The Centre for Critical Theory facilitates masters programmes and offers research supervision across its broad range of expertise.
The University of Nottingham is one of the strongest contexts nationally in which supervisory support can be provided in the areas of critical theory and cultural studies. Centre activity includes regular conferences, workshops and reading groups.
Postgraduate degrees (MA)
Our masters courses draw on the overlapping intellectual traditions and theoretical sources of critical theory and cultural studies.
Utilising the diverse expertise of the Centre’s membership and delivered through lively seminar discussion, these innovative programmes are recognised by the major funding councils as research training for subsequent doctoral work.
Critical Theory and Cultural Studies (MA)
Critical Theory and Politics (MA)
Susie Bulling, MA in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
My previous studies have been in performance art and theatre, graduating in 2011 from De Montfort University, Leicester. During my BA, I found myself intrigued by some of the cultural and critical theories that accompanied some of my research, including structural linguistics, gender theory and ideology. This initial introduction inspired me to consider studying critical theory further, and began my part time Critical Theory & Cultural Studies MA in 2013.
At first I was intimidated by the institute and some of the thinkers briefed on the course outline, as their names and theoretical concepts were completely alien to anything I was familiar with. The texts are difficult and thought provoking, but I have also enjoyed them. A few particular favourites have been Walter Benjamin on technology, Raymond Williams’ ‘ordinary’ culture, and Camp aesthetics.
Despite some struggles, I have received some fantastic academic and pastoral support, particularly from Dr Colin Wright whose generosity is hugely appreciated!
I would recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in critical or cultural theory, and is willing to be challenged by traditional and contemporary thought. Overall I have mostly enjoyed the modules ‘Theory at Work’ and ‘Aesthetics and Politics’. My dissertation will discuss the effects of virtual and real space in art as interactive experience, drawing on the experimental internet art of The Workers’ ‘AfterDark’at the Tate Gallery, London, 2014.
Ivan Markovic, MA in Critical Theory and Politics
It was in the last two years of my undergraduate degree that I developed a keen interest in Marxism. That was a crucial moment not only in my education but also (as tawdry as it may sound) in my life, for it completely changed my weltanschauung. It provided me with a more critical outlook, which in turn enabled me to question things on a far deeper level than before. I then gradually moved on to the works of the Frankfurt School, or what Max Horkheimer – one of its key members – would term critical theory.
Critical theory is a school of thought that is located on the fringes of academia, or so I discovered whilst looking for potential graduate programmes. I then decided to take a year off in order to find something that would suit my ‘offbeat’ interests. During that year I contacted the Centre for Critical Theory in Nottingham and expressed my desire to work with them. The response was welcoming and heartening which resulted in a five-month internship in the Centre. It was during this time that I became convinced that this was the place where I wanted to continue my education, for what ‘I got myself into’ was a very active, interdisciplinary and inspiring atmosphere that further deepened my interests in the eclectic thought of critical theory.
After applying for the MA in Critical Theory and Politics, I got offered a place in the programme as well as a full school studentship, and it proved to be all I was expecting it to be. I find the staff very forthcoming and encouraging whilst providing enough freedom to pursue one’s own interests. I myself am currently working on Michel Foucault, and the biopolitics of smoking.
Abi Rhodes, MA in Critical Theory and Politics
After eight years away from academia I decided to return to the University of Nottingham to pursue an MA in Critical Theory and Politics. As a writer and Publishing Executive at the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and its publishing imprint Spokesman Books, I have been involved in reporting and researching political issues and wanted to expand on my existing knowledge. Over the last few years I have written several reviews and articles for The Spokesman, Review 31 and WorkingJournalUSA on issues as diverse as the Occupy Movement, the 2010 general election, the 2011 riots in London (in relation to Bauman’s notion of Collateral Damage) and the anti-ballistic missile defence system from a Russian perspective.
I chose to study at the University of Nottingham because I know from previous experience what a stimulating and supportive environment is offered by the Centre for Critical Theory and that it would be an ideal place to realise my ambitions. By studying Critical Theory and Politics, I will benefit from the focused academic training offered by the University of Nottingham in applying theoretically-informed critique to the contemporary problems we currently face.
In my dissertation I want to address how social movements, such as Occupy, have disseminated the message that today’s political and economic systems are in need of revision. I want to explore what the movements are saying and the mediums that are being utilised in order to convey their ideas. A major current research theme within the Centre for Critical Theory is technology and resistance, which will provide the ideal environment to develop my dissertation. The grounding in political theory and political philosophy that this MA has provided so far is enabling me to develop the tools that will be essential for me to undertake a future doctoral position.
