Postgraduate Taught

Arts, Festival and Cultural Management - MA

Are you interested in shaping the future of the arts and cultural sector? This long established and forward-thinking MA in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management will allow you to gain a better understanding of the management of cultural organisations and the individual factors that influence the environment in which they function.

The course will appeal to a range of individuals and will qualify you for a broad range of management positions within a wide spectrum of cultural organisations and festivals. 

It may interest those already working in the sector who want to gain a formal qualification as well as undergraduates, of perhaps Arts and Humanities courses, who have not studied management previously and who are looking for a career change. 

The course is delivered both full and part-time with start dates in September and January and offers the flexibility to develop your skills and knowledge whilst in employment. 

Why QMU?

  • Flexible study options that are particularly suitable if you are already working in the sector or wish to do so when studying: Available full-time, part-time or by single module study, you will be able to study around your work commitments. The course offers both a September or January start each year. 
  • A course that will assist you in your current role or create a route to a new career: You will be qualified for a broad range of management positions within a wide spectrum of cultural organisations and festivals.
  • Our small class sizes are perfect for sharing experiences and fostering new ideas: Enjoy the support of staff and encouragement of fellow students. While lecturers are experts in their fields, we believe it is vitally important to have a strong community of learners around you these will no doubt be important to your learning and development, but also as future colleagues and support networks.
  • Unique course content designed to prepare you for this broad sector: Our focus on the relationship between theory and practice aims to ensure that you become a reflective practitioner that is not only aware of the insights of festivals and cultural management, but that you are aware of the contextual realities of this practice.
  • Teaching team with wide ranging expertise: Our staff have a wealth of experience in both the theory and practice of cultural management, and all come from very different perspectives, giving our students a broad overview of the subject. The lecturers have collectively been involved in such activities as writing national policies; guiding international research; leading cultural projects and businesses; and advising government on cultural policy. Our team’s research has also been published widely - including several books on the subject - and we have written reports for national bodies on a wide variety of subjects. As such, we hold significant and broad knowledge about the sector to share with students. 
  • Great location for studying and future employment in this area: Our location, just six minutes by train from the heart of the world’s greatest festival city, is sure to enrich your learning experience and provide many opportunities for work-based experience and future employment.
  • You’ll be part of an international cohort of students: Students on this course come from across the globe and sharing your experiences will proof to be of real benefit.
  • Optimum balance of theoretical and practical learning: The course offers a variety of learning experiences, including industry-based learning, which are sure to enrich your studies. Real-world assignments are designed to develop and consolidate your new key skills.
  • Industry input and our professional links ensures you are up to date with key developments: 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.

Interview with MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management student, Shuyi Hsieh

Arts, Festival and Cultural Management (MA): More information and what you will achieve

By encouraging you to become critically reflective, the course will develop your knowledge of the contemporary issues affecting the management of arts organisations and festivals and equip you with the practical management skills that are essential for developing a career in the field. Mindful of the need for students to develop vocational skills, 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 required to arrange and undertake practical experience within cultural organisations to complement their studies. Our networks to industry are very strong, and resourceful students can utilise these links to develop their own career within the cultural sector.

How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

You can opt to study for the full MA (180 credits), a PgDip (120 credits) or a PgCert (60 credits).

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. We also offer a block-taught PgCert Arts Management. Contact Anthony Schrag for more information on single module study.

Teaching, learning and assessment

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

Placements/Industry-based learning

The course does not require a formal placement, but we do require students to take up industry-based learning opportunities to assist their learning and to put the theory into practice. These industry-based learning opportunities are offered by many of the world-famous organisations that are based in Edinburgh (eg the Edinburgh International Festival, Fruitmarket Gallery, Lyceum Theatre). Although we support students to find opportunities, you are required to secure your own arrangements in line with your personal interests. As we are in Edinburgh, the world’s first and best ‘Festival City’, there are no end of opportunities in this regards, and we are well regarded by our industry peers: many of our alumni now work in these organisations and advocate for us. If you are already working in the sector, you can use your existing employment as the site for your industry-based learning.

Teaching hours and attendance

Your specific timetable will depend on whether you are studying full-time, part-time or a single module, but all teaching on the course occurs on either a Thursday or Friday. For those undertaking part-time study, you will only be required on campus for one of these days per each year of study. Each module involves around 20 hours of face-to-face teaching per 10-week semester. Timetables will normally be available to matriculated students around one month before you commence your studies.

Class sizes

Normally, there are around 30 to 35 students enrolling on the course each year.

Teaching staff

You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. You can also click on the staff profiles immediately below. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change. 

Dr Anthony Schrag (Co-programme Leader)

Alice McGrath (Co-programme Leader)

Rachel Blanche

Professor Rebecca Finkel

Professor David Stevenson

Modules

  • Strategy and Sustainability within Cultural Organisations (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Debates in Cultural Policy (20 credits)
  • Designing Qualitative Research (20 credits)
  • Fundraising, Development and Finance (20 credits)
  • Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects (OR another relevant module from the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management) (20 credits).
  • Either: Leadership and Arts Management in Practice OR Evaluating Arts and Cultural Projects (each 20 credits)

For the MA, you will also complete the Dissertation Project (60 credits).

Module information

Strategy and Sustainability within Cultural Organisations (20 credits): This module will support students to critically reflect on economic, social, and environmental sustainability in the arts and cultural sectors and develop strategic knowledge, skills and competencies to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Contemporary Debates in Cultural Policy (20 credits): This module will provide students with a critical understanding of key cultural policy debates that impact the work of managers in the cultural and creative industries. They will look at policy in a critical manner and assessments include a short article as well as a longer essay examining the function of policy in regards to the cultural sector.

Designing Qualitative Research (20 credits): This module will prepare students to undertake a postgraduate research project by developing their knowledge and understanding of qualitative research methodologies and methods. Students will interrogate their own assumptions of knowledge production and research, and the assessment (a Lit Review and Research Proposal) can be used as a mechanism to prepare for the dissertation project

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.(Note: if you can prove you have already undertaken significant experience within this study, you can opt to take another 20 credit module from the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management)

Students should select one of the following:

Leadership and Arts Management in Practice (20 credits): This module will provide students with a critical understanding of the principles and practices of leadership and management in arts and cultural organisations and will support students to become reflective practitioners, confident in their ability to employ and adapt theory in relation to the organisational contexts in which they may work. Students will also attend field trips and receive experts in the field who will talk about their practical realities as cultural managers. This is the module that also houses the ‘industry based experience’ element

Evaluating Cultural Projects (20 credits): This module will provide students with the knowledge and understanding to effectively design and execute the evaluation of arts and cultural projects. A very student-driven module, this is an optional choice instead of Arts Management in Practice and can only be taken if a real-time Cultural Project is occurring that the student can access.

Dissertation Project (60 credits): Through undertaking a self-directed project that suits their strengths, interests and career aspirations, students will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of work that will develop their academic rigour, professional skills, independence and self-direction. This can be a 12,000 word research dissertation; or a Business-planning document (eg a Feasibility study) along with a 5000 word critical reflective essay; or a Cultural Project with associated portfolio of evidence and 5000 word reflective essay.

NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2023) 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.

Career opportunities

You will be qualified for a broad range of management positions within a wide spectrum of cultural organisations and festivals. 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.

Arts, Festival and Cultural Management (MA): Entry requirements and application information

Entry requirements

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

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.

Disability/health conditions

If you have a disability, long-term physical or mental health condition, or learning disability, it should not stand in the way of your studying at QMU. However, if you are not sure whether your disability might be a barrier in your studies or in relation to the professional standards, please contact the disability service who will be able to have a conversation with you about reasonable adjustments and supports available to you.

Applying for this course

For more information on applying, or to apply for this course, please follow the links in the 'Start your application' box at the top right of this page.

Application deadline

Home: End of August for September 2024 start and end of December for January 2025 start.

