Cultural Theory and Cultural Forms

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Don Slater STC.S310 and Dr Jana Melkumova-Reynolds


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Culture and Society. This course is available on the MA in Modern History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Students who have this course as a core course are guaranteed a place. Other than for students for whom the course is a core course, places are allocated based on a written statement. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

Cultural Theory and Cultural Forms is the core course for the MSc Culture and Society. The aim is to introduce you to a wide range of approaches, debates and issues that loom large in the study of cultural processes. By the end of this course you should have a reasonable map of different aspects and approaches to researching cultural processes; and you should feel able to formulate your own research questions and strategies within the diverse traditions of culture theory and cultural research.

In Term 1 we introduce the diverse approaches to cultural theory and the central debates that have structured the field, with particular attention to the ways in which these link to central sociological themes. The second focuses on approaching these theoretical debates from the vantage of empirical research and a concern with methodologies for studying cultural processes.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 40 hours across MT and LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in MT Week 6 and LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to submit one piece of non-assessed written work per term and prepare seminar presentations.

Indicative reading

Ahmed, S. 2004. "Affective economies", Social text, 22: 117-139.

Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. London: Routledge.

Hall, S. (1992) `New Ethnicities' in Donald, J and Rattansi, A (eds.) (1992) “Race”, Culture, Difference, London: Routledge.

Latour, B. (2004) Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?: From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004), 225–248.

McGuigan, J. (2010) Cultural Analysis. London: Sage.

McRobbie, A. (2005) The Uses of Cultural Studies. London: Sage.

Miller, D. (2008) The comfort of things. Polity, Cambridge.

Oswell, D. (2006) Culture and Society. London: Sage.


Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the LT.
Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the ST.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day.

The first essay is due by the second Thursday of Lent Term and the second essay is due by the second Thursday of Summer Term. 

Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 16.7
Merit 59.7
Pass 19.4
Fail 4.2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2020/21: 22

Average class size 2020/21: 22

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information