draw.

Full course details

This innovative course combines the department’s expertise in the key critical theoretical discourses in the humanities with its interests in concrete cultural practices.

The modules on this degree programme are all core modules.

You will be assigned both a personal tutor and dissertation tutor to guide you through your coursework.

You may follow the MA Critical Theory and Cultural Studies over one year, full-time (October to September) or part-time over two to three years.

If you decide to study as a full-time student, you will be expected to take two core modules in your first semester and two optional modules in your second semester, plus a dissertation over the summer period.

You do have the option to study the course over 24 or 36 months as a part-time student, depending on your individual circumstances.

The teaching on this course is largely seminar-based, which will allow you to actively engage with thinkers as diverse as Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou, Donna Haraway and Peter Sloterdijk. This is supported by lectures providing the philosophical background to such theorists’ work. 

You will be encouraged to develop the scholarly tools required for doctoral research through a 3,500 - 5,000 word written assignment for each module you complete.

The dissertation module is assessed by a written work of 12,000 - 15,000 words – this is usually submitted in early September.



Core modules: 
  • Tradition of Critique 1 

  • Critical and Cultural Theory Today 

  • Aesthetics and Politics 

  • Theory at Work: Problematizing the Present 

  • CLAS Dissertation  

Optional modules:  


  • Technology and the Transformations of Communication 


  • Tradition of Critique 2 

For more details on our modules, please see the Module Catalogue.

Professional Development modules

All students will take one of the following two modules:

Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

This module builds on the research skills that students will have already developed during their undergraduate degrees and on discipline-specific MA modules. The emphasis in this module is both on ensuring students are possessed of a whole range of practical ways to approach research, and on making students think about the nature of their discipline-specific approaches within a context of growing interdisciplinarity. Students will have the chance to consider topics as varied as academic publishing, digital transformations, and the use of illustrations in dissertations. They will also have the opportunity to hear academics from across the Faculty talk about the problems they have confronted and how they overcame them. The module's primary goal is to engender both confidence in dealing with original research, and a recognition of the huge range of approaches that can be used to address research questions.

Arts in Society

The aim of the module is to prepare students for applying their arts MA across society to enhance their careers and to contribute to wider society. It will demonstrate how the arts can be used to transform society, politics and culture but also to enhance the careers of arts and humanities MA students. Students will be able to explore, explain and then detail how their disciplinary skills can impact upon wider issues to emphasise the applicability of the arts and humanities. From the role of the scholar activist to understanding ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘public engagement’, the module will support the development of professional skills in preparation for careers within academia or across a range of employment sectors. Students will harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate. As such, students will be able to work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange. Students will also learn how to engage, communicate and create. 


The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

If you choose to study with us, there are various sources of funding to which you can apply. Some are administered by the school, others by research bodies to which the school has links, and others by the University and central government sources. These opportunities are often specific to particular degree programmes, or to the fee-status of a student, so it is important to read all related information very carefully.

More information about funding can be found on the following web pages.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies funding pages

University of Nottingham Graduate School funding pages

University of Nottingham International Office funding pages


Careers and professional development

Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the School.

Conducting postgraduate work fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

This course is particularly relevant if you are interested in pursuing an academic career or wish to progress to a PhD.

A postgraduate degree from an institution like The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

In 2016, 96.6% of postgraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £25,314 with the highest being £35,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. Our Careers  and  Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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