Cultural Enquiry (MRes)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2018


Central London


Fully Approved


One year full-time or two years part-time


Three evenings a week full-time or one to two evenings a week part-time (plus occasional Saturdays), October to June

This programme in cultural enquiry offers the chance to research a diverse range of objects and themes from multidisciplinary perspectives. Working at the intersections of cultural studies, humanities and creative practice, the course asks you to consider where and how culture happens. With visits to cultural organisations, lectures from practitioners and a focus on practices of writing, curating and presentation, this MRes is ideal for students interested in taking an active role in cultural production and intellectual enquiry.

The programme is taught by academics from across the School of Arts and is designed to prepare you to undertake MPhil or PhD study in arts and humanities, including practice-led approaches to research and development of approaches to cultural production beyond academia. Helping you to broaden your research methods and interests, whilst supporting you in the development of distinctive projects, this programme aims to foster and support the practice of research and writing in order to challenge divisions between theory and practice, criticality and creativity.

The course aims to:

  • encourage multidisciplinary enquiry into, and engagement with, a diverse array of research objects
  • develop your writing and other methods of cultural enquiry that will allow you to participate critically in the development of creative practice in and beyond academia
  • develop curiosity in subjects and objects inside and outside of the traditional boundaries of arts scholarship
  • foster a critical understanding of research practice and disciplinary discourses
  • engage with the current and historic landscape of cultural practice and its institutional formations.
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  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Gain a postgraduate, multidisciplinary research degree in preparation for further independent study within cultural studies, humanities and the arts.
  • Explore themes and practices relevant to contemporary cultural production, curating and cultural programming.
  • Be part of an innovative programme of study working with creative practitioners and cultural institutions within and beyond academia.
  • Develop your own creative practices and skills as a writer and researcher.
  • Be taught by academics within their current areas of research.
  • Our School of Arts is among the top five in the UK and comprises many academics and subject areas, from English literature and history of art, to digital media, mediated geographies and practice-led research. You will have the opportunity to find out about the breadth of this research and take part in research events at our research centres in areas including film, theatre, media and creative practice, humanities, poetics, photography and digital media.
  • You will also have access to a programme of events in the School’s exhibition space (the Peltz Gallery) and cinema, as well as the opportunity to work with the Derek Jarman Lab. In addition to academic-led events there are a large number of activities, including a range of reading groups, organised by our thriving postgraduate research community.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
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