find your perfect postgrad program
Search our Database of 30,000 Courses

Birkbeck, University of London: Critical Theory

Institution Birkbeck, University of London
Department School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


This MA Critical Theory gives you the opportunity to explore the provocations of various waves of critical theory in relation to culture. You will examine a multitude of critical theoretical approaches - with an emphasis on the contributions of the German critical tradition from Kant through Marx to the Frankfurt School, and all those thinkers following in its wake. You will also consider the crossings of politics and aesthetics and theory’s acknowledgement of, and resistance to, social injustice.

Culture is understood here in its broadest sense, and you will explore it in relation to contestations around topics such as:

  • science and technology

  • materialism

  • ecological crisis

  • migrancy

  • global and planetary forms

  • sexuality

  • gender.

You will consider how the insights and analyses of twentieth- and twenty-first-century critique relate to numerous forms, including literature, print culture, painting, film, photography, music and digital formats such as touchscreens, gaming or virtual environments. You will gain confidence in your ability to use constructive, explorative dialogue and debate to seek answers to complex questions.

This MA Critical Theory offers you a selection of option modules which allow you to focus more specifically on such questions raised within the compulsory modules. These option modules also give you the chance to think across a wide range of cognate subjects and build up areas of expertise.


  • On this MA you will help determine the direction of critical theory through small seminar group discussion with leading practitioners in the field.

  • Birkbeck has very active research centres and institutes - including the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities - that add further ways of deepening your knowledge of critical theory and modern and contemporary culture.

  • You will also have access to some of the best library resources in the world, including the University of London Library and the British Library, just a few minutes away from our Bloomsbury campus.

  • Birkbeck is located in the heart of literary London, in Bloomsbury, WC1. You could be studying in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group. The building houses our own creative hub which includes the Peltz Gallery, the Gordon Square Cinema and a theatre and performance space.

  • Birkbeck was ranked 2nd in the UK for its English Language and Literature research in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

  • We offer a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.

Careers and employability

Our graduates are trained to be effective researchers with good communication skills and an ability to critically assess a wide range of textual and other cultural materials.

You will find graduates of the MA Critical Theory following career paths in the following roles or areas:

  • journalism

  • arts and filmmaking

  • arts administration or research

  • digital technologists

  • human rights work and the advocacy sector

  • law and business professions

  • publishing

  • teaching in schools or as lecturers in further and higher education

  • museum and cultural heritage work

  • cultural education or information.

A number of our Master's students go on to study at PhD level and we will provide you with structured support and guidance if you are interested in this progress.

We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.


Not what you are looking for?

Browse other courses in Literature, Literary criticism, Critical theory, Arts, Media studies, Humanities or Cultural studies, or search our comprehensive database of postgrad programs.

Scholarship Opportunity with

Are you a PG student at this University or have you applied to study a postgraduate program at a university in Europe? Tell us your plans and qualify for a £500.00 PGS Scholarship.

Click here