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Social & Cultural Geography, M.A.

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months


This programme, which is ESRC recognised for research training, and part of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre, combines a thorough grounding in social science research methodologies with an in-depth exploration of topics at the forefront of contemporary social and cultural geography.

The topics covered include: social identities (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability; national identity); migration, transnationalism, and refugee/asylum issues; the life course and innovative methodologies. You will be able to choose from a number of ‘optional’ modules that will allow you to explore modules on other programmes, such as Activism and Social Change, Gender Studies, or Sustainability.

On completing the programme you will have greater confidence in conducting independent research that you can apply in both academic and non-academic contexts. In addition to developing a firm grounding in qualitative and quantitative methods of research, you are exposed to a range of theoretical approaches in the module ‘Space and Social Theory’. You will also have the opportunity to explore cutting edge themes in social and cultural geography through modules associated with the School’s research clusters on ‘Citizenship and Belonging’ and ‘Cities and Social Justice’.


In addition to continuing to PhD study, our graduates have obtained posts in local government, the NGO sector, and private industry. The transferable research skills developed on this masters are applicable in a wide range of contexts.

Programme Structure

The programme consists of core and optional modules, with space for students to take appropriate electives from other departments in the University (including the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies; the School of Earth and Environment; Politics; Sociology, and related areas.

Core modules include:

  • Qualitative Research Methods: This core module provides an advanced treatment of core issues in qualitative research design, data collection, and analysis. The module is primarily seminar based, although there is some use of lecture and other techniques. Students will develop sophisticated critiques of published qualitative work while providing practice in applying qualitative techniques. Methods of data collection discussed include participant observation, interviewing (both individual and group), and textual analysis. Attention is also given to qualitative analysis and writing practices, and students will receive an introduction to the use of qualitative analysis software.
  • Space and Social Theory: This core module provides an in-depth exploration of key theoretical thinkers and approaches in contemporary human geography. The module takes students from the modernist period through postmodernism and more recent theoretical developments. Staff relate these theoretical developments to research and reflect on how theories can be translated into practice.
  • Quantitative and Spatial Methods: This core module explains and demonstrates geography relevant quantitative and spatial analysis methods. Through both lectures and computer practical sessions, students gain experience in the application of geographical analysis methods to real world problems and learn to use appropriate statistical and GIS software.
  • Citizenship and Belonging: This core module introduces students to research currently being undertaken by members of the School of Geography's Citizenship and Belonging research cluster. The module thus offers students the opportunity to engage with issues at the forefront of contemporary geographical research. Members of this research cluster are engaged in research around several core themes including social identity, social inclusion, equality and diversity, the transnational society, and diaspora. Attendance at selected departmental and research cluster seminars are a central part of the module.

Optional modules include:

  • Spaces of Radical Thought: This option module (led by staff on the Activism and Social Change MA) focused on key radical thinkers in human geography and beyond. Political activism today has its roots in a body of social theory that has evolved over the last hundred years. There are many different radical traditions but most have been inspired by a number of core thinkers, such as Marx. Rather than attempting an encyclopaedic review of all existing radical thinking traditions, the module team will introduce selected thinkers and their works, that represent different strands of contemporary radical thinking enabling follow-up discussion on issues and themes that have been raised.
  • Researching for Social Change: This optional module (led by staff on the MA in Activism and Social Change) provides a grounding in the principles, methods and strategies available to the campaigning researcher (or researching campaigner). It opens with a discussion on the role of the 'University' within the context of neoliberal globalisation. It then introduces students to different traditions of scholar activism and action research (a methodology aimed at 'improving practice' and 'achieving goals' rather than simply 'producing knowledge'), discussing ethical issues of positionality, privilege and power along the way. The remainder of the module explores some of the advanced skills and knowledges that are useful for social movement oriented research. These include: using Freedom of Information, participatory techniques (appraisal, video, mapping) and self-reflexive praxis. In line with the learning objectives, the module will be open to students' ideas, questions, and ways of thinking, 'free and open discussion' and will encourage 'independent thinking'.
  • Cities and Social Justice: This optional module is led by members of the School’s Cities and Social Justice research cluster, and focuses on cutting edge debates regarding themes including the neoliberalisation of the city; public space; urban social movements; and anti-capitalist alternatives.
  • Introducing GIS: This optional module provides an introduction to GIS for students with little practical background applying GIS in social science settings.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity

    You can choose to do this programme part-time or full-time.

