Claire Moffat from Edinburgh has worked in the arts industry for a number of years, but was looking for the opportunity to professionalise her experience with a qualification when she discovered QMU’s MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management course.

Having learned how highly regarded the course was by industry insiders, Claire took the plunge and applied. Here she tells us just how much of an impact the programme has had on her life.

About you

Tell us a little about yourself such as your hobbies/interests that are related or not related to your course of study.

Having worked in the arts for several years I wanted the opportunity to professionalise my experience with a qualification. I had worked at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh for four years as Deputy Box Office Manager and was studying a degree in Design and Innovation part time with the Open University.

Following my graduation, I spent time working at the University of Edinburgh and volunteering with several local festivals and organisations. This led me to realise how much I missed working in the creative industries.

Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?

I had heard of this course and it has a great reputation amongst arts organisations, so I did some Googling and it seemed perfect! I love that the team have worked so hard to condense teaching into two days, allowing students to plan ahead and fit work or other commitments in easily.

The format of each module differs and appeals to different learning styles. The tutors liaise with local institutions and work with them to deliver appropriate content which is sought after by the arts community. There are meetings each semester with staff to voice any concerns, or make recommendations about the course. Staff have actioned a lot of our suggestions and are really engaged in making the course work for each group of students.

Why did you choose to study in the city in which your university is based?

Being based in Edinburgh, the city of festivals, is ideal. There are so many opportunities to visit museums, galleries and gain experience in festivals, etc.

The course

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight?

I have had so many great opportunities through the course already.

I was shortlisted for the Creative Edinburgh Student Award, and I was lucky enough to get an internship through Santander Universities with Edinburgh Printmakers. This opportunity is helping me put what I am learning into practice and gain experience in visual arts. This will also be a huge benefit to my CV in the future. 

The course has been really rewarding and I feel so much more confident in my abilities. As a group, my classmates are so supportive to one another.  We are all very busy, but with the help of our wonderful class reps there have been reading group sessions and a Christmas dinner was arranged so we can catch up outside of university.

What have you learnt, or which particular activity has been the most interesting?

Part of the course involves field trips to cultural organisations. This has been really interesting and is a great way to investigate where I may work in the future.

How have your lecturers supported your learning?

The course staff have great contacts in the sector and there are lots of opportunities for internships and jobs.

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

As a mature student, I was concerned about the cost of going back to university, but with the help of SAAS postgraduate funding and part time work, this is achievable!

What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?

After graduation I will stay in Edinburgh, with its wealth of arts organisations! I hope to work in visual arts management, but I am remaining open to ideas at the moment. I make silver jewellery and would love to have my own studio or shop further down the line.

Life as a Student at QMU

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

As a postgraduate student I don’t have a lot of free time, but catching classmates for a quick coffee is a great stress reliever. I also cycle into QMU. The campus is very accessible by bike and getting a bit of exercise helps clear your head before and after a day of lectures.

What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?

I’m still not great with deadlines but I am improving. The quantity of reading and research required, means you have to get organised early!


"As a mature student, I was concerned about the cost of going back to university, but with the help of SAAS postgraduate funding and part time work, this is achievable!"
Claire Moffat

[Story published in 2018]