International: End of June for September 204 start and end of October for January 2025 start.

Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2024/25 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

More information and QMU contacts

Contact Dr Anthony Schrag or contact Alice McGrath (Co-Programme Leaders) or contact Admissions 

We would be delighted for you to visit us on campus to find out more about our MA Arts, Festivals and Cultural Management

Arts, Festival and Cultural Management (MA): FAQ's

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions we have about the course: they should provide you with all the information you need, but if you require more specific details, please feel free to contact Dr Anthony Schrag or contact Alice McGrath (Co-Programme Leaders).

 The questions we address are:

  • What is the difference between the PgCert, PgDip and MA?
  • What is the difference between the full-time and the part-time pathway?
  • What is the difference between the January and September starting points?
  • What is the time commitment? How often do I need to be on campus?
  • What are the modules? When are they taught?
  • How do the ‘Block Taught’ modules work?
  • What are the Industry-based Learning requirements? (Internship/Placement)
  • What kind of assignments will I be required to do?
  • Am I still eligible to apply if I do not have an undergraduate degree?
  • I have not studied in some time – will I be able to complete the course?
  • Who are the other people that generally attend the programme?
  • Can I do any reading to prepare myself for the course?  
What is the difference between the January and September starting points?
As above, there is no academic difference between the starting points: the only differences are the order you will complete the modules in and the length of time you are required to commit to the programme. As a student must complete all modules before taking the final dissertation project, a full-time January start will take 15 months to complete the course, but a full-time September start will take 12 months.
To illustrate this, a full-time, September start will begin in Semester 1 (Sept - Dec), then move on to Semester 2 (Jan - Apr) and then to the final dissertation module in Semester 3 (May - Aug) with a successful degree being conferred in June of that year. The graduation would be in the July of the following year.
A January start, however, will begin in Semester 2 (Jan - Apr), have the summer months off from studies (Semester 3: May - Aug), begin again in Semester 1 (Sept - Dec), and then complete their final dissertation module in Semester 2 (Jan - Apr) with a successful degree being conferred in June of that year. The graduation would be in the July of that year.
While there this attention to both within each term, some students find that the January semester is more ‘practically’ oriented and the September term more ‘theoretically’ focused: going through the whole MA will ensure you explore both elements.

What are the modules? When are they taught?

Semester

Code

Module Title

Semester 1

(Sept - Dec)

TM185

Contemporary Debates in Cultural Policy

TM186

Designing Qualitative Research

TM187

Strategy and Sustainability within Cultural Organisations (Block taught)

Semester 2

(Jan - April)

 

 

TM188

Fundraising, Development and Finance (Block taught)

TM190

or

TMXXX

Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects

or

Another module from the ASSaM PG Module Suite

TM190

Evaluating Arts and Cultural Projects

Year Long

(Sem. 1 & 2)

TMTBC

Leadership and Arts Management in Practice

 

Semester 2 or 3

(Jan - May OR May – Aug)

TM160

Dissertation Project (Self-Directed)

