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Three students on a spiral staircase are wearing blue hard-hats and taking photos of their surroundings, which is the internal of a building that looks to be in disrepair Image courtesy of Remo Pedreschi

Cultural Studies - MSc by Research

MSc Research


1 year (Full time); 2 years (Part time)
Full-time; Part-time


This programme offers advanced study and supervised individual research in a broad range of topics, including 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.  

Over the course of the programme, you will gain critical, analytical, interpretative and representational skills that are transferable to a range of 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.  

As a research programme, support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) and beyond.  

Students are admitted based on their research proposals and academic portfolios.  

What you will study

In the first semester, students are normally required to take two 20-credit courses pertinent to their research topic, as recommended by their supervisor. In the second semester, they begin working on their dissertation project. If the research project requires a different pacing of coursework, for example to allow fieldwork in Semester 1, the second course can be taken in Semester 2.     

The mode of learning ranges from seminars in Semester One to critical reviews and work-in-progress presentations, colloquia and curatorial projects in Semester Two. The final project is an illustrated dissertation of approximately 20,000 words.   

Throughout the programme, your learning will be supported by guest seminars and critical reviews, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, field trips and events. You'll also be directed towards public lectures, seminars, conferences and events hosted by the University of Edinburgh and other cultural institutions within the city.  

Students on the programme also have the opportunity to participate in the Cultural Research Summer School organised in July in collaboration with Humboldt University Berlin.  

Why you should choose this programme


Research supervision is available in a broad range of topics drawing on expertise from across the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and beyond.


Our approach is research-led and exploratory, combining seminars with studio-style learning, critical reviews, curatorial projects, workshops and field trips.


We encourage experimentation, creativity and collaboration, including engagement with a range of non-academic audiences.


Our week-long Cultural Research Summer School in Berlin facilitates exchanges of research methodologies, modes of documentation, writing and presentation.


Students are encouraged to actively contribute to research culture and cultural criticism and seek ways of transforming their academic work into publications.

How to apply and entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about study modes, start dates and fees
  • find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Preparing your application

Common to all research programmes are a set of research aims, a research context, a research process and a research product/outcome. The research proposal should include reference to all of these elements. All applicants for postgraduate research programmes must submit a research proposal.

Portfolios or writing samples are also required for some research degrees.

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 651 5740

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