MSc Social and Cultural Theory

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Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available MSc , PG Diploma (Postgraduate Diploma)
Programme length One year full-time;
two years part-time
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places Not fixed
Start date September 2016

Programme overview

This programme aims to provide an introduction to a range of debates located within the so-called cultural turn in sociological studies. Increasingly, sociologists are turning to the concept of culture as a source of explanation - and questioning - in their studies of contemporary social formations.

Both theoretical and substantive elements of this cultural turn are addressed: on the one hand, the works of key thinkers within social and cultural theory (Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault and others) are explored; on the other, the role of cultural explanations within - among others - theories of race and ethnicity, gender relations and the sociology of religion is given both theoretical and empirical consideration.

These issues are also situated within the framework of analyses and critiques of wider debates and discourses in social and cultural theory on questions such as postmodernism, postfeminism and postcolonialism.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Part time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

The MSc programme comprises six 12-week taught units and six assessed essays, followed by a dissertation.


Core units

  • Understanding Culture
  • Dissertation (MSc only)

You will choose no more than four optional Sociology units, below is an EXAMPLE of units you may choose from (Note: these change every year, the units below may not be available).

  • Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Culture, Postmodernity and Religion
  • Globalisation and Culture
  • Interpreting Gender
  • Narrating the Self
  • Philosophy of Social Science
  • Qualitative Social Research
  • Theories of Ethnicity and Racism
  • Global Ethnicities
  • Quantitative Social Research
  • Care, Labour and Gender
  • Popular Music and society
  • Theory and Politics of Multiculturalism
  • Social Class in Contemporary Society
  • Nations and Nationalism
  • Religion and Politics
  • Understanding Risk
  • Classics of Modern Cultural Theory
  • Religion Ethnicity and Value Change

One option (maximum) from the remaining SPAIS Politics optional units offered in the academic year:

  • Politics Optional Units POLIM and SPAIM.  See SPAIS website for further information. 

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification. 

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile E
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.


Bristol graduates are in high demand and have an excellent record of employment following graduation.

Graduates of our MSc programmes go on to pursue varied and interesting careers.  Many sectors such as the Civil Service, NGO and charity work require an MSc and some volunteer/internship experience. Graduates from our programmes have gone on to work for Refugee UK, Shelter, Barnardos, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Dept for Education (including SureStart), European Parliament among others.

Further details can be found on our website.

How to apply
Application deadline:

31 July 2016

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 32% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 44% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 23% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 1% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Get in touch

Senior Postgraduate Admissions Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 7577 Email:

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
University of Bristol
11 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU


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