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 histories, theories and approaches to urban space and city-making. 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; concepts of public space, the public realm, place-making and the commons; and critiquing notions of creative cities, and the rise of arts-led regeneration.
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/or 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 and political 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 representatives. They will cover a range of subjects including the inner workings of local and regional government, the complexities of institutional relationships, providing first-hand accounts of initiating and implementing projects. This unit also includes lectures and case-study presentations on forms and theories of urban governance, urban policy, funding, procurement, regulation, and legislation.
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 -state, money and funding. The unit considers the broader impact of wider political and economic forces such as investment, austerity, and growth as manifested at the intersection of the built environment and cultural production. The unit will introduce you to the complexities of economic models and financial planning related to different project types and contexts, examining ways of evaluating cultural and spatial projects including and 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 and testing methods for conducting your thesis. The thesis can be formulated as either an independent written thesis, design thesis or practice-based project. 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 on the conceptual, intellectual and practical skills encountered in the course through an independent written thesis, design thesis or 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 2-5 can then be taken in any order thereafter. Units 6 and 7 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.
Shared Campus Initiative
The course is strategically aligned to the shared campus initiative, a transcultural network of specialist HEIs who cooperate and collaborate on teaching exchange, content and enquiry. Shared campus offers opportunities for sharing learning and student experience through on-line and intensive workshops that are, by intention, trans- and extra-disciplinary in nature and cover themes relating to critical ecologies; social transformation as creative practice; popular cultures; cultures, histories and identity. Shared campus supports academic and teaching exchange.
Recognition of Learning from Experience
One core assessment strategy and practice relates to the capture of experiential and informal learning that extends beyond the curriculum or is flexibly structured. The College framework for Recognition of Learning from Experience offers options for learning endorsement from peers, experience-givers or staff. This system is designed to facilitate learning capture based on evidence, reflection and student evaluation. Recognition of Learning from Experience enables students to claim credit via the course for learning from partner institutions, thereby facilitating trans-national co-operation. Candidates can also apply for advanced entry through a structured approach to AP(E)L.