Postgraduate Taught

MA/PgDip/PgCert Applied Arts and Social Practice

With growing interest in applied arts and social practice and increasing career opportunities, this MA will allow students to graduate with a better understanding of how artists, theatre practitioners and other creatives apply their skills in social contexts, third sector organisations, public health, social welfare, education and criminal justice. At the same time, it will give them the practical and enterprise skills to develop a sustainable career in their chosen field.

The combination of modules on this course makes it unique in Scotland, and the flexible study options and diverse curriculum make it particularly suitable if you are already working in the sector or wish to do so when studying.


Why QMU?

  • You’ll be part of an international cohort of students working closely and collaboratively with staff, gaining the optimum balance of theoretical and practical learning.
  • You’ll benefit from a range of professional expertise as well as field trips to key cultural organisations and festivals across Scotland. 
  • The combination of modules on this MA makes it unique in Scotland.
  • The Edinburgh location facilitates rapid access to community and arts organisations.

Course overview

The MA Applied Arts and Social Practice focuses on the applied use of creative activities. It provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to best prepare them for applying the arts and creativity to areas such as third-sector organisations, public health, social welfare, education or criminal justice. It also aims to provide students with the enterprise skills to establish and market themselves as applied arts practitioners in a professional context.

The current team’s expertise stems from community arts, applied theatre and socially engaged practice, and we define applied art as ‘creative processes and skills that are applied to a specific purpose or function.’ This could include any creative practice (such as theatre, art, music, dance or puppetry, just to name a few) that does not exist in traditional spaces (such as museums, theatres or galleries) but rather is based alongside and with individuals and communities in the public domain.

You may find the course particularly suitable if you have already worked within social practice and want to broaden your understanding of your professional social practice. It also works well for people with significant workplace experience who want to gain a formal qualification in a flexible manner. The course is also suitable for recent graduates of fine, contemporary or performing arts courses especially those who have developed a set of artistic skills and want to learn how to apply them to projects in a social context.

Over the past three decades within the UK, there has been a significant and sustained growth of the arts within a social context. Indeed, the current draft Cultural Strategy in Scotland looks at embedding artistic and creative practices across numerous sectors, inviting artists, theatre makers, musicians and all creative practitioners to be productive within industry, business, education and social settings.

Concurrently, the arts are becoming more important within health and wellbeing contexts and the recent national report ‘Creative Health: Arts for Health and Wellbeing’ calls for artists to play a vital role in the social health and well-being of the population to the extent that GPs in England can prescribe artistic activities in order to tackle social issues such as obesity, loneliness and depression. This MA will provide qualified students to service the growing demand for this type of creative practice.

Exit awards

MA (180 credits)/PgDip (120 credits)/PgCert (60 credits)


You can opt to study for the full MA, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching comprises a stimulating combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, case studies, simulation exercises, field trips and projects, as well as a period of practice-based learning. Assessment throughout the course will take a variety of forms, including essays, reports, exams, group and individual presentations, as well as a practice-based dissertation for the final MA component. 

Teaching hours and attendance

Your specific timetable will depend on whether you are studying full-time, part-time or an individual module, but all teaching on the occurs on Thursdays and Fridays, and students will need to attend one or both of these days, depending on their chosen study route.

Each module involves approximately 25 hours of face-to-face teaching. This will be a mixture of weekly classes combined with a series of intensive study days, as well as the possibility of some field trips outside of regular teaching time. Timetables are normally available around one month before you commence your studies.

Class sizes

Normally, we would expect around 8 to 12 students enrolling on the course each year.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

Teaching staff have extensive professional experience and networks to draw from including local and national bodies. We also have formal partnerships with a variety of organisations such as Out of the Blue and North Edinburgh Arts that students can access as part of their learning. Our location in Edinburgh also means rapid access to a variety of communities and arts organisations to work with, as well as the opportunity to travel further afield across Scotland and the UK due to our excellent travel connections.

