Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity (MA)

This interdisciplinary programme stretches across the social sciences and arts and humanities and explores: 

  • debates on 'race' and racism, multiculture and postcoloniality; empire and the formation of modern Britain and contemporary transnational political communities, social identities and urban cultures
  • the connections between histories of colonisation and contemporary social formations and inequalities in the UK
  • how local debates on 'race' and racism are shaped by the global geopolitics of the twenty-first century.

The programme explores connections between interlocking colonial histories across the globe and our ordinary, local, everyday life here in contemporary Britain. It focuses on a broad range of subjects such as histories of colonisation, systems of slavery, the concept of 'race' and the invention of 'the West'; colonial cultures, nationalisms, 'respectability' and the invention of 'whiteness'; racial theory and histories of criminalisation; histories of anti-racist and anti-fascist resistance; postcoloniality; theorising culture, community, hybridity and creolisation; postcolonial belonging, place, urban cultures and diaspora; 'race' and 'beauty'; contemporary racial nationalisms, religious revivalisms and 'the war on terror'; 'whiteness' and 'race', gender, sexuality and desire.

Highlights

  • This interdisciplinary postgraduate programme is designed for students from all backgrounds to pursue their own particular interests. It draws from postcolonial sociology and anthropology, history, cultural, urban, literary studies and psychosocial studies, philosophy and law and introduces you to different historical and political debates and theoretical perspectives in the broad multidisciplinary area of 'race' and racism, multiculture and postcoloniality.
  • Through our formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil, you can undertake an option module at the University of São Paulo as part of your programme of study at Birkbeck.
  • You will become part of a vibrant, stimulating and diverse intellectual environment, with access to our Race Forum, research centres including the Birkbeck Institute for the HumanitiesBirkbeck Law School Centre for Law and the Humanities and the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice, and reading groups such as the Postcolonial Studies Reading Group.
  • Birkbeck Library has an extensive teaching collection of books, journals and learning resources in sociology, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, psychosocial studies and related disciplines. You will also be able to use the rich research resources nearby including Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (the LSE Library), the SOAS Library and the British Library. 
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.

Course structure

The programme combines taught core and special subject option modules and provides the opportunity for independent research supervised by an academic. The core modules introduce you to significant historical and political debates and theoretical perspectives. The option modules focus on a specific area such as human rights, Lacanian psychoanalysis, migration and refugees, or Latin American cinema.

You complete 180 credits, composed of two 30-credit core modules, two 30-credit special subject option modules and a 60-credit dissertation/independent research project.

You can choose from a broad range of special subject option modules convened by academics in departments across the College.

Full-time students

You take the core module 'Race', Racism, Postcoloniality, an option module and a Research Methods module to support you in choosing, developing and undertaking a piece of independent research (qualitative empirical or theoretical) in the autumn term.

You then take the core module Culture, Community, Identity and a second option module in the spring term and attend a series of dissertation workshops in the summer term.

Part-time students

In Year 1, you take the core module 'Race', Racism, Postcoloniality in the autumn term. Option modules can be taken in the autumn, spring or summer terms.

In Year 2, you take a Research Methods module in the autumn term to support you in choosing, developing and undertaking a piece of independent research (qualitative empirical or theoretical).

A second option can be taken in the autumn, spring or summer terms. The core module Culture, Community, Identity is held in the spring term and you will attend a series of dissertation workshops in the summer term. The dissertation is submitted at the beginning of September at the end of the second academic year.

Module groups

Option modules vary every year; the list below is indicative.

Read more about this programme in our handbook.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Good degree in social sciences or humanities.

    Recent professional qualifications, relevant work/practical experience, or a lively interest in the subject area will also be considered.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £4175 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8350 pa
    Part-time international students: £7600 pa
    Full-time international students: £15200 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    A range of teaching and learning methods, such as lectures, seminars, student presentations and supervisions.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    One 4000-word essay per core module and a 10,000-12,000-word dissertation. Assessment for option modules may vary.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates include youth and community workers and workers for organisations and charities who are concerned with criminalisation and policing, domestic violence, refugees and asylum, human rights, homelessness, imprisonment and addiction. They also include barristers and solicitors, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, lecturers and social researchers in the areas of sociology, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies and social policy, teachers, film-makers, activists, curators, architects, novelists, poets, musicians, journalists and those working in the arts and cultural industries.

    There are currently several graduates undertaking doctoral research in this subject area.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this programme using the online application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    There is no closing date but we encourage you to apply as early as possible.