MA Postcolonial Culture & Global Policy

Goldsmiths, University of London
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Course overview

Conceived in the context of world-systemic transformation, this MA will give you the analytical tools to understand contemporary developments and world(s) through an encounter with post-colonial theory and international political economic issues.

We're witnessing today a tectonic shift in global geopolitics. The emergence of China, Brazil and India as global players, the development of global governance, the financial crisis, climate change – are all symptoms.

On this Masters you’ll grasp concepts like race, diaspora, hybridity, difference, grassroots development, HDI, multitude, immanence, and human rights.

These concepts are used to analyse practical, policy and activist issues arising from globalisation: global civil society, the role of international organisations (the IMF, WTO, UN and World Bank and global NGOs), intellectual property rights, social capital, financialisation, global governance and deep democracy.

You'll deal with issues like terrorism, microfinance, indigenous people, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism and environmental justice.

The MA is ideal for anyone pursuing careers in policy research, NGOs, advocacy, charities, international organisations, cultural and political activism, global media, art and curating, as well as for further academic work leading to a PhD.

Practical placement

The Masters includes a supervised and assessed practical placement. This may be with NGOs in India or Africa, arts and conservation organisations in China, indigenous activists in Latin America, London-based global NGOs, diasporic communities, think-tanks, environmental organisations, publishers or financial/microfinance organisations.

Leading theorists and visiting lecturers

You'll be taught by leading theorists and visiting lecturers drawn from a wide circle of activists, artists, film-makers, lawyers, economists, journalists and policy-makers.

Contact the department

What you'll study

30 credits

From Ferguson to Gaza, from the local to the global, this module proposes that we are faced with the necessity to revisit the canonical texts of postcolonial theory in order to make sense of our contemporary world. The aim of the module is to introduce you to a selection of these founding texts, and to consider the manner in which the spectre of colonialism persists in our present, both in our material reality and as a ‘spectropoetics’ that haunts the unconscious.

In this sense, you will read classic postcolonial texts of the twentieth century together with contemporary academic, activist and artistic interventions and countersignatures. Close, first-hand reading of texts is emphasised and you are required to probe the whole spectrum of postcolonial thinking—from literary theory, politics, psychoanalysis, diaspora studies, race and gender studies to philosophy, art, anthropology and history—and as such interrogate the production and circulation of knowledge from diverse positionalities. We seek to problematize the very notion of post-coloniality, understood not as a temporal marker but more as a style of thought—as a problem, a question and an option, an ‘epistemic and political project’.

We begin the module from the present, with a questioning of the links and divergences between postcolonial theory and current decolonial thinking (in particular where this concerns struggles across today’s global south), in order to invest our readings of canonical postcolonial texts with a sense of urgency and to set out a disciplinary framework.

Weekly topics are organised conceptually and across geographical and temporal boundaries through the themes such as the following, each of which re-inflects the next: objectivity; recognition; representation; ecology; relation; translation; ambivalence, appropriation; repair and reconciliation.


30 credits

This module aims to provide students with the theoretical tools necessary for understanding postcolonial transformations in today’s Global South. The political imperative behind Postcolonial Studies – which emerged as an academic discipline in the 1980s – was metropolitan multiculturalism. Multiculturalism emerged as a key agenda of progressive politics – responding largely to mobilizations around race, diaspora and the politics of gender. Grounded in certain notions of representation, discourse and text, it enabled the theorist to mount an attack on the ethico-political enterprise of post-Enlightenment humanism on behalf of those who were excluded from its universalist schema. The module seeks to familiarise students with both analytical tools and activist models developed over the last few decades to comprehend, analyse and intervene in these transformations.

Media, both old and new, are fast changing not just the way we perceive the world but also the way we experience our being-in-world and our interventions into the world. In view of this, elements of the module are concerned with studying the cultural aspects of globalization, including ‘the politics of aesthetics’, ‘sensible politics’ and the visual cultures of non-governmental activism. Globalization has also seen to a remapping of cultural and artistic fields, and the emergence of new cultural and commodity imaginaries. The globalization of art has resulted in the culture of spectacular biennales and new practices of curating. Museums and collections have become major tools for educating and disciplining populations.

