University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Cultural Studies

The Cultural Studies Program is offered by the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, within the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI). Cultural Studies units can be taken as part of a major in the field, as part of a double major with Gender Studies, or as unit choices for students taking other majors. If you are interested in taking individual Cultural Studies units, check the necessary prerequisites listed in the unit of study table.

About the major

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.

A major in Cultural Studies enables you to become an engaged critical thinker, informed about cultural issues and their social significance. It 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, legal areas, education, government, the NGO sector, and media and communications. Studying Cultural Studies also complements study in other fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as degrees in Business, Education, Psychology, and Law, as all social institutions and fields of practice have cultural dimensions.

Pathway through the major

A major in Cultural Studies requires 36 senior credit points. At least 12 credit points from core units of study at 2000 level and at least six credit points from core units of study at 3000 level must be taken. The remaining 18 credit points may comprise any further core units or listed electives from areas including Gender Studies, Digital Cultures, Sociology, Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Music, and Philosophy.

The units available for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Cultural Studies. See the unit of study links at the top right of this page.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

In the first year of a Cultural Studies major you will complete GCST1601; plus at least one of the following: GCST1602 Introduction to Gender Studies and GCST1603 Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps.

Introduction to Cultural Studies demonstrates how media representations and cultural practices convey meanings that inform our everyday social and cultural world. It provides students with concepts and techniques that enable them to better understand and to critically debate contemporary cultural issues. Introduction to Gender Studies familiarises students with foundational concepts in the study of gender, including how gender organises our cultural lives, bodies, and sexualities. Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps is a new unit which traces the history of screen cultures, focusing on how popular media is used to produce and represent masculinity and feminity.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You can choose from a range of options at the senior-intermediate (2000) level that are designed to broaden your knowledge of Cultural Studies and its objects of study. You will be encouraged to draw upon your existing cultural literacies and you will gain further contextual understanding of contemporary culture and of Cultural Studies approaches. All senior-intermediate units aim to enable you to develop theoretical positions and debate critical issues through the interpretation of cultural forms and practices. You complete a minimum of 12 credit points at 2000 level from core units of study.

Senior-advanced (3000 level) units of study extend the research and learning experience for students and may be taken after completion of 12 credits from core units at 2000 level. You choose from units designed to intensify your study of cultural theory and Cultural Studies research methods. You may choose to focus on research methods or cultural theory, or do both. For a major in Cultural Studies you complete a minimum of 6 credit points of core units at 3000 level.


To proceed to an honours year in Cultural Studies, students must have an average of 70 percent or above in 48 senior credit points taken from the Cultural Studies unit of study table including completion of the requirements for a major.

It is also possible to do joint honours in Gender and Cultural Studies. Prospective students for this joint program should see the departmental website.

Contact/further information

Information on our units of study and timetables is available at, or by phoning the SOPHI Office on +61 2 9351 2862. Enquiries can be addressed to the current Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies who is listed at: