PhD Arts and Cultural Management / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

Programme description

Our pioneering PhD Professional Practice: Arts and Cultural Management programme is ideal if you work in the arts and cultural management sector and want to undertake advanced research that builds on your professional knowledge and is based in or led by your practice.

The structure of the programme will enable you to develop your career while simultaneously undertaking a research project leading to a doctoral qualification.

This PhD is one of a suite of professional practice-focused doctorates overseen by the University's Institute for Cultural Practices and the department of Drama. It aims to engage experienced professionals in advanced research, and reflects the need for structured forms of professional development and reflective practice across the arts sector. Previous and current doctoral projects include: the history of heritage funding, audience development and the professionalisation of arts marketing in contemporary theatre, addressing the gender gap in contemporary music industries, the role of the arts manager in mediating participatory and socially engaged art works.

The programme takes explicit account of the professional practice-base of the candidate, integrating this as a central knowledge base for the research project, and supporting the development of dynamic knowledge outcomes that can have an impact across academic and non-academic contexts.

The programme supports the development of reflective practice that can respond to and influence the complex unpredictable and shifting social and cultural contexts within which practitioners operate. The programme will introduce you to a range of dynamic and challenging concepts and methods with which to reflect critically and constructively on your professional practice.

You will be supported through a bi-annual residential programme in addition to standard supervisions that sustain the cohort for peer learning. The PhD is frequently undertaken part-time to provide time for engagement in professional practice.

Together with your fellow students, you will investigate the principles of reflective practice and practice-based research, and engage in research methods training and group learning about relevant areas of social and cultural theory. This pedagogical approach enables your professional context to become your primary research resource.

Special features

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Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Manchester. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.

Additional programme information

Equality, diversity and inclusion  is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. 

We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. 

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

All appointments are made on merit. 

The University of Manchester and our external partners are fully committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Teaching and learning

You will receive individual supervision from an academic supervisor with a specialism related to your field of research, as well as opportunities to develop reflective enquiry into practice via group-based learning exercises with other practitioners at two three-day meetings per year.

All teaching and supervision will be led by arts management staff. This approach to teaching and learning supports interdisciplinary research and high levels of engagement and interaction between academic knowledge, policy imperatives and practical applications.

Coursework and assessment

You will receive monthly individual supervisions while working towards key milestones over the course of the programme.

Progress is also supported via attendance at two three-day meetings per year, in autumn and spring (Thursday to Saturday).

Written and practical work produced for each milestone is revised for the final thesis submission. Assuming that the PhD is taken part-time over a six-year period, the key milestones are:

  • Year 1: literature review (12,000-15,000 words in total);
  • Year 2: revised research proposal and portfolio of reflective practice (10,000 words in total);
  • Year 3-5: individual targets appropriate to the completion of the thesis research, including practical work, draft chapters, reflective writing;
  • Year 6: work towards submission of a thesis of 80,000 words or practical outcome accompanied by a 20,000 to 50,000-word thesis.

The programme is structured on the basis that the most suitable pathway is the part-time route. However, there is a negotiable full-time route in special cases (which may be more desirable, for example, for students who have accessed funding to support an extended break from the profession, or for retired professionals).

Full-time students will have 12 individual supervisions per year, twice-yearly research panels and access to additional support at twice yearly workshop meetings to ensure that you can meet key milestones.


Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

Research and teaching in arts management is supported by rich resources within our library. Manchester is home to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries - one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries.

Find out more about libraries and study spaces for postgraduate research students at Manchester.

We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

Find out more about facilities for Institute for Cultural Practices students.

Disability support

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