Postgraduate Taught

Applied Arts - PgCert

How can artists and other creative practitioners work successfully with communities, outside of the traditional cultural spaces such as galleries, theatres, or museums?

There is a growing interest the role of artists working within health, education, social welfare or other sectors, and this PgCert in Applied Arts and Social Practice will allow students to graduate with a better understanding of how artists apply their skills in social contexts. At the same time, it will explore the practical and enterprise skills to develop a sustainable career in their chosen field. 

You may find the course particularly suitable if you have already – or want to – to work within socially engaged art and want to broaden your understanding of your professional practice. The course is useful degree for those with significant workplace experience who want to gain a formal qualification in a flexible manner. It 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 community projects.

The course offers flexible study options.

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 develop your skills and knowledge whilst in employment.
  • 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 as these will no doubt be more 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 are significantly experienced in both the theory and practice of applied and socially engaged art practices, and all come from a very different perspectives, giving our students a broad overview of the subject. The lecturers have collectively been involved in such activities as delivering international socially engaged art projects; guiding international research; leading cultural projects and businesses; and advising government on cultural policy. Our team’s research has also been published and exhibited 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 prove 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: You’ll benefit from a range of professional expertise as well as insight from key cultural organisations working this way across Scotland. 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, Craigmillar Now, Artlink Edinburgh and North Edinburgh Arts that students can access as part of their learning. 

Studying Applied Arts and Social Practice

More about Applied Arts and Social Practice (PgCert) and what you will achieve

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 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 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 PgCert will introduce students to the main concepts that this growing sector is wrestling with and provide a strong base to build and develop your career as a creative practitioner working alongside communities.

You will complete three modules on this block-taught PgCert, touching on the most theoretical and practical elements, including an analysis of the ethics of working within communities, practical skills of engaging with groups as well as Fundraising and finance. This provide students with a good base of knowledge, skills and experience to best prepare them for applying the arts and creativity to areas such as third-sector organisations – ie public health, social welfare, or education.

How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

You will complete three 20-credit modules to obtain a PgCert (60 credits). This PgCert also counts as credit towards our MA Applied Arts and Social Practice, after completion of the PgCert, you’ll have the option to obtain the MA on a part-time basis the following year by completing three additional modules and a dissertation. 

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. Please contact Anthony Schrag for more information on single module study.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching comprises a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, case studies and projects. Assessment will take the form of essays, reports, exams and presentations.

Teaching hours and attendance

Our 10-week semester offers some flexible attendance: please speak to the Programme Leader to get insight on how to make this flexible schedule work for you.

Placement/industry-based learning

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.

Class sizes

Normally, there are around 10 – 15 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. 



You will need to complete 60 credits and there is flexibility in which three 20-credit modules you choose. You do need to select at least two of our core modules and if selecting only two of these core modules, you will need to take one of the optional modules.

Core modules

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. 

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. 

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.

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

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.

Applied Arts (PgCert): 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: This course is not open to international students.

Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

More information and QMU 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.

Student interviews

Become your best you: study at QMU

Course Overview

On campus at QMU with some industry-based learning
1 year full time OR 2-7 years part time
Start Date
September 2024
Start Date
January 2025
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

Engage with the Team

Join us at one of our Postgraduate Open Events

Find out about online and in-person opportunities to meet with us to find out more about our postgraduate courses and study at QMU. 

Postgraduate Open Events - More Info and Bookings