This degree explores the history and culture of cities, from the perspectives of social and political history, cultural history and literature. The main focus is on the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries, but options on urbanism in the ancient world may also be avialable. London – the city in which most Birkbeck students live and work – is examined both for its own interest and as the starting point for wider comparative study. London's culture is characterised equally by depth and diversity; for centuries it has been the centre of political change and social transformation, with an unprecedented mix of modern cultures and approaches to metropolitan life. It has been important to the development of England at the British state, but it is also a crucial component of empire and has for centuries been a multicultural and multi-ethnic centre. Living in London has always been a challenging and formative experience. The programme explores these and other themes in the development of cities across a long span of time. Students are encouraged to gain a broad general background, to make a critical assessment of different appraches to the study of cities, and to undertake a detailed study of a particular topic or subject area. The core course considers urban historiography and examines the way in which cities are shaped through writing; key texts illuminate aspects of the city at a particular point in time and the perspectives and preoccupations of the writers. London is a central focus here, but other cities and historiographies are considered. In your choice of option modules, you may decide either to study a range of cities, or to stay focused on London. In the latter case, the degree awarded will be an MA Cities and Cultures (London Studies).