BA Liberal Arts with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Arts and the City: People, Power, and Protest

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC21152
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Liberal Arts at Manchester emphasises learning and research that is driven by real-world challenges, rather than disciplines. What, then, are the challenges that mark contemporary contexts, for Liberal Arts to engage with? Using Manchester as a laboratory, this course considers different case studies that can be approached by arts-based and humanities research. Topics and case studies that represent various challenges and ethical issues are structured into four thematic clusters that are modelled in the broader Liberal Arts programme: Individuals, Identities & Beliefs; Societies, Cities & Civilisations; Technologies, Materials & Cultures; Environments, Sustainability & Social Responsibility. Students will have the opportunity to explore all of these themes over the course via a range of different learning platforms and environments, including online lectures, face-to-face seminars, and workshops in museums. The course will teach students about some of the research approaches and methodologies that underwrite interdisciplinary and socially responsible research that links to communities outside of academia. Assessment will allow students to develop their explorations of themes of their choice by working (a) in groups to identify, research, and present a case study using PechaKucha, and (b) individually to write an analytical essay.


  • To demonstrate ways of applying interdisciplinary learning to the challenges of the contemporary city, using Manchester as a laboratory for Liberal Arts;
  • To consider the importance of impact and social responsibility in research and ways of evaluating its successfulness;
  • To use arts-based theories and approaches to identify, explore and critique urban ethical challenges;
  • To develop independent and group research skills.

Teaching and learning methods

The lectures for this course unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical awareness of some of the key challenges that face contemporary cities such as Manchester;
  • Understanding of the ways of building impact and social responsibility into research and how this might be evaluated;
  • Competence with a range of interdisciplinary theories and methodologies.

Intellectual skills

  • Critical reading and application of this in development of an argument;
  • Critical and analytical skills highlighted through engagement with key texts and key themes and issues;
  • Development of own research agenda and selection of appropriate theories and methods through which to explore a chosen theme/case study.

Practical skills

•             Group work and communication of ideas in co-operation with others;

•             Independent approach to research;

•             Reflective and self-aware learning.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Self-organisation skills and an ability to plan research in order to meet course deadlines;
  • An ability to work independently, including conducting independent research, and to work with others in group work tasks;
  • Effective oral and written communication skills.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

PechaKucha plan



Research essay



PechaKucha presentation (in pairs) and individual reflection




Feedback methods

Peer feedback in class discussions during lectures, and formative seminar debates Formative
Written feedback on assessments Formative and Summative
Oral feedback during class and office hours Formative


Recommended reading

  • Malcom Crowe, ‘Research Today’, in John Atkinson and Malcolm Crowe (eds.), Interdisciplinary Research: Diverse Approaches in Science, Technology, Health and Society (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2006), pp. 1-24.
  • Veronica Strang and Tom McLeish, ‘Evaluating Interdisciplinary Research: A Practical Guide’, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, (2015).
  • Steph Menken and Machiel Keestra (eds.), ‘Part 2: The Manual - “The How”’, An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research: Theory and Practice (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016), pp. 51-101.
  • Katri Huutoniemi, ‘Evaluating Interdisciplinary Research’, in Robert Frodeman, Julie Thompson Klein, and Carl Mitcham (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinary Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 309-320.
  • Sandra Dudley, Amy Jane Barnes, and Jennifer Binnie (eds.), The Thing About Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation (Oxon: Routledge, 2011).
  • W. Alex Edmonds, An Applied Guide to Research Designs: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods (Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2017).
  • Janet Wolff and Mike Savage (eds.), Culture in Manchester: Institutions and Urban Change Since 1850 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
  • Charlotte Wildman, ‘Urban Transformation in Liverpool and Manchester, 1918-1939’, The Historical Journal, Vol. 55, No. 1 (2012), pp. 119-143.
  • Stuart Hylton, A History of Manchester (Chichester: Phillimore, 2003).
  • Lynne Pearce, ‘Manchester: The Postcolonial City’, in Lynne Pearce, Corinne Fowler, and Robert Crawshaw (eds.), Postcolonial Manchester: Diaspora Space and the Devolution of Literary Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), pp. 20-78.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Practical classes & workshops 4
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Scott Midson Unit coordinator

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