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R9K707 Culture and Difference (Interdisciplinary) MA Postgraduate Taught 2012


UCAS code R9K707
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year
Start Date 2012-10-01
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 3434

Course Content


This MA is concerned with the shaping of identities at borderlines of all kinds. It is interdisciplinary in approach, bringing together colleagues from Modern Languages, Theology, Philosophy, Law, Education, and Anthropology.

It explores cultural diversity, and beyond that, the human relationship to otherness in its many guises (racial, cultural, gendered, and so on).

Drawing on a number of approaches, it considers the various ways in which otherness has been considered by anthropologists and philosophers, as well as dealing with current issues such as Islamism, European expansion, and globalisation. It also explores issues relating to the representation of otherness in literature, film and the media. Sample topics include the 'discovery' of the New World; primitivism in Modern Art; psychoanalysis and alterity: self as other; eugenics; human-animal borderlines and interactions; cosmopolitanism; and gender relations.

The programme is designed for students, regardless of disciplinary background, who wish to explore topics of interest from a broader perspective than is usual, and with a more extensive canvas of theoretical and methodological approaches, in order to expand their scholarly and personal horizons of understanding.

It is an excellent preparation for students who wish to prepare for a PhD, or for those who wish to pursue specialise studies at MA level in order to prepare for a career in a wide range of employment areas, such as teaching, local government, NGOs, journalism, and immigration. Similarly, it is also a course for those who simply want the intellectual pleasure of a further year in which to deepen their understanding of topics both familiar and new.

Course Structure

The programme consists of three core modules covering essential research skills, key theoretical and critical debates, and an application of such debates to different representations of otherness, a choice of optional modules offering more detailed and specialised areas of study in related topics of interest to individual students, and a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation involving detailed study of a particular aspect of a topic related to the broad area of culture and difference.

Core Modules

  • 'Thinking Otherness'  (30 credits) (MELA42330)
  • 'Representing Otherness' (30 credits) (MELA42430)
  • 'Research Methods and Resources' (30 credits) (MELA53830)
  • Dissertation (60 credits) (MELA40360).

Optional Modules

Optional modules vary but typically include the following:

  • Religion, Ethnicity, and Otherness (MELA42630)
  • Negotiating the Human (MELA42530)
  • Contemporary Gender Theory (PHIL40930)
  • Special Field in Anthropology and Regional Anthropology (ANTH40130).

Teaching and assessment details

  • summative essays
  • dissertation
  • the research methods module is assessed by a bibliographical exercise, an oral presentation, and a research proposal.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

A good 2.1 degree or equivalent at undergraduate (BA) level.

English Language Requirements

Candidates whose first language is not English are expected to achieve an overall band score of at least 7.0 in the IELTS test (with a writing score of 7.0 or above and no other component below 7.0). Candidates whose first language is not English, taking the TOEFL IBT(Internet Based Test), are expected to achieve at least a score of 102 (writing score of 27 or more and with no element below 25). In all cases the relevant certificate should have been issued within two years of the programme start date.We welcome applications from holders of international qualifications. For advice on the equivalency of international qualifications and further information on English language requirements, please contact our International Office or visit our website.

English Language requirements


Requirements and Admissions

You can apply to our postgraduate programmes via our online application process.

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.


  • DurhamUniversity Arts andHumanities Faculty MA Scholarship Scheme
  • Postgraduate bursaries
  • AHRC awards under the Block Grant Partnership (for UK and EU students).

The University also has a range of funding opportunities for postgraduate students. To find out what support you
could be eligible to receive see our online funding database at  

Career Opportunities

Modern Languages & Cultures, School of

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and
details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Campus tours

Are you interested in studying at Durham University? Then why not come along to one of our Campus Tours? They run regularly at Durham City and Queen's Campus, Stockton on Wednesday afternoons. For further information, please click here.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits

Department Information

Modern Languages & Cultures, School of


We currently have over 120 postgraduate students studying for taught and research postgraduate degrees, working on topics as diverse as translation, literature, theatre, cinema and photography. As a student in the School you will participate in a variety of postgraduate activities including dialogue days and research seminars. Our research encompasses all the traditional areas of Modern Languages and Cultures, as well as a number of less orthodox topics, and is internationally recognised for its excellence.

Interdisciplinary research is central to our research. Within the School, research activity is co-ordinated by four research groups: Literature, History, Theory; Culture and Difference; Visual and Performance; and Translation, Linguistics and Pedagogy.

We also play a major role in the University's Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (IMRS), as well as three of its research centres: the Centre for Seventeenth Century Studies, the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies (DCAPS), and the Centre for the Study of the Classical Tradition. All provide research opportunities and contacts across a range of disciplines.

The School has an excellent success rate in our postgraduates finding employment on completion of their studies, with many working either in universities or in the culture industries, such as media and publishing.


Teaching Staff

Department of Anthropology

Dr Ben Campbell works on fields as diverse as posthuman kinship and relationships of human and animal care. In 2007 he published a book entitled Racialization, ethnicity, genes and the re-invention of the Nation in Europe.

Dr Peter Collins did his first degree in sociology and social anthropology at the University of Wales before going on to complete an MA in development studies and a PhD in social anthropology at Manchester University. His research interests include religion, ritual and symbolism; historical anthropology; qualitative research methods, particularly narrative analysis; the social construction of 'stress'; the anthropology of Britain; aesthetics and the built environment.

Dr Yulia Egorova is a Social Anthropologist. She received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University. At the moment she is conducting two projects. The first one is an AHRC-funded study devoted to the Judaising movement of Bene-Ephraim of Andhra Pradesh. The second is a project which examines the socio-cultural implications of population genetics with particular reference to research on populations of South Asia.

Dr Matei Candea has recently joined the Department. His research centres on the nature and limits of relationality. This thread runs through his doctoral work on relationship and alterity in Corsica, his interest in the radically anti-essentialist and micro-relational work of Gabriel Tarde, a once-forgotten French sociologist for whom "every thing is a society, and every phenomenon a social fact", and his most recent research project: an ethnographic exploration of interspecies sociality between biologists and the meerkats they study in the Kalahari desert.

Department of Education

Dr Hazel Donkin works on art history and has supervised several pieces of work on a range of topics in this field.

Prof Richard Smith is Director of the University's Combined Degrees in Arts and Social Sciences, and teaches courses in the theory and philosophy of social science. His research interests are in the philosophy of social science and in philosophical issues in education, particularly higher education, postmodernity, and therapy. He is Editor of the new journal Ethics and Education, and Associate Editor of the Journal of Philosophy of Education.

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Dr Kathryn Banks has research interests in the field of sixteenth-century French literature and culture. She is particularly interested in interrogating the relationships between 'literary' and 'non-literary' texts. Her recent book, Cosmos and Image in the Renaissance, explores representations in natural-philosophical poetry and love lyric of the divine, the human and the cosmic. She is currently working on late sixteenth-century epic Christian poetry of the Creation and the Apocalypse. Another project focuses on the interplay of philosophical ideas and rhetorical categories in Pantaléon Thévenin's commentary on Du Bartas's Sepmaine..

Dr Marie-Claire Barnet has research interests in twentieth-century French literature and visual arts, Surrealism, autobiography, and word and image studies, as well as an interest in critical theory covering Derrida, gender studies, and psychoanalysis. She has recently co-edited a book entitled Affaires de famille: The Family in Contemporary French Culture and Theory, published by Rodopi.

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