Teaching staff

View the profiles of the staff teaching on this course

Dr Andy Henry

Irvine Allan

Dr Anthony Schrag

Dr Victoria Bianchi


For the PgDip and the MA, you complete the following modules:

Practice as Research (20 credits)- This module  provides the theoretical framework to explore how the student’s own practice can be framed as research, and as such is helpful in framing the dissertation project. It presents reflective opportunities by exploring case studies and live projects, as well as the student’s own experimentation. This module also receives insights from guest speakers and experts in the field who can speak of their own practical experience of engaging in applied arts/social practice projects.

Applied Arts: Theories and Histories (20 credits)- Taking a historical perspective as a grounding, this module examines the theoretical justification of Applied Arts, using case studies and past projects. It grounds the students thinking about the types of histories and legacies that can be drawn from to complicate the practices of engagement

Social Practice: Working With People (20 credits)- This module examines the practical skills required to engage with people, examining concepts such as dialogue, inter-personal skills, group facilitation skills. The most practical of the modules, students get to try out and engage with groups and communities in order to expand their skillsets and experience in working with people. 

Fundraising, Finance and Development (20 credits) - This module will equip students with a critical understanding of the principles and practices of fundraising, development and financial management. The assessments invite students to examine financial support mechanisms (eg, completing a funding application or designing a sponsorship pack) as well as financial literacy exam. This module marks our course as quite unique in this regards. 

Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects (20 credits) - This module will provide students with a critical understanding of the principal skills, techniques and practices necessary to manage and market a cultural project. This modules looks at the practical realities of managing and marketing cultural projects and learning occurs around hypothetical projects that the students plan and market in groups. 

The Only Way is Ethics: Art Representation and Ethics (20 credits) - The module is designed to develop critical and practical skills needed for students to engage with the public in the delivery of cultural projects. It looks at examples from history as well as contemporaneous projects that engage with people at the ethical edges of participation to challenge the student to develop their own ethical frameworks. 

For the MA, you will also complete a final practice based project (60 credits).

For the PgCert, you need to complete three modules, of which at least TWO from the following

Applied Arts: Theories and Histories of Applied Art

Social Practice: Working with People 

Practice As Research 

And/or ONE of the following: 

Fundraising, Development and Finance 

Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects (20 credits)

The Only Way is Ethic: Art, Representation and Ethics 

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2021) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.

Single modules for CPD

Available. Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact Dr Anthony Schrag for more information.


We require students to take up industry-based learning opportunities where they can put theory into practice. Although we support students to find opportunities, you are responsible for securing your own arrangements in line with your personal interests. We have numerous connections across a wide variety of organisations and we are particularly well considered by our industry peers in the cultural sector. If you are already working in the sector, you can use your existing employment as the location for your industry based-learning.


This course aims to help students develop their own freelance career, but will also meet the growing needs of organisations with community-based outreach departments. Even though the course is relatively new, our current graduates have already gained work with, for example, the Lyceum Theatre, or have set up their own organisations, or are working in the field as successful freelance artists. 


Entry requirements

A UK honours degree (or equivalent) in a creative subject area OR significant work experience in arts-led community projects.

You will be required to outline your creative practice as part of the application so that we can ensure we have suitable expertise and facilities to support the type of work you wish to undertake. If you don't have an honours degree, we may ask you to provide this in the form of a portfolio.

International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score less than 6.0.

Application deadline

For International applicants only (Jan 2023 start):  Applications submitted after Sunday 20th November 2022 will automatically be considered for the next available intake after January which will be in September 2023. 

More information and contacts

Contact Admissions or Dr Anthony Schrag

We would be delighted for you to visit us on campus to find out more about our MA Applied Arts and Social Practice course.

Fees and transitionary scholarships for postgraduate EU students in 21/22 and 22/23

As part of our management of the Brexit transition, for many of our courses, including this one, we have introduced an EU transitional scholarship for EU full-time postgraduate students commencing their studies on campus in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23. This provides a 40% discount on international tuition fees. The scholarship is available to EU students for whom the international fee rate applies and covers the courses marked with a # in the Postgraduate Fees – Full-Time Study section of our Fees page. This transitional scholarship is not applicable to students from the Republic of Ireland, who will continue to be eligible for the home fee rate.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2022/23 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Teaching staff is subject to change.

Course Overview

At QMU with some industry-based learning
1 year full-time OR 2-7 years part-time
Start Date
September 2022
Start Date
January 2023
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding

Engage with the Team