Skip to main content

Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study in which culture is understood not just as textual or artistic products like books, music or films, but as dynamic ways of participating in, making sense of and relating to others in our contemporary world. A major in Cultural Studies introduces you to study of a wide variety of cultural forms and practices. It cultivates critical thinking and an ability to intervene in surrounding social, political and scholarly debates.

Culture shapes our understanding of who we are and the world we share. Cultural Studies explores the cultural aspects of a range of topics, including youth, race, class, nation, gender, consumption, everyday life, popular media and the environment. It will provide you with tools to analyse cultural practices, representations, identities and power.

Historically, Cultural Studies draws principally on the fields of Anthropology, Education, History, Literary Studies, Media and Communications, Philosophy, and Sociology but it now interacts closely with Law, Politics and many of the physical sciences. It has notably influenced disciplines like Literary Studies and Sociology by insisting on the importance of studying the contemporary, the popular, and the everyday.

About the major

A major in Cultural Studies will allow you to examine texts, institutions and practices in relation to systems of power and will provide you with a range of tools to analyse how meanings are produced, circulated and exchanged in a variety of contexts. You will learn how to think analytically, how to question social norms, and how to share ideas in clear and persuasive ways.

The Cultural Studies major equips you to become well-informed and engaged thinkers aware of important contemporary cultural issues and everyday experiences, and it encourages good writing skills. We also train students in ethical scholarly conduct and research methods. Students will understand what cultural competence means in different contexts. (Those interested in engaging with cultural diversity in particular have the option of pursuing a minor in Diversity Studies, also coordinated by the Discipline of Gender Cultural and Studies.) You will learn values of intellectual generosity and critical engagement without closing down discussion, through studying how power operates discursively.

Understanding the social significance of cultural issues will prepare you for further research and graduates with majors in Cultural Studies often go on to careers in the arts, heritage and cultural sectors, education, government, the NGO sector, legal areas, and media and communications. Cultural Studies also complements study in other fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as degrees in Business, Education, Psychology, Law, and the sciences as all fields of practice have cultural dimensions.

Requirements for completion

The Cultural Studies major and minor requirements are listed in the Cultural Studies unit of study table.

Advanced coursework

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the advanced coursework units of study page.


The honours program gives students an opportunity to refine their thinking to a very high degree, pursuing an independent research topic that will be of deep interest to them. The thesis is an extended piece of research on an approved topic of the student's choosing, and is written under the individual supervision of a member of staff who will be an active researcher in their own right. The thesis gives students the experience of formulating and conducting a substantial piece of independent research, working closely with a supervisor who helps to bring their reflections and research into sharper focus. It is thus a key means of demonstrating the attributes required for further study.

The honours year consists of:

  • 18,000-20,000 word thesis on a topic devised by the student in consultation with a supervisor appointed by the discipline;
  • WMST6902 Arguing the Point, a unit which provides training in thesis research and writing and includes a series of practical research skills;
  • Participation in an honours mini-conference where constructive peer review is given and received on a 20 minute thesis presentation; and
  • A seminar unit SOFH4001 Breakthroughs in the Humanities
  • The final assessment involves 60% thesis and 40% coursework (20% WMST6902+ 20% SOFH4001).
Honours admission requirements

Admission to Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in Cultural Studies with an average of 70 percent or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where undertaking the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Cultural Studies honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators may be found at the Discipline of Gender and Cultural Studies website.

The Discipline of Gender and Cultural Studies is administered by the School of Humanities.