MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60090
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This 60 credit module is for the MA programmes in the Institute for Cultural Practices, i.e., MA Art Gallery and Museums Studies, Arts Management Policy and Practice, Heritage Studies, Creative and Cultural Industries, and Library and Archive Studies. It combines methods-based training and tutorials (group and individual) to prepare students to undertake a piece of self-directed research resulting in a dissertation. The submission of a dissertation is a requirement of the MA programme.

Drawing on and solidifying the academic (research and writing) skills gained from modules undertaken in semesters 1 and 2, the Dissertation module supports students in the identification of the key requirements of an ICP dissertation including, the dissertation topic, research question, argument, structure, literature review, methodology, and case study. It will also prepare students to become intellectually curious and academically rigorous in their approach to creative and cultural practice-based research.  

In semester 1, students are required to attend a series of 6 mandatory lectures on research methods that will support their knowledge and understanding of the academic skills required to undertake a dissertation. The culmination of the lecture seminar series is the submission of a Research Topic Outline by each student (mandatory).

In semester 2, students will develop a full Dissertation Proposal for approval (mandatory), submit a research ethics application for approval (if required), and attend five mandatory group and individual tutorials. Students are also required to attend a series of mandatory lectures relating to practice-based methods in the creative and cultural practices sector. The aim is to prepare students for a period of self-directed research and writing, culminating in the submission of a dissertation.


The course is designed to: 

  • Develop a critical understanding of the theory and practice that underpins the act planning, researching and writing a dissertation.  
  • Offer an overview of the theoretical and practical skills required to conceptualise, plan, research, and write a dissertation.  
  • Provide a thorough knowledge of the intellectual and ethical issues involved in researching and writing a dissertation.  
  • Provide practical knowledge and experience of academic research methods and writing skills. 


Semester 1

Six research methodology-based lectures over 12 weeks including,

Introduction/why dissertation research matters for your future careers/how it relates to taught course units  

Designing your research/considering research topics/ethical research practice

Literature review / searching for literature and sources  

Methodologies 1 – primary research methods  

Methodologies 2 – continuation of research methods  

Planning and refining your research project and writing it up  

Semester 2

Six lectures over 12 weeks including,

Developing the full research proposal, focusing on scope, scale, ethics and research question.

Visual analysis / discourse analysis (topic is subject to change based on need)

Archival research (topic is subject to change based on need)

Social Media Analysis (topic is subject to change based on need)

Policy Development (topic is subject to change based on need)

Planning self-directed research and writing, focusing on project managing the dissertation. 



Five tutorials between March and June

Supervision Ends


July to September  

Self-directed research and writing 

Teaching and learning methods

 A series of 6 mandatory lectures per semester with Research Topic Outlines prepared and submitted in Week 12 Semester 1. Additionally, 5 x tutorials undertaken over the course of Semester 2 with dissertation proposal and research ethics approval application (if required) submitted by end of March. Students will then be prepared to conduct self-directed research from July-September (when the dissertation is submitted).

Teaching and Learning Methods include:


Individual and group tutorials

Discussion with cultural practice professionals

Individual self-directed research

The course will have a Blackboard site with all elements of the minimum specification including: 
1. Aims, Objectives, Timetable and Mode of Assessment 
2. Course Materials 
3. Reading lists 
4. Guidance on assessment 

Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of this course you should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: 

  • The role of academically informed analysis in academic research and writing.  
  • How to plan and manage a piece of self-directed research. 
  • How to identify and construct a valid research topic and question. 
  • The role and purpose of argument and structure in academic writing. 
  • The value of research methods and skills in developing viable research projects. 
  • How to apply academic research and writing skills to the analysis of creative and cultural practice. 

Intellectual skills

  • Undertake self-directed learning and skills acquisition 
  • Conduct independent, critical fieldwork 
  • Develop appropriate methodological and analytical skills 
  • Apply skills and ideas learned over the course of two semesters to the act of dissertation writing 

Practical skills

  • Initiate academic solutions to specific criteria. 
  • Communicate complex research findings through clear written and verbal articulation. 
  • Present research in an academically rigorous and articulate way. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Retrieve, select and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, including arts organisations, creative industries, heritage sites, museums, libraries, archives, and the internet. 
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively in an academic environment. 
  • Critically evaluate personal performance through monitoring and analytical reflection. 
  • Demonstrate independent learning ability suitable for continuing study and professional development. 

Employability skills

- Communicate the value and applicability of academic research to organisational practice. - Articulate clearly a key challenge or idea related to your chosen sector. - Manage time efficiently - Generate ideas and think laterally - Listening and discussion skills

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeLengthWeighting within unit (if relevant)
Quiz/reflection on 6-week lecture seriesSummative 10%
Research Topic OutlineSummative2 page templateMandatory for progression
Dissertation proposalSummative750 words10%

12,000 words (standard route)

8-10,000 words, plus policy / practice documentation (practice-based route)


Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Semester 1 quiz based on lecture contentSummative
Research Topic Outline agreement to proceed or revise (via Turnitin)Formative
Written feedback on Dissertation Proposal (via Turnitin)Summative
Written feedback and discussion during tutorial on draft dissertation chapterFormative
Written feedback on submitted dissertation (via Turnitin)Summative

Recommended reading

Key Readings for the Course  

Blair, L. (2016). Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

Literature Reviews

Blair, L. (2016). "Conducting and Writing Literature Reviews". In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.  

Randolph, J. (2009). A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical assessment, research, and evaluation, 14(1), 13.

Sayer, E. J. (2018). The anatomy of an excellent review paper. Functional Ecology, 32(10), 2278-2281.


Blair, L. (2016). "Choosing a Methodology". In Writing a Graduate Thesis or Dissertation. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.  

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 600

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