Study options and qualifications

Banksy man throwing flowers

Cultural Studies means studying culture - but from particular angles

The contemporary theories we use view culture as dynamic rather than static. In Cultural Studies we consider the following sorts of questions: how is culture produced, and who controls it? How do we use and interpret culture? How might culture be preserved, destroyed, or changed? How does our sense of identity merge with our culture? How is culture changing and developing in the 21st century?

Unique to UC

The programme at Canterbury is the only one in Aotearoa New Zealand, and we draw on more than 15 participating programmes - most of the College of Arts. 

One of the central strengths of Cultural Studies is its interdisciplinarity - the way that it draws on the perspectives, methods, and theories of numerous fields of study. The idea is not to reduce culture to something simple and unified, but to appreciate its complexity.

Cultural Studies pathways

We specialise in four strands or pathways of study: Gender and Sexuality, Aotearoa New Zealand Studies, Human-Animal Studies, and Popular and Visual Culture.

Cultural Studies is offered as a major and a minor in the Bachelor of Arts.

Our core course is CULT202 - Cultural Politics / Cultural Activism, which offers students an excellent grounding in the debates and theories that inform Cultural Studies in the 21st century. It is also an excellent way for students of other disciplines to gain proficiency in a wide variety of the sorts of theories and frameworks that underpin contemporary study in the humanities.

Interdisciplinary teaching

One of Cultural Studies’ great strengths is its interdisciplinarity, and courses from many subjects can contribute to your Cultural Studies major or minor. We offer four specialised pathways: Gender and Sexuality, Aotearoa New Zealand Studies, Popular and Visual Culture, and Human-Animal Studies. You can also opt for a more diverse approach to your degree and construct your own pathway.

Please contact the Cultural Studies Programme Coordinator to find out more about Cultural Studies, or follow the link in the box below to find out more about the courses we offer.

Postgraduate study is both challenging and rewarding, and the interdisciplinary nature of the degree makes a postgraduate qualification in Cultural Studies very valuable to students and potential employers alike.

A postgraduate degree in Cultural Studies will provide you with:

  • An in depth and specialised understanding of the practical and theoretical debates within your field
  • An appreciation of the complex nature of culture, and an understanding of how culture is a dynamic site of social and political struggle
  • Intellectual flexibility and competence across a range of disciplines
  • Practical research skills, including the ability to analyse written texts and digital and visual media

BA Honours in Cultural Studies

Study at honours level is a good way of both increasing the value of your first degree and introducing you to more advanced study. As an honours student, you choose four courses from the wide range of options available within the programme and its associated courses.

One of these courses must be CULT402, our core research paper, which is a 10,000 word research essay on a topic of your own choice. As with a thesis, students meet regularly with a supervisor who reads and discusses drafts of the work, and suggests appropriate theoretical readings. If you are planning to go on to further study, we highly recommend using this research paper as a pilot project to test the viability of a MA or PhD project you may have in mind for the following year.

Postgraduate study is both challenging and rewarding, and the interdisciplinary nature of the degree makes a postgraduate qualification in Cultural Studies very valuable to students and potential employers alike.

A postgraduate degree in Cultural Studies will provide you with:

  • An in depth and specialised understanding of the practical and theoretical debates within your field
  • An appreciation of the complex nature of culture, and an understanding of how culture is a dynamic site of social and political struggle
  • Intellectual flexibility and competence across a range of disciplines
  • Practical research skills, including the ability to analyse written texts and digital and visual media

There is a great deal of scope for higher study within Cultural Studies, and the flexibility of the degree allows students from a broad range of disciplines to complete dissertations in innovative and diverse areas of study.

What do I need to get into the programme?

A BA (Hons) in Cultural Studies with at least a B average. However, there is provision for special entry for students with other backgrounds, particularly from other universities.

What is the course of study?

A thesis of up to 40,000 words, normally completed in from one to three years. The development of the thesis proposal is similar to that for CULT402.

For advice on which option to take, talk to the Cultural Studies Programme Coordinator.

How is it assessed?

The thesis will be marked by your supervisor and by an external examiner.

How is it graded?

After completing your BA (Hons), you may graduate with that degree or convert your results into an MA. If you graduate at that point, you will not be eligible to take out Honours again in the same subject at MA, although if you produce an excellent thesis you may be awarded a MA with Distinction. For advice on which option to take, talk to the Cultural Studies Programme Coordinator.

What do I need to get into the programme?

A good Honours degree in Cultural Studies or a closely related subject. Talk initially with the Cultural Studies Programme Coordinator.

Can I go straight from BA (Hons) to PhD?

If you have a very good Honours degree, yes. But it is a big hurdle, and it is often better to enrol for an MA and apply to convert it to a PhD after a year or so if it is developing well.

What is the course of study?

There is no coursework, just a thesis of up to 100,000 words. The time limits are specified in the University Calendar, but the most important time factor is usually the duration of any scholarship the student is awarded. Enrolment may be completed at any time, and preparatory work involves developing a substantial proposal.

Consult the Scholarships Office database for a full list of available Scholarships and awards.

Course planning

You can construct a Cultural Studies degree that is quite generalised or relatively specialised (focusing on film and media; sexuality and gender; places, spaces and technologies; bicultural studies; cultural identity and politics; environmentalism and human-animal studies, for example). 

More information

See the Course Information website for more details about studying Cultural Studies.

Explore the full list of courses offered in

Cultural Studies