MSc Social and Cultural Theory

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Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available MSc
Programme length One year full-time;
two years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Number of places 18
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

This programme provides an introduction to a range of debates located within the so-called 'cultural turn' in sociological studies. Increasingly, sociologists are looking 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. Therefore, the works of key thinkers within social and cultural theory (Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault and others) are explored, while the role of cultural explanations within theories of race and ethnicity, gender relations and the sociology of religion (among others) is also given both theoretical and empirical consideration.

These issues are 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 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2017/18

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

Optional units

You may choose four optional sociology units. Options vary each year but may include:

  • Contemporary Sociological Theory
  • Theories of Ethnicity and Racism
  • Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods
  • Philosophy and Research Design
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • Understanding Culture
  • Narrating the Self
  • The Theory and Politics of Multiculturalism
  • Interpreting Gender
  • Advanced Qualitative Research
  • Advanced Quantitative Research
  • Popular Music and Society
  • Nations and Nationalism
  • Care, Labour and Gender
  • Religion and Politics in the West
  • Understanding Risk

A maximum of one unit may be chosen from the other optional units that are offered by the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies in the academic year.

Third term

Independent study for dissertation.

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, NGOs 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, government departments and the European Parliament, among others. Further details can be found on our careers and alumni website.

How to apply
Application deadline:

31 July 2017

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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