The MA in Consumption, Culture & Marketing is an interdisciplinary masters programme that draws together content and teaching from both marketing and sociology. It is aimed at individuals who want to think intellectually about the world, enjoy being challenged and are curious about business practice. The knowledge and skills gained could help develop a range of professions including policy development, publishing, academia and, of course, marketing and commercial management.
This course looks in-depth at our consumer culture and seeks to understand it and will engage in a number of theoretical areas: branding, marketing, bio-power and neoliberalism. You will explore claims that our contemporary world can be best understood as a consumer society and a brand culture, as well as how marketing and consumerism increasingly define our experiences, social relationships and civic infrastructure. As such we seek to analyse marketing behaviour and consumption practices with a view to better understand how marketing connects with society and culture.
You will join an intellectually stimulating, friendly and supportive research environment and work closely with our expert and experienced academic staff.
- Distinctive from other marketing programmes in that it combines teaching and research from marketing and sociology.
- Innovative programme inviting students to critically explore their lived experiences within the consumer society.
- Flexibility to tailor your studies to suit your specific areas of interest, such as; consumption, markets and culture, marketing communications children and consumption, crime and consumerism, social identities, consumption and difference.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how consumers consume brands. You will look at current ideas within marketing and consumption scholarship and practice, considering the centrality of brands to commercial practice and everyday living. With a focus on critical engagement, you will learn about branding and consumption theory, incorporating current thinking on the strategic management of brands, consumer behaviour and its role within general marketing practice, recent theoretical formulations concerning brand culture and consumer culture, and how personal experiences, relationships and identities are partly organised and mediated by the consumption of brands and their immanence in a constantly evolving symbolic order.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the theoretical analysis of consumption in modern society. You will look at the development of consumption and consumerism in society, examining the foundational sociological ideas and arguments concerning the role of culture in promoting a sense of belonging and identity-formation. You will also consider how consumerism and cultural production are socially-contingent, shaped by historical conditions and political-economic arrangements.
This module will provide you with an overview of the key methodological debates in management research, and the methods and techniques of qualitative data gathering and analysis. You will examine competing perspectives on research methodology, the relationship between theory and method in research design and the nature of validation and reliability in the research process. You will be introduced to the ethical issues involved in research, and the main elements of the research planning process. You will also look at the techniques and methods that are commonly deployed by qualitative researchers in the management and broader social science fields.
In this module, you will develop an understanding of core marketing concepts in order to help you develop a thorough understanding of marketing. You will apply marketing theories and frameworks to assess the effectiveness of strategic approaches. You will explore and critically evaluate the theory and applications of marketing concepts. You will also develop a solid working knowledge of the strategic marketing concepts, methods and practices, and apply this knowledge to practical problems and variety of contexts in analytic and creative ways.
The dissertation provides you with an opportunity to learn and practise researching and writing skills for your future career. You will apply the analytical and problem-solving techniques you have acquired throughout your studies to explore a specialist interest in greater depth. You will critically evaluate academic literature, collect data systematically, organise your findings, and present your research results in a clear and logical and manner. To help, your research proposal will be read by the programme director, who will select an appropriate member of staff to act as your dissertation supervisor. Your final submission will be between 12,000 and 15,000 words in length.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
This module will introduce you to the basic marketing theories and practices necessary for the successful running of art galleries. You will look at how art is consumed, its consumers, and how arts organisations operate across the private, public, and voluntary sectors. You will consider the particularities of 'marketing for the arts', such as audience development, corporate sponsorship, and philanthropy, and how they are addressed alongside conventional marketing concerns, such as segmentation, targeting, positioning, branding, intermediation, and promotions. You will also examine financial investment vehicles for theatre, film, and fine art, and the role of institutional critique by contemporary artists.
In this module you will examine the principal means of marketing communications – advertising, promotion, public relations, direct marketing and sales teams. You will develop an understanding of the contemporary media environment and how this impacts on marketers' efforts to communicate with stakeholders. You will examine how communications must be tailored to the market segment, and look at the impact of communication cultures, particularly overseas, on market entry.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the broader socio-cultural issues relevant to marketing practice in the 21st Century. You will look at the interactions that occur between the market, consumers and the marketplace, focussing on how particular manifestations of culture are constituted, maintained and transformed by broader forces such as cultural narratives, myths, ideologies and grounded in specific socio-economic circumstances and marketplace systems. You will engage with complex theoretical concepts including consumer culture theory, symbolic consumption and the production of culture.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and nature of marketing ethics. You will explore issues at the interface of marketing and moral philosophy, examining the complexity and interconnectedness of moral dilemmas in marketing practice. You will look at ethical reasoning and decision making, developing frameworks for approaching ethical problems that may arise in day-to-day marketing practice. You will consider the links between various ethical dilemmas in marketing mix decisions and marketing management more broadly, assessing the range of responses to marketing issues on behalf of businesses, regulatory bodies, and consumers.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key debates in relation to childhood, children and consumption. You will look at theories of consumption and consumer culture, considering a range of theorists including Marx and commodity fetishism, Veblen and conspicuous consumption, Marcuse's critical theory, Baudrillard and consumer society, and Bourdieu and cultural capital. You will examine these theories within wider debates into conceptualisations of children and childhood, commercial enculturation, and exploitation and empowerment.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the recent resurgence of interest in consumerist society within Criminology. You will look at the connections between consumerism and crime alongside the rich theoretical work of cultural criminology, focussing on the London riots of 2011 and how they were characterised, amongst other things, by a distinctively consumerist acquisitiveness. You will examine the criminalisation of sexuality, the relationship between gang cultures and consumerism, the influence of gender, the marketing of deviance, and consumerism as a motivation for crime.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including essays, group projects and a dissertation.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in a relevant subject but we will consider a high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘good 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start. Find out what scores we require.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
Graduates will have considered a wide range of theoretical issues relating to contemporary lives that form the basis of marketing practice. This knowledge may be useful to pursue a research career, or to augment and progress current careers in fields such as marketing, education, journalism, development, social policy and politics. This course equips postgraduate students with the subject knowledge and expertise required to pursue a successful career, or provides a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.
- Graduates in recent years have entered different areas including Senior Associate at Bank of China International, Reporter at Xinhua News Agency, Senior Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Finance Officer at Ealing Borough Council and Relationship Manager (Investments) at Barclays Bank.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7,900
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,900
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.