Creative Practice - MA
Do you believe in the power of creativity to highlight a cause, preserve history, leave a lasting legacy, bring joy, enrich, and sometimes transform people’s lives? If so, our MA will allow you to develop best practice models for participatory research when working with others to make art that is meaningful to them. Capitalising on the vast and varied expertise of our staff, you’ll draw on best practice and real-life challenges of creative practice, from how to increase your chances of external funding success, to avoiding some of the legal pitfalls, and increasing public engagement.
Month of entry
Mode of study
- Full time, Part time
Fees for 2023 entry
- UK - Full time £8,900 per year. Part time £4,900 per year.
International - £17,700 per year.
Duration of study
- Full time - 1 year, Part time - 2 years
Why study Creative Practice at Keele University?
Our MA in Creative Practice aims to give you the tools and techniques to feed your creativity and put it to work practically and innovatively in partnership with organisations, communities and the public. You’ll learn how to develop ideas with participants, engaging, informing and inspiring them through creative work.
Aimed at creative practitioners, recent graduates and professionals, it is designed to prepare you to develop collaborative creative arts projects or research, raising your awareness of likely cultural, technological, social, legal and political considerations, while strengthening your own creative practice.
One of the major strengths of this course is the sheer breadth of our faculty’s experience in arts-based participatory research, not to mention our excellent links with arts organisations, such as the British Ceramics Biennial and New Vic Theatre, through Keele Deal Culture and coCreate. You will learn how to fuse different artistic practices, or tailor your own medium or genre to the needs of your collaborators.
The emphasis is on practical application, providing opportunities to develop collaborative projects, undertake a work placement and be taught by a group of historians, environmentalists, activists, acclaimed composers and musicians, published writers, film makers, prize-winning poets and novelists. Like Albert Einstein, they believe that ‘creativity is contagious’ and you should ‘pass it on’, and will share experiences of developing projects with diverse communities, managing conflict, designing art with non-professionals or sourcing funding for their practice.
Their diverse subject matter and innovative collaborative research ranges from projects tackling migration and displacement (MADAR), to supporting communities to develop ideas to access dormant brownfield land for social value (Towards an Urban Commons). From an online artefact on living with persistent pain (Circling), to a geopoetics workshop on the site of a former colliery to mark the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster, and performance on mining (SEAMS), and many more. In 2019, 700 visitors, including local school groups, came together for the Stoking Curiosity Festival at the historic Spode Works in Stoke-on-Trent, which provided the opportunity for curious encounters with a range of 90 different activities relating to University and community-led projects.
You’ll also be studying at a University where you can immerse yourself in a wide range of creative and cultural events and societies, courtesy of ArtsKeele, giving you access to valuable networks of professional contacts. The fortnightly Keele Hall Readings, for instance, last year featured acclaimed writer Okechukwu Nzelu, whose first book won a Betty Trask Award, and Caleb Parkin, self-proclaimed 'day-glo queero techno eco poet and facilitator'.
While the skills and knowledge you develop on the MA Creative Practice are particularly pertinent to roles in arts, culture, heritage, community engagement and consultation, public health and planning, marketing or public relations, the tools and techniques you learn will prove useful in almost any career.
You’ll benefit from excellent communications, critical thinking, problem-solving and project management skills. Creativity – or the ability to solve problems in original ways – regularly tops the list of the soft skills demanded by employers and organisations in any sector need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks. The MA also provides an excellent foundation for further doctoral (PhD) training or academia, here in the UK, Europe or the rest of the world.
Other courses you might be interested in:
The underlying aim of this course is to prepare you to co-create or support the production of imaginative, impactful, meaningful arts-based interventions in collaboration with participants, external partners and audiences.
From the outset, your focus is on the development of an independent project which utilises participatory creative practice. This could, for example, include: a cultural or heritage project designed to provide participants with agency over their identities; a workshop or series of masterclasses held in schools or the community to educate through participatory discovery; arts-based research into how people understand a particular space or building, or research designed to inform creative processes or activities themselves.
Culminating in a fully conceptualised project, you’ll undertake a journey of self-discovery which takes you through the principles and processes required to devise collaborative arts activity, such as funding sources, logistics, how to establish a contract with an external partner, or how to manage conflict and contestation in your work.
The MA Creative Practice can be studied as either a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course, with start dates in September. You will complete 180 credits, comprising one optional module (30 credits) and five compulsory modules (150 credits).
The core modules include the substantive Creative Practice Independent Project module, which provides an exciting opportunity to work, potentially in collaboration with external partners, to devise an educational, theatrical, artistic or community-based creative project. The type of practice you choose can be as creative as you like and is not limited to one specific discipline – anything from dance, design, music or magazine production, to sewing, pottery, filmmaking, fine art and more.
For your optional module, you can choose to undertake a work placement, for example, in a school, theatre, gallery, museum, or creative business. Students from this School previously, for example, developed branding and social content for Baba Baboon, a promotional hub all about Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire.
