Decolonial Thought and Social Theory MSc

Year of entry

Postgraduate Virtual Open Day

Join us on Wednesday 28 February to learn more about studying your postgraduate degree at Leeds. Book your place

Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a social science or related subject.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.
UK fees
£11,750 (Total)
International fees
£24,500 (Total)

Course overview

Three students chatting on campus.

The MSc in Decolonial Thought and Social Theory offers an exciting interdisciplinary focus for the study of decoloniality, as well as the various social and political problems it touches upon.

By studying this course you’ll be able to critically understand issues and debates around the world concerning the contested legacies and continuities of colonialism. You’ll be equipped to do this from epistemological, socio-economic and geopolitical perspectives.

This course explores how complex decolonial theoretical frameworks intersect with the challenges and debates raised by social theories and key global debates. You’ll be encouraged to consider the positioning and relevance of classical and contemporary theory (including feminist, postcolonial and psychoanalytical perspectives) and investigate these in relation to the common issues surrounding economic, social, political and cultural phenomena.

Supported by leading research centres The Bauman Institute and the Centre of Ethnicity and Racism Studies – and taught by expert tutors – you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in an area that supports your own interests and career goals. Our optional modules provide the opportunity to pursue further advanced research skills or specialise in social topics such as postcolonial feminism, global inequalities, popular culture and religion.

By studying this course you’ll gain insight into the social change affecting our societies, and you will become equipped to consider decoloniality with a critical lens.


  • Benefit from the expertise of the Centre of Ethnicity and Racism Studies, a leading interdisciplinary research centre championing issues around racism, ethnicity and migration, and The Bauman Institute, an international centre dedicated to teaching and research in social and critical theory.
  • Gain specialist knowledge in decoloniality, social theory and the political and cultural problems they touch upon.
  • Develop an interdisciplinary understanding of how decolonial theoretical frameworks can be used within contemporary social research.
  • Tailor the programme to your interests, with optional modules covering culture, gender, religion and politics in global contexts.
  • Prepare for careers in research, media, development agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), local authority and government roles, campaigning and political lobbying, and more.

Course details

You’ll study core modules during the year that introduce you to decolonial and social thought, and how these help understand the challenges that society faces both nationally and globally. You’ll focus more specifically on the process of social and decolonial theory formation and debate.

You’ll have a choice of optional modules that allow you to specialise in the areas of particular interest to you. You can choose to study themes such as postcolonial feminism, or look at issues such as global inequalities, culture, gender, religion and politics and multiculturalism.

At the end of the programme, you’ll submit your dissertation. This is an independent piece of research on a related topic of your choice, which will allow you to demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during the year.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

Decolonial and Social Thought (30 credits) – The aim of the module is to introduce you to the intellectual kernel of decolonial thinking, and how it disrupts and/or validates the sociological imagination. It will foster a conceptual approach to this body of theoretical work, in order to allow you to develop a critical understanding of contemporary social and political life.

The module aims to extend insights from the decolonial away from the pedagogic to the consideration of the philosophies and problems of the world. In doing so, it broadens the range of examples through which we understand the world and our place in it.

Racism, Decoloniality and Migration (30 credits) – This module provides the skills and knowledge to enable you to develop an advanced understanding of theoretical and conceptual debates, as applied to particular substantive cases and examples within decolonial, racism, 'race' ethnicity and migration studies. The module will provide an advanced knowledge and understanding of racism, racial inequality and diversity in the context of global migrations.

This will involve the acquisition of advanced knowledge relative to patterns of continuity and change in racism, ethnicity and migration, and an awareness of the relationship between ethnic and cultural diversity and social inequality in relation to specific cases in a comparative context.

Dissertation (60 credits) – The dissertation module will support you through the process of designing and conducting a substantial piece of independent research. It will allow you to explore your own interests relating to decoloniality and social theory with more depth.

Year 1 optional modules

You will choose 60 credits of optional modules from a range of related topics, typically including:

Theorising Gender (30 credits) – You will explore the key concepts and approaches that constitute contemporary gender theory as a means of understanding the ways in which gender relations are both enacted and resisted. The module addresses questions of race and intersectionality, theories of difference and a range of approaches to the theorisation of gender, giving you a foundation from which to consider questions of social diversity, division, inequality, change and resistance.

Inequalities: Exploring Causes, Consequences and Interventions (30 credits) – This module bridges disciplinary divides to provide a detailed understanding of the ways in which social inequality operates across diverse communities and contexts, at the national and international level. It offers insight into the character, causes and consequences of social inequality, as well as forms of resistance and policy responses to it.

