MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Bethan Ellis

My placement at Company Chameleon encompassed every aspect of experience that I wanted to gain from taking the placement module.

It allowed me to gain practical experience of a touring dance company, alongside the development of my administration and marketing skills.

Bethan Ellis / MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice

Our interdisciplinary MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice course covers the wide range of expertise associated with running arts organisations and coordinating arts and cultural programmes and events, as well as the strategic development of art forms, cultural leadership practices and local cultural management. 

You will draw on broad literatures and sources, covering areas from the creative arts, drama, music, art history, critical theory and cultural economics, to business studies, organisational studies and critical cultural policy studies. 

This course brings together theory and practice in diverse areas including: 

  • production and programming
  • policymaking
  • strategic management and leadership
  • finance and resource development
  • marketing
  • audience development
  • engagement
  • participation
  • education
  • research
  • evaluation 

You will develop your knowledge and understanding of the history, theory and practice of arts management to gain an insight into the range of professional opportunities in the creative and cultural sector, and to acquire direct experience of many areas of arts management. 

You will benefit from a strong practical, hands-on element while also receiving a solid theoretical grounding that explores cultural policy in its historical context and encourages critical engagement with the philosophical, political, social and economic imperatives informing contemporary practice.


This course is an entry-level qualification for graduates, as well as offering professional development for mid-career practitioners. It offers flexibility and opportunities for specialisation while ensuring a thorough grounding in essential principles and methodology. 

It provides a solid foundation for careers in different areas of the arts and creative industries, and caters for arts practitioners, as well as aspiring managers.

Special features

'Manchester Wakes' Student Project

Culture in Manchester

Manchester states within its local cultural strategy that it aims to become the most culturally democratic city in the world and has an arts offering to help it achieve this ambition.

Along with the biennial Manchester International Festival, and its new home, the Factory, a multi-million-pound large scale arts production house and venue, the city-region of Greater Manchester has a host of brilliant arts organisations including theatres, orchestras and music organisations, a network of galleries, museums, libraries and heritage sites, as well as digital and outdoor arts, festivals, studio collectives and community-based groups.

We are lucky to be based at the heart of a vibrant cultural ecosystem, with these organisational partners and our own campus-based cultural organisations, including the Manchester Academy, Contact Theatre, and university museums, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Links with other subjects and industry

We work particularly closely with staff from the University's Music and Drama departments. A wide range of regional arts venues and organisations contribute to the course by providing guest lecturers, site visits and work placements.

Project experience

During the MA, students have opportunities to design and participate in live projects with heritage organisations and contexts in Manchester.

These include researching heritage audiences, developing exhibitions, producing heritage events, and working on community engagement and creative collaborative projects. Discover our student's exhibitions and initiatives that they have created whilst studying with the Institute for Cultural Practices.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a variety of teaching methods, depending on the units you take. These may include lectures, seminars, workshops and group work.

All units include a programme of guest lectures and/or practical seminars by experienced professionals based in cultural institutions in and around Manchester.

The course also features visits to a selection of key sites and venues in the north-west.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed through a variety of methods, depending on the units you take. These may include written assignments such as essays and policy analyses, and individual or group oral presentations.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core and optional units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to the dissertation.

All students take two core units (Arts Management: Principles and Practice, and Cultural Policy) and write a dissertation (15,000 words, or for a practice-based dissertation 8,000-10,000 words plus project documentation).

The remaining credits (two or three additional units) are taken from a range of options. Subject to availability, units may also be selected from the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies or from other arts, languages and cultures courses.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Arts Management Principles and Practice SALC60011 30 Mandatory
Cultural Policy SALC60021 30 Mandatory
Dissertation SALC60090 60 Mandatory
Art of Medieval Manuscripts AHCP61642 30 Optional
Heritage, Museums & Conflict CAHE60462 15 Optional
Creative Learning SALC60052 30 Optional
Business Strategies for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries SALC60072 30 Optional
Decolonise the Museum! SALC60242 15 Optional
Intangible Cultural Heritage SALC60302 15 Optional
The Arts & International Cultural Relations SALC60312 15 Optional
The Arts & International Cultural Relations SALC60332 30 Optional
Global, Cultural and Creative Industries SALC60402 15 Optional
Creative Learning SALC60502 15 Optional
Business Strategies for Arts, Culture and Creative Industries SALC60702 15 Optional
Curating Art SALC60802 15 Optional
Curating Art SALC60882 30 Optional
Digital Heritage SALC60902 15 Optional
Critical Ecologies SALC61082 15 Optional
Intangible Cultural Heritage SALC61302 30 Optional
Global, Cultural and Creative Industries SALC61402 30 Optional
Creative Producing SALC61812 30 Optional
Producing Digital Projects SALC61922 30 Optional
Decolonise the Museum! SALC62242 30 Optional
Creative Producing SALC68812 15 Optional
Producing Digital Projects SALC68922 15 Optional
Placement SALC70300 30 Optional
Displaying 10 of 26 course units

What our students say

The course itself provided me with the tools which I draw upon regularly and apply in practice. The content of the lectures significantly informed and framed my thinking. They gave me the chance to discuss ideas and approaches in a safe environment. The course content itself was broken down into digestible pieces with reading to prepare you for weekly lectures that lead on to an essay for each module. 

Oliver Bliss, Relationship Manager Engagement and Audience, North, Arts Council England, MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice Alumni 2013

Studying this master's course helped me to build a bridge between these theoretical concepts and practical ways of how to implement them while understanding how they shape cultural policy and the cultural sector as a whole. Throughout my postgraduate studies, I enjoyed the opportunity to write essays about topics that I am passionate about, for example, I wrote about participatory decision-making, urban regeneration, social network analysis, DIY culture and the music industry.

Markus Hetheier, MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice 2018  

The course gave me an excellent theoretical foundation as well as relevant practical experience. The modules Arts Management and Cultural Policy introduced me to key questions surrounding audience research, impact evaluation, urban and rural arts, sustainability, resilience and more. The insights won back then continue to inform my thinking today.

Nadja Degen, MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice 2015


You will benefit from our extensive library and study facilities for master's students , as well as a wide range of cultural assets.

These include the Whitworth, which is home to world-famous collections, including masterpieces by Durer, Turner, Blake, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso, and is used extensively in teaching and learning.

Manchester Museum houses one of the UK's most important collections, including artefacts of particular relevance to ancient historians. The John Rylands Research Institute and Jodrell Bank also provide research and practice opportunities through their collections, exhibitions and events.

Find out more about our facilities .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: