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MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management

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  • Introduction
  • Key details
  • Entry requirements
  • Fees
  • Modules
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- Small cohort of students working closely and collaboratively with staff.
- Range of guest lecturers from key cultural organisations and festivals.
- Option to complete a business plan rather than a dissertation for the MA.
- The only postgraduate course of its kind in Scotland.

Within a rapidly changing domestic and international environment, the work of arts and cultural managers is becoming more complex and significant. The creative industries are growing rapidly and patterns of cultural work are changing. Cultural organisations and festivals are in a period of fundamental, pervasive and long-term change; managers must deal with a host of dramatic, often contradictory demands and challenges. This leads to a situation where there is a need for graduates with more holistic and integrated perspectives regarding the management of cultural organisations and the political, economic, social and environmental conditions in which they function. This course has been developed in response to this need and is rooted in a belief that great leaders in the cultural sector will recognise the value of effective management while acknowledging that approaches may need to be adapted to meet the particularities of cultural organisations and festivals. Through encouraging you to become critically reflective, the course will develop your knowledge of the contemporary issues affecting the management of arts organisations and festivals while equipping you wi th the practical management skills that are essential for developing a career in the field. While not intended as practical vocational training a number of assignments are orientated towards developing the knowledge and skills required to become an effective practitioner in the field. In addition, students are encouraged to arrange and undertake practical experience within cultural organisations to complement their studies.

This MA is designed as a conversion degree and we welcome applicants from non-business related subjects. It is suitable for both graduates who wish to add a vocational management emphasis to their first degree and those with equivalent professional qualifications or experience. It is likely to be of interest to those who studied the arts and humanities at undergraduate level or those with significant workplace experience who would like to gain a formal qualification in a flexible manner.

Block taught PgCert Arts, Festival and Cultural Management

We are now offering a PgCert in Arts, Festival and Cultural management delivered via a block-taught route. This route is ideal for those currently working in the sector and are keen to develop new skills and knowledge but are unable to commit to full-time weekly study. The course is delivered on campus in four blocks of four days spread across the year. These intensive blocks of teaching are planned to be delivered at the end of September, the beginning of November, the end of January and the beginning of March.

The course will stimulate your understanding and develop your knowledge of contemporary issues affecting the management of arts organisations and festivals. It balances practice with theory to enable students to develop a broader and deeper understanding of the processes of arts management and is designed to support your career development.

Students undertaking the course complete four modules, each picked for their practical and immediate relevance to those working in a cultural organisation. These modules are:
¦ Managing Cultural Projects and Festivals
¦ Strategic Management and Finance
¦ Marketing Cultural Organisations and Festivals
¦ Fundraising and Development for Cultural Organisations and Festivals

There is also an option to replace one module with a period of personal reflective learning in the workplace. After completion of the block taught PgCert, students have the option to complete the remainder of the MA programme on a part-time basis the following year.

EXIT AWARDS: MA (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)

Delivery: At QMU with some industry-based learning

Single Modules: Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest

Duration: Full-time:1 year; Part time: 2 years

Start date: September and January

Application deadline: 1 December (for January 2016 start) & August (for September 2016 start)

Teaching, learning and assessment: Teaching comprises a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, case studies, simulation exercises, and projects. You will also be required to arrange a period of industry based learning. Your performance on the course will be assessed by essays, reports, exams, presentations and a dissertation or project (MA only). Normally, there are around 30 students undertaking the course each year.

Teaching hours and attendance: Each module will require you to attend classes and carry out independent work. Most modules consist of two to three hours of class time each week of the semester. Where possible, all teaching takes place over two days per week. Your specific timetable will depend on whether you study full or part time. Flexible study options and a diverse curriculum mean that this course is suited to both those already working in the arts and those who are looking to start a career in the sector.

Links with industry/professional bodies: Part of our strength comes from our location; being based in Edinburgh means that the course has been developed over time in co-operation with key national cultural agencies and other bodies with a strategic interest in the development of arts organisations and festivals. Our location in the ‘festival city’ also allows for strong practical links between the course and the many arts, festival and cultural organisations based in and around Edinburgh, across Scotland and the UK.

A UK honours degree or equivalent OR significant work experience in cultural organisations or festivals.

International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to take an IELTS test receiving an overall score of 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Home/EU - full-time: £4500 per year

Home/EU - part-time: £475 per 15 credit module

Home/EU - part-time, dissertation: £950

International - full-time: £11500 per year

International - part-time: £1250 per 15 credit module

International - part-time dissertation: £2500

Fees information: In a bid to support skills development within the cultural sector in Scotland, QMU offers a limited number of bursaries to staff from selected Scottish cultural organisations in order to support them in undertaking the MA part-time. A limited number of fully funded places are also available to students starting in January 2016. For further information on eligibility, contact David Stevenson.

Scholarships: - More information about scholarships for international students

Funding Information for International Students:
Visit the International section of the website.

Course Fees:
Visit the Fees section of the website. -
Graduates of the University who hold a verified QMU undergraduate or postgraduate award and who are admitted to a postgraduate award of QMU will be eligible for a 10% discount on the published fees.

Sources of Funding:
Visit the Funding section of the website.

15 credits: Critical Issues in Cultural Management and Policy/ Managing Cultural Projects and Festivals*/ Marketing Cultural Organisations and Festivals*/ Strategic Management and Finance*/ Fundraising and Development in Cultural Organisations and Festivals*/ People Management, Governance and Law/ Experiential Learning/ Understanding Research

If studying for an MA, you will also complete a dissertation or project (60 credits).