Research degrees (PhD / MRes)
Supervision is offered across the breadth of the Centre's research expertise.
Students enrolling on a research degree will benefit from Nottingham's Graduate School programme and facilities, as well as from participation in a vibrant intellectual community in which to formulate and execute cutting-edge research projects spanning diverse topics.
We have an excellent track record of producing PhD students who win travel prizes to attend international conferences, or grants to organise conferences, and publish in prestigious journals in the fields of critical theory and cultural studies, such as New Formations, Textual Practice, Paragraph, The Journal of International Women’s Studies and The Journal of Postcolonial Writing.
Critical Theory and Cultural Studies (PhD)
Cultural Studies (Masters by Research)
Critical Theory (Masters by Research)
My PhD research focuses around four interrelated themes: the political imaginary, the philosophical question of ‘the subject’, ‘technologies’ of resistance and the politics of visuality. Drawing on Critical Theory, Continental Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Sociology, Art Theory (particularly Institutional Critique) and case studies distilled from political and cultural practice, my PhD thesis will bring together disparate scholarship concerning the concepts of ‘anonymity’, ‘opacity’, ‘disappearance’ and the human perceived as ‘glitch’, advancing an in-depth account of a particular form of resistance operating through the cultivation of an aesthetic of anonymity. Conceived to further develop new and recent discussions of contemporary subjectivity, and expand upon new theoretical and practical developments regarding resistance to late capitalism, my research seeks to conceptually develop novel expressions of the political and cultural imaginary in the digital age.
Having completed the MA in Critical Theory in 2013, I quickly realised that I wanted to pursue doctoral research. I worked closely with my now supervisors - Dr Andrew Goffey and Dr Colin Wright - to develop a research project that would both incorporate my diverse interdisciplinary interests, and tarry well with their areas of expertise. The freedom to design and pursue my research interests and the support I have received from both staff and the postgraduate community in the Centre for Critical Theory is second to none. The Centre fosters a challenging and supportive intellectual environment with numerous opportunities for intellectual and social engagement: visiting speakers, workshops, conferences and symposiums, and the annual Vital Theory event to name but a few. For me, it is the ideal environment within which to pursue research, and the only thing I regret is not starting sooner.
I joined the Centre for Critical Theory as a master’s student in 2011. I had already been to visit the Department and was impressed by the range of student activities on offer. In my master’s year, I joined reading groups which complemented the material covered in seminars, and enhanced my understanding of the field. I was even able to set up a new reading group with fellow students, to look into the work of contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou. It was this strong community atmosphere which convinced me to stay in the Centre to undertake doctoral research.
In addition to the world-class supervision and excellent resources, the Centre offers an unparalleled opportunity to mix with many of the leading researchers in the field. Through the visiting lecture series and special research events, we are able to get an insight into the cutting edge of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. Links with local institutions like Nottingham Contemporary mean that the Centre is well-connected to the city, and that its activities have a reach well beyond campus. The Centre is also very supportive of student-led projects. Every year we organise the Vital Theory conference, which provides doctoral and master’s students with an opportunity to showcase their work and gain experience in putting on an academic event. I have also been supported by the Centre to set up a new research network, the Critical Autism Forum, which brings together researchers and practitioners in my field from across the UK. Choosing to study with the Centre for Critical Theory has really allowed me to get the most out of my MA and PhD experiences.
Recent PhD topics
The Bureaucratization of Dissent: How Anti-Terror Laws Impact on Political Activism
Badiou and the Problem of Freedom
Articulating Animal Rights: Activism, Networks and Anthropocentrism
The Tropes of Schizophrenia and Paranoia in 20th Century American Political and Popular Culture
Colonial Textuality: The Other in Post 9/11 Docufiction
Why Darwinism Isn’t a Science
Peace Politics in Israel-Palestine
British War Memory as Discourse: The Interrelation of Nationalism and Biopolitics
A Feminist Foucaultian Approach to Representations of Male Rape
Fictions of the Not Yet: Time in the 21st Century British Novel
Edward Said As Public Intellectual
The Centre has a strong track record in assisting strong students to produce successful AHRC funding applications, and the University of Nottingham is the lead institution in the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, a collaboration of eight partner institutions across the midlands.
There is extensive support for postgraduate students both at a School level and across the University.
The Faculty of Arts is part of a world-class research university