    • Full-time duration 12 months
    • Average part-time duration 24 months
    • Intensity Flexible
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Schedule IELTS

    StudyPortals Tip: The UK government has confirmed new English-language testing requirements for visa and immigration purposes. Learn more

Academic Requirements

Undergraduate qualifications

Our normal minimum requirement is a good second class Honours degree or equivalent in geography or a related subject. However, many candidates are still in their final year of undergraduate study when they first apply, in which case we take note of what your academic referee's assessment of your abilities.

Successful candidates in recent years have included those with good first degrees in related subjects such as sociology & social policy, English and history. If you think that you might be interested in our course, but feel unsure as to whether you have the necessary background, get in touch with us to discuss your position. The same may apply if you have been away from geographical study at a university level for a while and want to use the course to update your understanding and skills; we are pleased to offer advice on the status of your existing qualifications.

Work experience

Relevant work experience is viewed positively and is taken into account particularly for candidates whose first degree grade is slightly below our requirement.

Part-time study

We usually recruit several part-time students every year who take the course over two academic years and combine study with paid work or other commitments. This means that you can work to fund your studies, or gain a new qualification without giving up an existing job. We aim to be particularly flexible in helping you to put together a part-time course structure that meets your academic goals while recognising the constraints upon your time for study.

Overseas students

We welcome applications for full-time study from overseas and EU candidates.

In recent years we have attracted students from all around the world including the USA, Italy, Spain, Nigeria, Canada, Australia and India. To be able to get the most out of our course we ask that you have an academic qualification equivalent to a good second class degree from a British university.

English language qualifications

If your first language is not English, the University requires you to provide evidence of competence in English. We ask that you meet our minimum language requirements by enclosing a recent TOEFL or IELTS certificate with your application. Minimum requirements are:

  • TOEFL score (internet-based test) of at least 92 overall with at least 21 in listening and reading, 22 in writing and 23 in speaking
  • IELTS score of 6.5 with at least 6.0 in all components
  • PTE (Academic) score of 64 with at least 60 in all components
  • Other qualifications are accepted, but will be reviewed when you apply.

If you feel that your level of English is not adequate for your course, you should consider enrolling on one of the full-time pre-sessional English language courses run by the Language Centre at the University of Leeds. These courses are of six or ten weeks duration and prepare students in the English language skills needed for study and provide a useful orientation to academic and social life in Britain. Even if you already fulfil the University's English language requirement, you may still find the preparation given by these courses very helpful.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Leeds

  • 637 - 1110 GBP/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Our scholarships and funding include:
  • If you’re a former student of the University of Leeds you could be eligible for a 10% alumni tuition fee bursary
  • Subject related academic achievement scholarships
  • Leeds Masters Scholarships for UK students worth £5,000
  • Two sports scholarships are available to support elite athletes
Postgraduate loans and bursaries
  • If you are a UK or EU national and plan to start a full-time, part-time or distance learning taught or research Masters degree course from September 2016 you may be able to apply for a government-backed loan of up to £10,000.
  • Professional and career development loans can be used to support a wide range of courses that lead to employment or enhance job skills.
  • For UK students undertaking certain health and social care courses, NHS funding may be available.
Extra financial help
You may be eligible for further support if you:
  • have a disability
  • are in financial hardship

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

The Global Study Awards: get funded with up to £10,000 to study abroad

Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, Studyportals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.

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