The Institute of Polish Culture offers B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. studies in Cultural Studies and Social Arts. Our B.A. program is structured around two interconnecting lines of inquiry: one focusing on anthropology, the other on Polish cultural history. The four main anthropological courses include: anthropology of culture, anthropology of word, anthropology of performance and anthropology of visual culture. The cultural history courses follow a chronological path, starting with Old Polish History and ending with Polish history of the 20th century (analyzed through various media of cultural representations). The B.A. curriculum is complemented by courses on literary theory, logics, sociology of culture, history of philosophy and a wide range of elective courses, which focus on particular cultural practices and representations.

The Institute of Polish Culture offers two M.A. programs:

+M.A. in Cultural Studies Visual Culture specialization

The Visual Culture specialization is addressed to students with B.A. degrees in the field of humanities (especially cultural anthropology, philosophy, sociology, history and art), interested in the anthropology and image theory, as well as history of visual media. The program fits into the theoretical framework developed in the last years in the most significant academic centers around the world involved in the study of images (visual culture studies). The Visual Culture specialization is envisioned as a coherent, but heterogeneous scholarly and didactic project. Our goal is to broaden the traditional frameworks of thinking about images – the aesthetic (art history) or technological (media studies) – by adding the framework of anthropology, history of culture, sociology and philosophy. The specialization will also provide the students with critical and analytical tools, which will be used to interpret specific phenomena and events of visual culture.

The popular opinion about the progressing „visualization of culture” (since mid 20th century), even if partly justified, has to be investigated and analyzed with the use of theoretical tools. Courses within the „Visual Culture” specialization will thus ask a number of crucial questions – How does the domination of the image manifest itself? How does the image work and what are both the causes and effects of this supposed visual hegemony? In order to answer all these questions we will be investigating both commonplace, everyday practices, as well as philosophical and theoretical concepts.
Within the field of visual culture the image is understood as far more than a work of art. It is primarily a „social and cultural fact”, one of the most important factors regulating the relations between the visual field and the social field. It is also essential to emphasize the role of the gaze and the practices of seeing in the process of creating, experiencing and interpreting the phenomena of contemporary culture and postmodern philosophies of the subject. If we agree that contemporary culture is visual, then deepening and developing visual awareness is crucial, as it will not only help in the interpretation of specific images or media, but allow for a critique of culture as whole.
The goal of the „Visual Culture” specialization is to indicate and verify basic visual competences of the participant of culture in the beginning of the 21st century. That is why it is crucial to maintain a balance between theoretical, historical, analytical and practical courses. The major will prepare students for further academic work (graduate school), but also for work within the field of cultural institutions. Both areas demand a conscious, critical and productive approach to images, media and seeing. The program stimulates looking, seeing and watching culture from different perspectives and points of view.

+M.A. in Social Arts

Two-year M.A. studies at the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw

In October 2019, the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw is launching second-tier studies entitled “Social Arts”. The new course will prepare students to run and lead creative activities in various social environments and institutional contexts: in theatres, museums, culture centres, schools and other educational centres, social work homes, NGOs and as part of their individual independent practice.

Social Arts constitute a course of studies with a highly practical profile that have been designed in line with the idea “teaching through action”. What this means is that in the course of the studies, the students are involved in projects carried out collectively beyond the university walls in collaboration with different institutions and practitioners.


Framework Programme of Studies:

  • Practical classes providing anthropological knowledge and teaching critical skills, e.g. applied anthropology of culture, media in culture, ideas for social involvement, participatory art contexts;
  • Workshops where students learn and master the skill of applying specific research methods and tools inter aliaa needs analysis, community work, creative activities (e.g. through film, photography, sound or performative forms), as well as planning and financing a project;
  • Internships involving students in the operations of different institutions, organisations and communities;
  • Study trips to selected regions, towns, centres including workshops and meetings with representatives of local institutions and local communities;
  • Site-Specific Project Work entailing the execution of a participatory project at a selected local community with its participation, preceded by a needs analysis, diagnosis and consultation.
  • Diploma Project which along with a written thesis related to it constitutes a new type of MA thesis assuming the execution of a student’s individual culture animation project.
Here you can find program details [.doc]

The Course develops the following skills and abilities:

  • Research and understanding of contemporary culture;
  • Using various methods and artistic form in socially-engaging projects;
  • Ability to work in different communities and with groups of participants diversified in terms of gender, age, social status, place of residence, etc.;
  • Planning, organising and financing culture-oriented projects.


Admission requirements and procedure:

  • BA in any field;
  • Command of the English language at level B2;
  • Submission of a motivation letter presenting prior experience of the applicant in the areas of art, culture and social work;
  • Positive evaluation of the admission interview encompassing an interpretation of the practice described in the motivation letter.

The Social Arts course is launched as part of the University’s Integrated Development Programme financing, among others, the design of innovative study programmes at the University of Warsaw.


The new course in Social Arts combines the core components of the instruction concept right in its name: it is aimed at teaching practical skills of applying tools of artistic expression (visual arts, film, photography, performative arts, music, sound, etc.) in community-based activities which in order to be effective and efficient requires a theoretical background permitting the future animators the identification of the social and cultural mechanisms they will be working with. The tools of artistic expressions may be used both to perform an analysis of the social situation, which is necessary when undertaking activities of crucial significance to a local community as well as creative activities triggering change.

Of core importance to the programme of studies is the close integration of contemporary culture theory with practice and the endorsement of the idea of “teaching through action” which translates into not only a large share of practical classes but also the engagement of students in actual projects carried out beyond the walls of the university in collaboration with institutions and practitioners. The methodology learned will be instantly put to the test in actual situations, under the watchful eye of experienced animators and artists. When we designed the programme of the course in such manner we relied to a large extent on our prior experience and the tried and tested teaching and learning methods applied as part of the Culture Animation specialisation.

The course programme is grounded on five core forms of classes which together are aimed at achieving the fundamental objectives of the course:


(1) Theoretical classes (KNOWLEDGE) – classes, seminars on the condition of contemporary culture and its understanding – methodology applied: lectures, moderated discussions, presentations, group work, case studies, problem-oriented debates; oral and written analysis; papers;

(2) Workshops (KNOWLEDGE in touch with PRACTICE) – cover teaching analytical and interpretation skills related to social diagnosis; preparing students to apply project-based methodology (project planning, execution, evaluation and management) with account for the map of culture institutions in Poland and the rest of Europe; creative workshops permitting students to put various forms of artistic and media expression to practical use (methodology applied: group work; case studies; practical classes; field work, learning through acting – performance of assignments in specific local communities; project-based methods of work);

(3) Study Trips which are a special form of workshop-based work (teaching through practice) – multidimensional discovery of a specific institution, community or region from the angle of social and cultural needs and the projects carried out there; learning the specifics of operation of culture institutions and site-specific projects;

(4) Internships (INTERNSHIP under the supervision of experts); involvement in the operation of a selected institution or organisation which carried on cultural, artistic or social activities.

(5) Project (PROJECT centred around OWN WORK) – the diploma project and thesis, similarly to the entire programme, integrates theory with practice; it consists in the execution of a student’s own culture-oriented activity and a critical, reflective discussion of the project in written form (project-based methodology).

Institute of Polish Culture
Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel.+48 22 552 03 24
22 552 26 04

University of Warsaw
ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel. +48 22 552 00 00
NIP 525-001-12-66

Faculty of Polish Studies

Project and realisation: