BA Liberal Arts / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course description

Liberal Arts at The University of Manchester brings the key concepts of morality, value, truth and what it is to be human to students, underwriting what it is to be a free citizen in the world today. 

By studying Liberal Arts, you are joining a proud intellectual tradition associated with the training, development and empowerment of free citizens. 

With an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, students will be able to tailor their interests throughout the Liberal Arts course and respond to key issues that affect the flourishing of free citizens from social inequality to cultural diversity, and from artificial intelligence to climate change.


  • To highlight the important relationship between research and society (universities and the public).
  • To train students how to critique the research of others effectively, including appropriate source handling and writing skills.
  • To equip students with the skills required to understand and develop interdisciplinary work, including a critical understanding of the challenges that such work presents.
  • To allow students to realise and pursue their own research interests through an emphasis on reflective learning and by providing tailored academic support.
  • To deliver a diverse and inclusive curriculum that appeals to a range of interests and learning styles, and that encourages critical scrutiny of disciplines and approaches.

Special features

Placement year option  

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year  in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks. 

Connect with like-minded students  

Join one of our student societies to further explore your interests. 

Work with Creative Manchester 

We're working with organisations in Manchester and developing research that responds to real-world challenges in Manchester.

Teaching and learning

The emphasis in Liberal Arts is on becoming an active and engaged citizen and researcher. 

Core Liberal Arts course units will deliver this through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and research workshops that link to cultural institutions such as the John Rylands Library, the Science and Industry Museum, and Manchester Museum.  

In their final year, students can also work with institutions and organisations in Manchester to develop their own world-facing research. 

Students will be trained in reflective learning, which will be assessed through innovative presentation formats, reports, research proposals, and debates, in addition to essays and exams.

Coursework and assessment

Core Liberal Arts course units are assessed through a range of coursework assignments, including research essays that let you delve into the topics that inspire you. 

You can also work with more creative forms of assessment, including PechaKucha presentations, posters, debates, and reflections on your experiences. 

You'll have the ability to work individually and in groups. 

Course units from across the University are assessed using a range of formats, including exams and coursework, which allows you to develop a range of valuable skills.

Course unit details

A series of core Liberal Arts modules covering the history of humanities, rhetoric, ethics, and social responsibility provides students with the intellectual foundations required to uncover, contextualise and approach our responses to contemporary global issues.

Students will have the opportunity to complement this knowledge by taking a language, specialising in a Minor subject through Flexible Honours, or distributing their studies across different interdisciplinary thematic clusters.

Course content for year 1

Core course units in your first year will begin by introducing you to the field of the humanities and the role that the arts have played in shaping cultures from ancient civilisations through to the present day, and even to the future. 

You will encounter intellectual 'Giants' from a range of different cultures and contexts, and you will be trained to critically explore what makes someone a key thinker. 

You will use cutting-edge research to question how we think about the value of knowledge, and how we communicate it with academic and non-academic audiences. 

You will analyse and discuss the relationship between the arts and the sciences in understanding and shaping humans and our environments - a topic at the forefront of current academic research. 

This content will give you a foundation - a map, if you like - on which you can locate ideas from different disciplines that you will encounter throughout your course. 

Beyond this, you will be able to choose course units from across the arts and beyond and pursue your interests in a range of disciplines. 

You'll have the opportunity to take a minor subject through Flexible Honours, including a language, or you can cast your net wider to suit your interests. 

You will have an academic advisor to help you as you select your course units.

Course units for year 1

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
Standing on The Shoulders of Giants: Foundations for Study in The Arts SALC10002 20 Mandatory
Humanities in Public: The Past, Present and Future of Ideas that Shape the World SALC10411 20 Mandatory
Research Methods in the Arts SALC11281 10 Mandatory
Decoding Inequality: Reimagining Digital Culture DIGI10031 20 Optional
Science and the Modern World (20 Credits) HSTM10721 20 Optional
Language, Mind and Brain LELA10201 20 Optional
Exploring Enterprise MCEL10001 10 Optional
Entrepreneurial Skills MCEL10002 10 Optional
Truth and Truth Telling RELT10522 20 Optional
Being Human[e]: Theological Studies in Philosophy and Ethics RELT10911 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

In your second year, core Liberal Arts course units will help you to build on ideas about interdisciplinarity from Year 1 by exploring how interdisciplinary research might be applied to Manchester. 

Taking Manchester as a 'laboratory' for thinking about Liberal Arts, you will learn about how research across the arts and humanities connects with issues in urban environments. 

You will be able to focus on, and critique, the communication of ideas through an emphasis on 'impact', which is about social engagement, and rhetoric, which is about persuasive speech and writing. 

You will work with institutions such as the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery to explore and evaluate pathways to impact and the role of creativity in communicating research to different audiences.

You'll also hear from a range of experts in fields from classical history to business studies to psychology about strategies for persuading others using ideas, and the ethics of it in a range of political and social contexts. 

In addition to core course units, you'll be able to continue to develop your interests in a range of disciplines from across the University, boasting the choice than any other degree course.

Course units for year 2

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
Understanding Rhetoric: The Arts of Persuasion SALC21141 20 Mandatory
Arts and the City: People, Power, and Protest SALC21152 20 Mandatory
Art in Theory AHCP20432 20 Optional
Work Psychology for Career Success BMAN20022 10 Optional
New Product Development and Innovation BMAN20821 10 Optional
Finding Happiness in the Ancient World CAHE24402 20 Optional
Problems in Theology, Philosophy and Ethics: Evil RELT21111 20 Optional
World Philosophies: Ethics and Ideas in the History of Thought RELT21702 20 Optional
Data Literacy in a Digital World SALC20081 20 Optional
Communicating with Confidence UCIL21300 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Course units in your final year will give you a chance to demonstrate and continue to develop your skills from previous years. 

The Creative Manchester engagement project will give you an opportunity to work with an organisation in Manchester that helps you to combine internship or volunteering experience with your studies. 

You will be trained to write a report that has an agenda for impact and social responsibility, and you will be able to present this work to academic and non-academic audiences. 

These outputs directly draw on ideas about communication and impact from Year 2, and ideas about intellectual history from Year 1. 

You will also be able to reflect on your studies and synthesise your course units in order to get a better understanding of the personal impact of your Liberal Arts degree. 

You can supplement your learning by choosing to write a long essay on a topic of your choice with tailored supervisory support, taking a range of course units in the arts and beyond, and continuing with your minor subject or language if you started them in previous years.

Course units for year 3

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
Management of Knowledge and Innovation BMAN30010 20 Optional
People Management and Change BMAN32091 10 Optional
Tools and Techniques for Enterprise MCEL30001 10 Optional
Advanced Technology Enterprise MCEL30012 10 Optional
Interdisciplinary Sustainable Development MCEL30022 10 Optional
Enterprise Feasibility MCEL30052 10 Optional


Our most distinctive research resource is The John Rylands Library - an internationally renowned resource which holds one of the finest collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives in the world. 

Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, and Museum of Medicine and Health all feature throughout the course, and we also have strong links with the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). 

Find out more on the Facilities  page.

Disability support

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