Popular Culture: World Politics, Society and Culture (30 credits) – Popular culture is everywhere and integral to the political world in which we live. Popular culture is being increasingly debated both socially and academically in terms of their impact and meaning.

This module contributes to this debate, offering a combination of reflective thinking on how we understand the political, social and cultural impact of popular culture. You’ll take part in considered debate on how we might better understand the messages contained within today’s popular culture.

Global Inequalities and Development (30 credits) – The module intends to give you an understanding of why and how the world’s inequalities produce advantages and disadvantages in development. It starts by discussing the origins of development, economic and social factors and the political inequalities that lay the foundations for discussions about poverty, education, health, gender and the environment. The module ends by discussing if and how social movements can claim rights, and thereby challenge global inequalities.

Religion, Politics and Society (30 credits) – This module offers a critical analysis of sociological, theological and philosophical accounts of the social and political dimensions of religion, and how these relate to different models of public and private life. An exploration of the emergence of distinctively 'private' and 'public' realms of social action and experience is pursued in relation to developments in Christian belief and practice.

Following this, it examines how political discourses concerning the balance between individual and corporate rights on the one hand – and public responsibilities on the other – continue to be grounded in a number of highly specific theological, sociological and philosophical debates surrounding secularism and modernity.

Muslims, Multiculturalism and the State (30 credits) – Concepts discussed in this module include religion, ethnicity, identity, globalisation, multiculturalism and the nation. The topics studied cover mosques, their function, funding and the Islamisation of public space; the state, multiculturalism and education, including Muslim schools; differences of gender and generation in Muslim communities; the Rushdie Affair, Islamophobia and the law; British-Muslim links to a global Islamic community; and conversion to Islam.

Black Internationalism (30 credits) – This module explores the boundaries and intersections between models of black nationalism and black internationalism in the twentieth century. It focuses on the connections between liberation movements within nation states across the African diaspora and developing models of black internationalism. As such, it engages with ideas of home and homeland, transnationalism and diaspora.

Quantitative Research Methods (15 credits) – The module takes a practical approach to quantitative research methods and its application to social research. Topics covered include research design and quantitative methods, ethical issues, sampling, questionnaire construction, official statistics, analysis of large data sets, hypothesis construction, descriptive statistics and bivariate and multivariate analysis.

Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits) – This module focuses on the distinctive contribution to empirical engagement that qualitative research methods allow. In this module you will develop an understanding of the generation, management and analysis of qualitative data, as well as the theoretical and epistemological issues informing qualitative research.

You will be required to critically engage with questions of sampling, ethics and fieldwork relationships in qualitative research, using qualitative research data, concrete research problems, and considering contemporary social issues through group work and individual projects.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Decolonial Thought and Social Theory MSc in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods to help you make the most of your studies. Depending on the modules you take these may include lectures, seminars, workshops, online learning and tutorials.

Independent study is still a crucial element of this programme, allowing you to develop your skills, pursue specific research interests and form your own ideas.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Core modules are assessed using essays, as well as your final dissertation. Depending on the optional modules you choose you may also be assessed using research reports, project work, presentations, literature and book reviews, among other methods. If you select research methods modules, you’ll also be expected to engage with some data analysis in your essays.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent in a social science, or related subject.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications.

Please note that meeting the entry requirements of this course doesn't guarantee an offer of a place.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Politics and Society (6 weeks) and Language for Social Sciences and Arts: Politics and Society (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

International – Friday 28 June 2024

UK – Friday 16 August 2024

If you intend to apply for funding, you should submit an application for a place on your chosen course at least one month before any specific scholarship deadline.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information we will need include:

  • Original or certified copies of your transcripts

  • Original or certified copies of your degree certificate

  • Original or certified copy of your IELTS/TOEFL results (if English is not your first language).

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions Office



UK: £11,750 (Total)

International: £24,500 (Total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

The School of Sociology and Social Policy usually offers a number of scholarships each year. Find out more on the School's scholarships page.

Career opportunities

This course prepares you for a career in policy, academia and applied careers across the sectors. The interdisciplinary nature of the course equips you with specialist skills that can be applied across a variety of potential careers.

Graduates may pursue careers in policy research, development agencies and NGOs, local authority and government roles, campaigning and political lobbying or can continue into the academic profession by undertaking research at PhD level.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.