Master of Cultural Studies (Leuven)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The Master in Cultural Studies addresses different facets of culture as a socially embedded practice. Formed from a thorough appreciation of cultural expressions such as literature, fine arts, dance, heritage and events, and their translation into a diversity of media formats, the program tries to connect theoretical reflection with practical realization via an apprenticeship in the cultural sector.

What is the program all about? 

‘Cultural studies’ refers to a specific type of critical analysis and interpretation of culture, looking into how people construct and participate in everyday life. It studies and compares the meaning, political power and the social impact of varied cultural practices worldwide. The KU Leuven team is proud of its longstanding reputation as an active contributor and specialist in this field.

The term ‘cultural studies’ also refers to the study of cultural policy at all levels of policy-making in the public, and more often non-profit sectors. Smart cultural policies are anchored by intelligent practices and legal frameworks. This master’s program provides a research-based approach to both the design and the application of these smart cultural policies. 


The master places an emphasis on the following:  

  • Cultural theory and concepts.
  • Applied narratives.
  • Art, media, and performance.
  • Contemporary culture.
  • Interdisciplinary objects of study and methodologies.
  • Project-based learning.

You can choose between two trajectories within the program:

  • The 'creative practices' track focuses on contemporary art and culture creation, across the boundaries of genres and media, with a lot of attention for the creative industries.
  • The 'cultural memory and identity' track focuses on the impact of the cultural past on the contemporary cultural landscape, and the relationship between culture and forms of identity.

Is this the right program for me? 

  • You should have a thorough knowledge of various sectors and aspects of contemporary culture, as demonstrated by your bachelor-level studies.
  • You should be able to demonstrate good writing skills (in English), as demonstrated by excellent scores on an English-proficiency test.
  • You should have a marked ability and eagerness to explore a wide range of learning formats, including both for individual and group work.


The Master of Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary program that aims at preparing the student for a wide range of executive functions in the cultural field (cultural mediation, criticism, media, heritage). In order to achieve this goal, the program offers a combination of theoretical and practical modules.

At the end of the program, graduates:

  • Have in-depth knowledge of the structure of the cultural field and the aims and functions of cultural policy in Flanders (to a lesser extent) and Belgium/Europe (to a larger extent);
  • Are fit for employment in a cultural institution or organization;
  • Are aware of the current definitions of culture and the theoretical debates on these definitions;
  • Are capable of writing an individual research report;
  • Have developed a solid scientific attitude towards the major methodological aspects and issues in the field of cultural studies.

Career opportunities

As both a hands-on and theoretically oriented program, the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies prepares students for careers in a wide range of fields. A great many of our graduates become public servants and cultural policy officers at all levels of government (local, regional, national, international); others enter into the broad field of the creative industries (music, television, print, and online media).

A fair number of students combine their studies (in 2 years) with a teachers' training program, which prepares them for a career in teaching. In addition, the program's regularly updated internship database provides a good overview of the possibilities open to students of cultural studies.

Students who are eager to find their way into the cultural sector should take into account that careers in culture rarely deliver traditional nine-to-five jobs and competition for appointments is often fiercely competitive. Special qualities such as passion, enthusiasm, creativity, flexibility, teamwork and good verbal and communicative skills are crucial for success. This program aims to hone these transferable qualities in addition to the specialized academic framework.

Start your career, during your studies

The Student Career Center is happy to put you on the right track towards your first work experience. The center also coaches you in the search for an interesting job and helps you with job interviews. For students wanting to start their own business KU Leuven also has Lcie, the KU Leuven community that encourages students with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.

Don’t know where to start? The Student Career Center's databases contain offers for jobs, volunteer work, innovation projects, and student jobs. You can also visit one of the events organized by the Career Center.

Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked ... Read More

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked among the top 100 in the world. Read less
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