* modules taught on Block Taught PgCert

The modules listed here are correct at the time of posting (June 16), but are subject to change. In the event that modules have to change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact to students.

You will be qualified for a broad range of management positions within a wide spectrum of cultural organisations and festivals. Many career opportunities are open to you and previous graduates have gone on to work in theatres, performing arts organisations, galleries, local government, and cultural agencies. In addition, many now work in festivals within the UK, Europe and internationally. Potential careers might include producing, fundraising, marketing, programming, or audience development, as well as many other roles across the cultural industries and all professions requiring skills in effective management.

Read Sheila Murray - Board Director of Creative Scotland press release.

Case study:
Shakira Bourne, MA Arts and Cultural Management*
The benefits of the MA became apparent as soon as I returned to Jamaica. Using the skills I acquired from my internship where I managed a Fringe venue and was project assistant for a children’s theatre production, combined with theory from the arts marketing and project management modules, I was able to complete a business plan for a new children’s musical theatre boot camp. I would never have been given these opportunities had I not completed the MA Arts and Cultural Management. Its strengths are its mix of practice and theory, combined with direct insights into how to tackle the challenges of the arts industry from expert practitioners.

Sharon May, MA Arts and Cultural Management*
I was already working as an Arts Manager when I started the course and joined to support my professional development, hoping to fill gaps I had identified within my CV in order to increase my employability and help advance my career. It worked! I successfully secured a new role, thanks to being able to use what I learnt from the course on the application and at interview. I originally thought I would only undertake a couple of modules, as skills development. However having found the lectures inspiring, informative and so useful to my work, I decided to complete the full MA part-time and keep my full-time job. The support from the tutors has been fantastic. Working full-time while having a young family and balancing study is difficult, but the tutors are understanding to these demands and do their best to support you. Without their support I would not have been able to complete the course. Being able to take modules individually is great - the study routes are so flexible they fit in well around my work and family commitments.

Helen Terry, MA Arts and Cultural Management*
To quote Steve Jobs and at the risk of offending grammar pedants, I can honestly say that this course taught me to ‘Think Different’.

Coming back into education after a long career in the media was a daunting prospect. However by the second seminar I was starting to re-evaluate my working practices and learning to embrace new ways of thinking.

The structure of the course allows a student the flexibility to focus on areas of the cultural sector that are specific to their own professional development. At the same time it gives them a practical set of tools that can be used in almost any contemporary workplace. It’s not all theory either: visiting speakers from a diverse range of practices provided illuminating insights into the nooks and crannies of Scotland’s arts organisations. If I ever need to hang an exhibition of 18th century portraits or lobby Government I now know where to start and how to get it right.

The beauty of the course structure is that it allows students to understand both hands-on management and contemporary cultural theory. Your final project can be based upon either, or both. This freedom allows students to either build upon their existing skills or, like me, to test new grounds.

By the end of my course a fellow student had lodged a grant application for her own festival and, after a successful placement, had been asked to return to work with Sadler’s Wells. Both projects were undertaken as part of the course. The tutorial staff actively encourages this strategic approach to education and give exemplary levels of support to those who want to embrace the practical applications of their newly acquired knowledge.

Katherine Shreves, MA Arts and Cultural Management*
I came from the USA to study at QMU and what attracted me was the holistic way the course is approached. Lectures are taught by experienced academics and arts professionals, and this has allowed me to gain a deep and nuanced understanding of the issues relevant to arts management today. Each module is also carefully crafted to allow space for students to pursue their own unique interests and ideas.

*For entry from 2014 onwards, the course has been changed and renamed as MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management.

Jennifer Orr - Deputy Orchestra Manager at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO)
Immediately before studying at QMU, I worked in the cultural sector at the National Museum of Scotland and had experience in high-end customer service and hospitality, having also briefly worked in the hotel and catering industries. However, with an undergraduate degree in music performance I was keen to find employment in the performing arts sector and hoped that further study would help make this transition between jobs possible.

I had been applying for work within the arts management sector but had little success as most jobs required relevant experience of working directly in the sector. The course at QMU offered a work placement module which allowed me to gain invaluable experience working for an arts organisation. The practical element to each of the modules appealed to me as the assignments were based on real, life-like tasks that you would find as part of a job in the arts. For example completing a real funding application, putting together a marketing plan for a new arts event and analysing current arts policies or strategic plans.

The course covers such a variety of different topics that it gives you a thorough introduction to each key aspect of managing an arts organisation. My main interest was in the classical music industry and the flexible nature of the course allowed me to tailor my individual assignments to this area whilst still gaining a holistic understanding of the arts and cultural sector. I met the course leader and some of the teaching staff at an open evening and found they are all still actively involved in various areas of the arts and cultural sector which meant that the content of the course was current, relevant and forward thinking. During the course there was also valuable contact with arts management practitioners, some who led parts of the course or came in as guest speakers, as well as the personal experience and knowledge shared by the QMU Staff.

My QMU degree has definitely helped me get to where I am today. First of all, the work placement module was key for me getting my current job with the RSNO. Whilst my placement was in a different department at the RSNO, I was able to become familiar with the organisation and its values which helped during the interview stages, not to mention I also had an in-house referee!

The style and thoroughness of the Masters course at QMU also appealed to my current employers; they liked the way the course trained me to think critically and question things, which they recognised as a quality I could bring to the job. For the RSNO, having someone with up to date teaching on current affairs in the sector was also attractive and the contacts that I had gained during the course could be potentially valuable to them also.


further information:

0131 474 0000 or
David Stevenson
+44(0)131 474 0000

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last modified 11/11/2015
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