In Cultural Studies, ‘culture’ is understood very broadly, but with a strong emphasis on local everyday life. Cultural Studies does not follow traditional distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture; a Killers video becomes a significant cultural text alongside, say, a classical opera. Cultural Studies looks at many cultural forms which have often been ignored by universities: advertising, media, music, fashion, sport and leisure are shown to be extremely powerful political forces in shaping our societies and our identities.
The contemporary theories of culture we use tend to view culture as something dynamic, living and changeable – rather than static and permanent. This leads to questions of how culture is produced, how we use and interpret culture, how culture can be preserved, destroyed, or remodelled, how our sense of identity merges with our culture, and what is happening to culture in the new world of commodity circulation, communications and information technologies, and globalisation.
Cultural Studies constantly makes connections with other subjects. This makes it an ideal ingredient in a double major degree, paired either with a more traditional subject or with other interdisciplinary programmes such as Cinema Studies or Media and Communication. You may use many of our courses as prerequisites to advance in other subjects, keeping your options open. You can construct a degree that is quite generalised (perhaps suited for a teaching career) or relatively specialised (in, say, film and media, places, spaces and technologies, postcolonial studies, or cultural identity and policy).
Courses from many subjects can lead to a degree majoring in Cultural Studies. Our first-year courses are taught within a wide range of programmes including Antarctic Studies, Anthropology, Art History and Theory, Cinema Studies, Media and Communication, English, Geography, History, Māori and Indigenous Studies, and Sociology (see Related subjects).
Our programme is constructed so that students with a variety of backgrounds will converge in the 200 and 300-level core courses.
At 200-level courses become more specialised and the structure of the programme develops a sharper focus. The compulsory 300-level course combines theory with practical research, while the numerous optional courses at that level offer a taste of the advanced specialised work that is an excellent basis for postgraduate work.
Cultural Studies is an increasingly popular base for students moving into postgraduate research, offering a wide range of thesis prospects and methods of work.
Cultural Studies leads to careers in fields where a wide analytic grasp of contemporary culture is required: the media industries, journalism, publishing, writing, website design, advertising, museology, public relations, school teaching, etc. Because of the breadth and flexibility of its understanding of culture, it also makes possible a lot of movement among such fields.
Cultural Studies is an increasingly popular base for students moving into postgraduate research, offering a wide range of thesis prospects and methods of work. It is also an attractive field for mature students who may have completed a more traditional education but have a curiosity about new developments in education and cultural policy. The objective of Cultural Studies is not to undermine traditional subjects – but it will expand the context in which you see them!
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers