MA Applied and Community Arts (with Specialism)

Working in partnership with a range of arts and cultural organisations, the University of Bolton’s MA Applied and Community Arts degree focuses on preparing you to undertake projects with tangible social, educational and cultural benefits. Our experienced team will support you to develop the real-world, essential skills needed for success as a professional arts practitioner in areas such as community arts, youth work, prisons and the probation service, and health and wellbeing.

Applied and Community Arts (with Specialism)

Key information



Mode of Study:



12 months


University of Bolton

Start date:


Course Details

The power of arts and culture to effect positive change to communities, social regeneration, and health and wellbeing is increasingly being recognised by central and local government agencies. If you have a passion for helping arts and cultural organisations to engage their communities more effectively, this master’s degree offers you a route into a rewarding career in applied and community arts. Whether you are progressing straight from undergraduate study, or are already working in the sector, this programme aims to prepare you to work in partnership with a range of arts and cultural organisations to undertake projects that have tangible social, educational and cultural benefits.

Our dedicated team will support you as you investigate the current arts landscape to develop your understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts for the arts, examining growth areas such as arts and wellbeing, social prescribing, social engagement and regeneration. The applications for arts in the community are varied and you’ll have the opportunity to explore areas such as youth work, arts in prisons and the probation service, and arts for health and wellbeing.

Your studies will focus on key aspects of applied and community arts practice, including facilitation, project management and leadership. Audience engagement and impact evaluation will also form key cornerstones of your learning. You’ll have the opportunity to work with a number of arts and cultural organisations via live briefs and work-based learning, as well as gain additional qualifications such as safeguarding, health and safety in the workplace, and first aid to further strengthen your professional profile. Our aim is to support you to develop the real-world skills that will enable you to work freelance, on contracted roles within existing organisations, or to set up your own company.

  • This MA offers opportunities for you to work with a range of arts and cultural organisations across Greater Manchester and the North West region on live projects.
  • Our industry-engaged staff are experienced in developing and leading applied and community arts projects, so are well-versed in the skills and knowledge needed for success in the field.
  • We’ll focus on helping you develop the practical, real-world applied and community arts skills you’ll need to work as a freelance arts practitioner with a focus on funding applications, project design and planning, self-employment and enterprise.
  • We'll help you learn about tax self-assessment, invoicing, intellectual property and risk assessments, as well as offer business start-up sessions to prepare you to take advantage of opportunities for enterprise development.
  • We’ll support you as you learn to reflect on your professional persona and delivery style and adapt your delivery and approach to the requirements and challenges of different groups.
Key Features
  • Teaching and supervision are delivered by our dedicated team of experienced and well-qualified staff who are engaged in applied and community arts practice and research.
  • We offer an engaging programme of visiting speakers and practitioners that gives you opportunities to network with and learn from industry professionals.
  • You’ll have opportunities to gain additional qualifications such as safeguarding, health and safety in the workplace, and first aid, alongside your master’s degree to ensure you achieve a strong professional profile in preparation for employment.
  • This MA has strong theoretical underpinnings and a key focus on research-led practice.
  • By choosing to study with us, you'll have the chance to enjoy Bolton's many shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities. Manchester, one of the UK's most multicultural and lively cities, is less than 20 minutes away by train. Not forgetting, the North West of England is renowned for its beautiful countryside, coastline and heritage. This makes Bolton an ideal base from which to explore some of the best cultural and outdoor activities the UK offers.

  • You should have at least an upper second class (2.1) honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Theatre, Performance, Drama, Dance, Creative Writing, Animation, Illustration, Art and Design, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Photography, Textiles and Surface Design and Fashion.
  • If you don’t have this qualification but do have alternative qualifications or significant experience in a relevant field, then we’ll be happy to consider your application.
  • We'll consider applications where appropriate work experience can be demonstrated in lieu of, or in addition to, the published academic qualifications in line with the University’s Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) procedures.
  • You may be required to attend an interview and/or provide a portfolio of work.
  • You’ll need to satisfactorily pass a fitness to practice assessment.
  • This course involves working unsupervised with children and/or vulnerable young people and adults and you must gain an Enhanced Disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before starting your studies. Charges are payable to cover the cost of the DBS Enhanced Disclosure application and annual registration with the online Update Service
  • If English isn’t your first language, you’ll also need IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.
  • Please note that this course is subject to the University of Bolton's Fitness to Practise procedure.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

Our industry-focused MA Applied and Community Arts is designed to appeal if you hold a degree in an Art and Design, Theatre, Dance, Creative Writing or associated subject, and are looking to forge a career supporting arts and cultural organisations to effect positive change to communities, enable social regeneration, and enhance health and wellbeing. The University of Bolton’s strong and growing links with arts and cultural organisations across the North West means we can offer you relevant practical work experience that complements your on-campus studies of the theories and principles that underpin the practice in applied and community arts.

As a graduate of this MA, you’ll possess valuable skills in collaborative working with other practitioners and industry professionals, as well as community members and participants in a host of applied and community settings. You’ll be able to act autonomously, and use your initiative, problem-solving and leadership skills to manage complex situations. You should also have the skills to take charge of your personal and professional development and be able to reflect on your progress as you work towards your goals.

What can I do with this qualification?

After graduation, you’ll be well prepared to seek work on an employed or self-employed basis. There is enormous scope to undertake projects working with primary and secondary school children, in hospitals and care homes, youth clubs and residential homes, with the prison and probation service, museums, galleries and higher education institutions. You may apply to join existing projects that are already in progress or seek funding for your own initiatives. As a graduate of this course, you’ll have the skills and commercial awareness to prepare your own bids and market your activities.

You may also choose to continue your education. PGCE, MPhil and PhD degrees are available at the University of Bolton.

Alternative career options

Graduates can also use the qualification as a stepping-stone into a range of other careers. For some of these roles, both relevant experience and/or postgraduate study may be required. Some of these careers include:

  • Arts administration and fundraising
  • Art therapy
  • Social enterprise
  • Youth work
  • Education and teaching

Course fees

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £7,020 for the academic year 2022/23.

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £7,920 for the academic year 2023/24.

Overseas students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Overseas fee of £12,950 for the academic year 2022/23.

Overseas students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Overseas fee of £13,550 for the academic year 2023/24.

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2022-2023 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for 'Home' fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for 'Home' fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance for EU students web page on for information.

The fees for a student's course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.


Click here for more information on our Master's Bursaries.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or

Thank you for your interest

In order to determine your suitability for this course as an international student and also to confirm you meet any initial eligibility criteria, we need you to answer a few short questions.


A variety of teaching and learning strategies will be used to help you acquire and develop appropriate concepts, knowledge and skills. You can expect practice-based enquiry, self-directed study, lectures, seminars, critiques, tutorials, presentations and work-based learning. You may also wish to undertake a negotiated placement in an applied or community context.

It’s important to realise that the time spent with a tutor during formally scheduled activities is only a small part of the learning time identified for a module. You’ll also be expected to spend a significant amount of time in guided independent study, such as general background reading, preparing for seminar activities and working on assignments. We are committed to supporting you throughout your learning journey, but as time progresses our guidance will become less structured and prescriptive. It‘s expected that you’ll demonstrate significant independence in your study, taking responsibility for the management of your own learning time and increasing in autonomy as your progress through the programme.

The assessment strategy for the programme is designed to help you achieve the overall aims of the programme, as well as the learning outcomes for individual modules. As well as being a way to assess your achievement, assessment also helps you to organise and develop your learning. Assessment feedback can help you develop your skills and an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

The types of assessment you’ll be required to complete fall into two general categories, formative and summative. You’ll have formative assessment to help you learn and develop your knowledge and skills and summative assessment on which you are graded. Formative assessment will take place via tutorial discussion, group workshops including peer and tutor review, and guidance on work in progress. Formative feedback will be provided face-to-face via discussion, online or in written form. Summative assessments consist of both practical and theoretical work. These will include practical projects, presentations, and written assessments in the form of essays, portfolios, funding bids and impact reports, practical portfolios, proposal documents and academic essays.


The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • The Arts and Cultural Landscape
  • The Professional Practitioner
  • Applied Arts: Models and Practitioners
  • Inception to Impact: Project Design, Funding and Evaluation
  • Masters Project (Full Time)
  • Masters Project (Part Time)
  • Masters Dissertation (Full Time)
  • Masters Dissertation (Part Time)
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 42%, Practical exams 58%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 83%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 17%


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Nicola Shaw
Programme Leader

+44 (0)1204 903317

Sarah Weston
Admissions Tutor

Beccy Barnes
Admissions Tutor

+44 (0)1204 903263

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton

+44 (0)1204 903903

Related courses

MA (Specialist Title) via Creative Practice

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MA Applied and Community Arts (with Specialism)

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MA Arts Management

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Postgraduate Options

PGCE M Post Graduate Certificate in Education 14+ (Art, Creative Practice and Performance)

Mode of study
1 Years

University of Bolton


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Help Centre

We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

Part of the University of Bolton Group

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Alliance learning
Anderton centre2
RiSE pos rgb logo
QQA Scheme Participant