What is the time commitment? How often do I need to be on campus?
All teaching days for this course will normally happen on Thursdays and Fridays. Depending on if you are part-time or full-time, you would need to be on campus either for one or both of those days each week. These days may include taught components in the morning and the afternoon. Whilst these classes have varied start and end times through the year, it is good to prepare to be on campus from 09:00 - 17:00 on each of these days.
We also teach one module each taught semester (Sept-Dec, and Jan-April) through a ‘Block Taught’ format - these are explained in a bit more depth below.
On top of this, we would also suggest at least 16 to 20 hours a week to self-directed study (for Full Time Students) to focus on associated group work, reading and assignments. There are also field-trips, as well as industry-based learning elements to consider. If you are already working within the field, you can use this towards your industry-based learning requirements - see below for more information about this.
What are the modules? When are they taught?
Semester 2 or 3
(Jan – May, or May – Aug) TM160 Dissertation Project (Self-Directed)
How do the ‘Block Taught’ modules work?
Responding to student feedback - particularly those students already working in the field - we have developed one module per semester that will be ‘Block Taught’. This means we have compressed the regular 12 weeks of teaching into four intensive, day-long sessions. The benefits of this is that you are required to attend less modules on campus each week, but it also means assignments and assessments are more evenly spaced out throughout the terms.
These block-taught modules will normally be scheduled on the Thursday/Friday teaching days. The 1st semester’s block-taught module is Strategy and Sustainability within the Cultural Organisations and the 2nd semester’s block-taught module is Fundraising, Development and Finance
What are the Industry-based Learning requirements? (Internships) 
In regards to Industry-based learning, we require that students take up work-based, placement opportunities to assist their learning and to put the theory into practice. These are not traditional ‘time-delineated’ internships (eg several months of required working) but rather self-directed placements that the student undertakes in a field or organisation most suited to them and their interests. Many internships/placements opportunities are offered by the world-famous organisations that are based in Edinburgh (for example, the Edinburgh International Festival, or Lyceum Theatre), and these are advertised. Although we support students to find opportunities, students are required to secure your own arrangements in line with your personal interests - for example, if you were specifically interested in Dance, you could seek out a placement at a dance organisation here in Edinburgh and we would support you in liaising with the specific organisation in order to arrange that and/or writing a letter of support etc. As we are in Edinburgh - the world’s first and best Festival City - we have no end of opportunities in this regards, and we are well regarded by our industry peers: many of our alumni work in these organisations now and advocate for us. If you are already working in the sector then can use your existing employment as the site for your Industry-based learning.
What kind of assignments will I be required to do?
The methods used vary from module to module. Students’ performance is assessed through a variety of methods including essays, reports, reflective portfolios, group work, an exam and a dissertation or project. There are also often formative (non-graded) assessments as well as summative (graded) assessments.
Am I still eligible to apply if I do not have an undergraduate degree?
We do consider significant experience as valid learning that allows students to enter into the course without a previous undergraduate degree, however, you should have had significant previous experience of working in the capacity of a supervisor or manager. These applications would be considered on a case-by-case basis and you should contact the admissions team or co-programme leader Anthony Schrag or Alice McGrath on should you wish to discuss this further.
I have not studied in some time – will I be able to complete the course?
A lot of the students on the course are returning to study after a long period out of university. As such, the induction provides an opportunity for some refreshers in regards to key study skills. Attendance at the induction day is therefore expected. We do also recommend that you familiarise yourself with such things as essay writing formats and library research and can recommend study skills books to help with this. QMU offers students access to an Effective Learning Service and Royal Literary Fellow to assist students with their writing and study skills and you should consider availing yourself of these services as soon as possible so that you can be up to speed on the necessary requirements of academic study.
Who are the other people that generally attend the course?
The course’s diverse student profile is one of its strengths. We have a mix of students at all stages in their career - from recent graduates just starting out to directors who are managing successful cultural projects that attend to refresh their skills; from individual artists wishing to develop a more managerial outlook to those already working in the field and undertaking Continuing Professional Development supported by their organisation. This diversity of experience is useful to compare and contrast different insights as well as developing a diverse peer-support network.
Can I do any reading to prepare myself for the course? 
The following books will give you a good grounding in the sorts of material we cover in the course. They are core texts, and so reading them sooner will give you an advantage when it comes to the lectures and assignments. 
- Bell, D. and Oakley, K. 2015. Cultural Policy. Abingdon: Routledge 
- Cunliffe., A. 2014. A Very Short Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Management. London: SAGE Publications Ltd
- Varbanova, L. 2013. Strategic Management in the Arts. Abingdon: Routledge 
 
We also have a wide range of nationalities who can offer diverse international perspectives and cross-cultural network opportunities.

Articulation routes from Canadian institutions

Become your best you: study at QMU

Course Overview

Delivery
On campus at QMU with some industry-based learning
Duration
1 year full-time OR 2-7 years part-time (or 20 months full-time with a January start)
Start Date
September 2024
Start Date
January 2025
School
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Division
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level
11

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