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R9K707 Culture and Difference (Interdisciplinary) MA Postgraduate Taught 2016


UCAS code R9K707
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year
Start Date 06-10-2016
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 2909

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 specialised 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)
  • Research Skills (30 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits).

Optional Modules

Optional modules vary but typically include the following:

  • Representing Otherness
  • Religion, Ethnicity, and Otherness
  • Negotiating the Human
  • Contemporary Gender Theory.

Learning and Teaching

The programme is mainly delivered through seminars and tutorials. Each of the two main modules and two in-house elective modules offer 20 hours of seminars in total (10 x 2-hour sessions).Typically seminars are divided into two sections, the first half being a lecture-type presentation of ideas on the part of the lecturer, providing key information on a particular area, and identifying the main areas for discussion and debate among scholars working in the field in question. The second half of the seminars is generally of a more traditional sort, with the students engaging in small group and plenary discussion on topics emerging from the lecture part of the seminar and the wider reading, worksheets, and independent study that they are expected to have worked through and engaged in prior to the seminar (280 hours of independent study in all for each module). This mode of teaching is followed by both core and optional modules on the course, and ensures students have access both to knowledge and understanding from expert lecturing staff and the opportunity to engage in more active learning scenarios, in discussion with peers and teaching staff.

The Research Skills module operates through a series of 10 2-hour sessions delivered over the first two terms, supplemented by introductory sessions at the beginning of the year. It should be supported by 282 hours of independent learning. Some of the Research Skills classes are largely lecture-based, while others are more interactive and taught in smaller groups; this depends on whether the emphasis is on communicating information (for example about resources available) or on practising skills (for example presentation skills).

The Dissertation part of the programme is undertaken towards the end of the programme (primarily over the summer vacation). As befits a module taken at this stage of the course, most of the learning is taken up by independent study, utilising the skills, knowledge, and understanding gained on the other modules (a total of 594 hours of independent study). The Course Director and allotted supervisors are available for consultation regarding choice of dissertation essay title at any point throughout the year. Once work starts in earnest on the dissertation, teaching provision takes the form of six one-hour, one-to-one tutorial sessions. These are designed for the students to discuss plans and timetables for completion, attain feedback on their work in progress, and address any queries or issues they may wish to raise.

Aside from the formal seminars, staff are also available in office hours or at a mutually agreed time to discuss academic matters. They are also available on request for tutorial discussion of aspects of students’ summative essays. Where required, this takes the form of one-to-one meetings and is designed to supplement the extensive written and oral feedback given to students on their formative written work and oral presentation, which they are expected to carry out in the weeks and months prior to submitting their summative work. Finally, students are also strongly encouraged to attend relevant research seminars in the School of Modern Languages and elsewhere in the University. 

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

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

We will require two academic letters of reference. If these are not uploaded with your application, we will contact your referees directly. It would be useful if you could inform your referees to let them know that they will be approached for references by Durham University.

English Language requirements

IELTS of at least 7.0 in the IELTS test (with no component below 6.5).

Requirements and Admissions

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Fees and Funding

Fees shown are for one year. Total fee will depend on the length of your programme. All fees are subject to annual increases. For more information please visit the Tuition Fees page

Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding

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Department Information


Modern Languages & Cultures, School of


Teaching Staff

Staff involved in teaching in the MA in Culture and Difference include: 

Centre for Medical Humanities

Durham Law School




Modern Languages and Cultures


Theology and Religion

NB: Information contained on the website or in the literature with respect to the fee is correct at the time of publication but the University reserves the right to change the course information or fee at a later date.