Drawing from the tools provided during the ‘Postcolonial Theory’ module, and supplementing these with the ‘thinking and doing’ that has arisen from the ‘decolonial turn’, the module approaches many of the weekly topics through the framework of ‘decoloniality’ and what Boaventura de Sousa Santos et al have named ‘epistemologies of the South’. In addition to this, a key component of the module is the new socio-political theory developed after the end of the Cold War, which aims to understand the decline of the nation-state and the enhanced power of supranational institutions such as the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. This requires a critical examination of a range of agendas, namely: Global Civil Society and Governance, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organisations, Sovereignty, New Social Movements, (Intellectual) Property Rights, Environmentalism, Biopiracy, the Commons, Social Capital, etc. The module seeks to ground these concepts in political/cultural theory rather than treating them as ad-hoc ideas. Students are encouraged to draw from the critical theory tradition of cultural theory and to question the normative claims of liberal theory in the age of neoliberal globalization.

30 credits
30 creditsThe Policy Lab is understood to be a discussion and research forum for issues of global policy and development, with a view to identifying a set of aims and objectives, as well as concerns, issues and practical organisational needs, relevant to the placements (discussed below). Lab work provides the essential preparation and context for the placements and dossier projects, which evaluate the placements. A concern with policy and practice within organisations, seen from the perspective of postcolonial studies and geopolitics, is a core part of the module throughout the year. The Policy Lab entails a two-hour session one day each week in the Autumn and Spring terms, led by a dedicated Policy Lab tutor. Comprised of lectures and seminars, as well as presentations by guest speakers from within the broader field, these sessions allow for group discussion of conceptual, bureaucratic, political and economic issues arising from the placements. Further to this, the tutor will be available on a weekly basis for individual tutorials, and for instruction and support in relation to organisational matters for placements.   UK-based or overseas placements would usually be undertaken at the end of Spring term and would be with an organisation or group relevant to the concerns of the programme as a whole. The placement would prepare you for your dissertation work.  The placement is not focused on the delivery of training per se, but on placing you in the context of work within NGOs, advocacy and activist groups, charities, national or international policy-making and developmental organisations, and groups with cultural activist and/or anti-racist/anti-imperialist concerns. You will be encouraged to bring postcolonial theory, geopolitics and a critical perspective on culture to bear upon your experience working with such organisations and in varied contexts. If you are already engaged in relevant institutional, organisational or activist based work in some way you will be able to use the opportunity of a placement to critically reflect upon and analyse your projects, organization and working context.  
  • The Windrush Foundation 
60 credits

The dissertation is an opportunity to write an extended piece of work (10,000-12,000 words) on a topic of particular interest under the guidance of an allocated supervisor within the Centre for Cultural Studies.

60 credits

Option modules

You take option modules to the value of 30 credits. Modules can be chosen from across Goldsmiths departments and centres. Option modules are subject to availability and approval by the module lecturer/convenor.

Other option modules, by department

You may prefer to look through the full range of option modules available across Goldsmiths departments.


Essays and/or practical projects; dissertation.

Download the programme specification. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at upper least second class standard in a relevant/related subject. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

International qualifications

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

  • Home - full-time: £8040
  • International - full-time: £15500

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time if you require a Tier 4 student visa, however this is currently being reviewed and will be confirmed in the new year. Please read our visa guidance in the interim for more information. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

How to apply

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement â€“ this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

Applicants are encouraged to submit by 31 May, though applications after this date may still be considered to start the following September.

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.


The programme provides advanced training for labour market-relevant skills in transnational analysis of sovereignty, democracy, governmentality, financialisation, intellectual property rights, and the role of non-governmental organisations.


  • the academic sphere

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Posted on:

Application Deadline:



Phd programs

United Kingdom