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Birkbeck, University of London: Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity

Institution Birkbeck, University of London
Department School of Social Sciences
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


Birkbeck is a global centre for research and teaching on race and racism. We are home to multidisciplinary communities of scholars and students, academic programmes and research centres committed to the study of this subject area. This innovative, interdisciplinary culture, diaspora, ethnicity course stretches across the social sciences and arts and humanities. It offers you the opportunity to explore:

  • histories and cartographies of 'race' and racism, multiculture and postcoloniality; empire and the formation of modern Britain and contemporary transnational political communities, social identities and urban cultures

  • connections between histories of colonisation and contemporary social formations and inequalities in the UK

  • how local debates on 'race' and racism are shaped by the global geopolitics of the twenty-first century.

The course examines connections between interlocking colonial histories across the globe and our ordinary, local, everyday life here in contemporary Britain. We focus on a broad range of subjects such as histories of colonisation, systems of slavery, indenture and other forms of colonial labour; histories of the concept of 'race' and other systems of categorisation; colonial cultures, nationalisms, 'respectability' and the invention of 'whiteness'; histories of criminalisation and policing and antiracist and antifascist resistance; theorising culture, community, hybridity and creolisation; postcolonial belonging and diaspora; 'race' and 'beauty'; contemporary racial nationalisms and religious authoritarian movements; and 'race' gender, sexuality and desire.

We offer this course as a Master’s, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate. For the Diploma and Certificate you study fewer modules and do not complete a dissertation.

The Postgraduate Diploma enables you to progress to, and complete, the MA if you wish. The Postgraduate Certificate allows you to progress to and complete the Postgraduate Diploma or MA.


  • This interdisciplinary postgraduate course will introduce you to significant historical and political debates and theoretical perspectives in the broad area of 'race' and racism, multiculture and postcoloniality. MA students can undertake an empirical or theoretical dissertation or a practice-based dissertation such as a film or an exhibition.

  • Through our formal link with the University of São Paulo, Brazil, you can undertake an option module at the university as part of your study at Birkbeck.

  • You will become part of a vibrant, stimulating and diverse intellectual environment. Birkbeck is the first higher education institution in London to receive the title University of Sanctuary. You will have access to the Race Forum at Birkbeck, research centres including the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Centre for Law and the Humanities. This course is also supported by specialist student reading groups that focus on particular subject areas such as medicine, ‘race’ and empire, and psychoanalysis and colonialism.

  • This course consistently achieves high levels of satisfaction from Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey respondents. In 2019 and 2020, the student satisfaction rate was 100%. In 2021 the rate was 95% (the course was temporarily moved fully online due to Covid-19).

  • If you are taking this course part time, you may be eligible for a Bonnart Trust Master’s Studentship which will cover the cost of your tuition fees. You must have received an offer of a place on the course by 31 May 2023 to apply.

Careers and employability

Graduates can pursue career paths in organisations concerned with:

  • criminalisation and policing

  • domestic violence

  • refugees and asylum

  • human rights

  • homelessness

  • imprisonment

  • addiction

  • youth and community work.


Postgraduate Certificate - PgCert

Postgraduate Diploma - PgDip

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