Cultural Studies - MSc by Research


Research supervision is available in a broad range of topics in visual culture, photography and visual essay, text and image, urban art and graffiti, place identity, place memory and representation, cultural translation, curatorial practices and exhibition design.

What you will study

The programme offers advanced study and supervised individual research towards a one year Masters degree. Students are admitted based on their research proposals and academic portfolios. In the first semester they are required to take two 20-credit courses pertinent to their research topic as recommended by their supervisor. In semester 2 they begin working on their dissertation project. The mode of learning ranges from seminars in Semester 1 to critical reviews and work-in-progress presentations, colloquia and curatorial projects in Semester 2. The final project is an illustrated dissertation of approximately 20,000 words.  

You will gain critical, analytical, interpretative and representational skills that are transferable to both academic and other professional settings. You will learn to critically engage with current cultural debates that frame the understanding of visual and spatial practices, design and everyday cultures, and the relationships between text and image, place and representation. Throughout the programme, your learning is supported by guest seminars and critical reviews, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, field trips and events. Students are also directed towards public lectures, seminars, conferences, events hosted by the University and other cultural institutions within the city. Students  on the programme also have an opportunity to participate in Cultural Research Summer School  organised in July in collaboration with Humboldt University Berlin.

Top five reasons to choose the programme

  • Distinctive focus on the city and visuality, visual knowledges and critical attention to modalities and strategies of representation and display. Taking an interdisciplinary approach we look at contemporary visual and spatial phenomena and forms of cultural production and critique. Areas of particular interest include urban photography, graffiti and street art, curating and exhibition design, new forms of visual, spatial and textual practices, critical approaches to image and writing.
  • Innovative learning context of theoretically grounded courses in which the traditional seminar format is challenged by interdisciplinary studio-style learning and critical reviews. Our approach to teaching and learning is research-led and exploratory.
  • Curatorial projects and experimentation with forms of critical writing and modes of presentation of research. We encourage experimentation with graphic and visual essay, curatorial strategies, creative and collaborative approaches to research. We support exhibition projects and innovative events that involve non-academic participants and audiences.
  • Our week-long Cultural Research Summer School in Berlin facilitates exchanges and explorations of research methodologies, modes of documentation, writing and presentation of research material.
  • Publishing is for us both a subject of critique and a mode of research dissemination. Students are encouraged to actively contribute to research culture and cultural criticism and seek ways of transforming their academic work into publications: collaborative book-projects, articles in academic and professional journals, exhibition reviews and magazine articles, online journals and blogs.


Dr Ella Chmielewska, Programme Director | View staff profile >

This is a research programme. Support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in this School.

View the full staff list for Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture >


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