MA Cities follows a broad thematic arc which considers situations, agencies, interventions and practices. Each course unit is approximately nine weeks long and begins with two to three weeks of self-directed study, supported by collaborative online activities. During this time, you will prepare for an intensive teaching and learning sprint which usually takes place over a weekend. The sprint is followed by six to seven weeks of self-directed project work, culminating in a submission. Online tutorial support is provided throughout the duration of each unit, as well as facilitated collaborative peer-to-peer learning via a learning technologist.
Unit 1: Voices from the City
Unit 1 considers cities, towns and other dense urban settlements as places where multiple transactions and situations are constantly performed by a variety of participants. This unit addresses the challenges facing cities through transcultural and cross-cultural social experiences and encounters. This is delivered through weekly reports from different constituencies and sectors of urban practice, including citizens, practitioners, policymakers and governors. The unit establishes a situated position for learning and reflecting. It challenges students to confront their own specific cultural identities in relation to others and to reflect upon the situated nature of civic practices.
Unit 2: Community and Collaboration
Unit 2 provides an opportunity for engagement with different theories and approaches to urban space and city-making. This allows students to analyse, understand and re-imagine existing individual and organisational practices. The unit establishes a theoretical background and thematic grounding in histories of social engagement, collaboration and participatory practice, examining theories and practices around the production of social space. The unit will consider and define the role of creative practices in the public realm. Students will examine the increasing privatisation of public space, analysing and critiquing notions of place-making, creative cities and the rise of arts-led regeneration and its associated cultural infrastructures.
Unit 3: Critical Creative Practices
Unit 3 explores the context of alternative urban and civic practices through the observation of, and participation in, a live-project. This is undertaken in collaboration with external agencies, for example local government, regeneration authorities, arts groups and third-sector organisations. In this unit, students will develop methods of critical analysis and interpretation, and will speculate on the themes, questions and methods of sustained urban and civic practice. Unit 3 will be brokered with specific arts-led practices and organisations appropriate to the cohort.
Unit 4: Commissioning and Governance
Unit 4 focuses on organisational structures, working relationships and forms of commissioning by local authorities, government and wider agencies, including their associated policy contexts. The unit is delivered as a series of case studies with reports and seminars from a range of practitioners, policymakers, arts professionals and local authority workers. They will cover a range of subjects including the inner workings of local government, the complexities of institutional relationships and provide first-hand accounts of initiating and implementing projects. This unit includes lectures and case-study presentations on forms and theories of urban governance, urban policy, funding, procurement, regulation, legislation and lobbying.
Unit 5: Infrastructures and Transactions
Unit 5 is concerned with the economy of civic and urban practices and explores transactions between the social and the economic, the informal economy and the extra-state, money and deals. The unit considers the impact of wider political and economic forces such as austerity, precarity, de-growth and the built environment. It reflects on the burgeoning service-orientated goals for creative urban practice, including relationships to health and well-being and environmental and societal challenges. The unit addresses forms of value and impact, searching for ways of evaluating cultural production and spatial change beyond the monetary and financial.
Unit 6: Practice Manual (Pre-Thesis)
This unit allows time and focus to develop a thesis question. It also supports you in scoping a method for conducting your thesis. The thesis can be formulated as either a text and image document-based propositions, or a creative design intervention. If appropriate, it can be formulated in association with a third party through an embedded practice placement undertaken during Unit 6. Your thesis should involve collaboration with key partners, including engagement with communities, organisations and stakeholders.
Unit 7: Thesis
The course culminates in Unit 7, the final Master’s-specific 60-credit unit. You will reflect critically on the critical and practical skills encountered in the course through a self-directed written or creative thesis, or personal practice-based project. Unit 7 is intended to rehearse creative attributes that enable you to become a self-sufficient and critical practitioner, with clear aspirations for your future role and the confidence and independence to pursue your goals. The thesis unit will support you to conduct and deliver an enquiry-led proposition which frames a new civic or urban practice, rehearsing skills of proactivity, enterprise and agility.
Mode of Study
MA Cities is offered in both part-time and flexible learning modes.
Part-time mode runs for 90 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit 20 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.
Flexible learning mode is a unit by unit approach that allows you up to five years to complete. This mode of learning supports those of you who are already established in your careers, and who may be travelling from afar to join the course. Unit 1 is compulsory and must be undertaken initially. Units 2-4 can then be taken in any order thereafter. Units 5 and 6 need to be undertaken in consecutive order.
Credit and award requirements
The course is credit-rated at 180 credits.
On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree).
Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only.
If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits.
Learning and teaching methods
- Unit briefings and introductions
- Group on-line ‘orientation’ exercises
- Reading tasks
- Face-to-face workshops, introducing different ways of locating, interrogating, and interpreting a number of models and case studies
- Team work
- Student presentations to tutors and peers
- Peer and external feedback
- Tutorial facilitation/evaluation related to team/individual and cohort.
- Online assessment
- Personal and group tutorials