The course can also be studied on a modular basis, with individual modules taken as CPD short courses, with the option to be subsequently counted towards a full MA.
Core Taught Modules
- CPA-40001 Collaborative Working: Theory and Methods (15 credits)
Drawing on recent work in the field, this module introduces you to key theories and approaches in arts-based participatory practice, deepening your theoretical and critical understanding of creative practice and research. Studying various practices and approaches, including cultural animation, walking art and geopoetics, it covers some of the challenges, for example, in creating a common purpose, distributing leadership or holding partners to account, and how to overcome them. You’ll learn more about how to plan and deliver partnership work, taking account of ethics, regulatory compliance and legal frameworks.
- HIS-40017 Research Skills in the Humanities (15 credits)
You will receive training in the practical and technical skills necessary for postgraduate research in the humanities, so you will be able to plan, then find and use the necessary resources for your research and writing. This includes: relevant University regulations; procedures for managing a research degree; the differences between popular press dissemination of research and academic forms; how to identify issues of research ethic affecting your work; and how to use real-world and digital archives and be creative in looking for primary research sources, such as film archives, digitised magazines and pamphlets, first editions of out of print literature. You will also develop essential personal and professional skills in time, stress and project management.
- CPA-40003 Collaborative Working: Practice and Evaluation (15 credits)
This module introduces you to a range of recent, ground-breaking collaborative arts-based interventions using a variety of arts-based methods, including creative writing, public heritage, public history, visual methods and ethnography. Examples includeThe Poetry Pharmacy, Circling and Decommissioning the 20th Century. This is supported by planning practice sessions covering project planning, grant applications, resource management, ethics and health and safety documentation. The goal is to help you devise imaginative and impactful arts-based practice, giving you the tools to overcome some of the challenges posed by shared projects and develop the skills for team working and collaboration for all forms of creative practice.
- HIS-40016 Reflective Practice in the Humanities (15 credits)
Reflective practice describes a systematic approach to reflection that involves creating a habit, structure and routine around reflecting on our experiences and engaging in continuous learning. Whether you choose to learn from experience as an individual or with others, there are many benefits to be gained from sharing ideas, experiences and considering how you can change or improve your creative practice. Throughout this module, you will be asked to explore the intellectual connections between your research area and wider fields of study. We look at ‘big ideas’ relevant to contemporary society, such as the concept of ‘post truth’, ‘big data’ and the pulling down of statues, and we work to understand them from the perspective of our disciplines.
Semester 1, 2 and 3
- CPA-40005 Creative Practice Independent Project (90 credits)
The project is your chance to apply the skills and understanding you develop during the course to conceive, devise, and deliver an independent, real-world research project and demonstrate your understanding of the legal, ethical and governance dimensions of conducting arts-based participatory research and practice. You begin planning your project from the start of the course, giving you time to develop your thinking and allow for research and experimentation. You’ll be supported by a programme of workshops to help assess the feasibility of your ideas and establish what needs to be done to realise them. Projects may involve collaboration with other students and external partners and you have the freedom to choose your own medium, be it writing, creative media, heritage, music, pottery, photography, human geography or anything else. Graduates from this School regularly share their different art forms within the community via locations as diverse as car boot sales, train stations, primary schools and the back of a converted ambulance.
You will choose one of the following modules.
- ENG-40041 The Writer in the Community (30 credits)
If you are interested in gaining real-life, practical experience of the cultural landscape in which writers typically work, this optional project-based module gives you the chance to participate in a 12-week project within our local community. Possible projects include: designing and delivering creative writing workshops; mentoring less experienced writers; steering a literary editing project; setting up and putting on a literary event; or creating a web-based literary resource. Recent examples have included creating audio poetry experiences linked to natural spaces; using QR codes to merge poetry and ambient music; and being The Car Boot Poet.
- ENG-40057 Work Placement for Humanities (30 credits)
You have an opportunity to spend around 100 hours on work placement in an environment where your research, analytical, and communication skills can be put to use in a meaningful way, such as a local museum, theatre, library, school, marketing company, local newspaper or radio station. For example, you may research and produce materials to advertise or support an exhibit or performance, or you might be able to contribute material to the project itself, in the form of creative pieces or through education-based activities. One of our PhDs student undertook a placement to design a blog and produce website content for the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in Lichfield. You will gain valuable experience that you can apply in the future and gain a deeper understanding of what might be expected in collaborative projects.
- MDS-40016 Creative Media Practice (30 credits)
Combining theory with hands-on experience, you’ll develop a stronger working sense of using film, video, photography or digital media. You will learn how to conceptualise, plan and manage a large media project. You’ll eventually pitch your creative project to tutors and peers.
Academic Entry Requirements
- Undergraduate degree with second class upper division (2:1) in a relevant subject within the arts, humanities or a social science discipline or equivalent
- Applicants with other qualifications and appropriate professional experience may be considered on an individual basis
English Language Entry Requirement for International Students
- IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component
Keele University is located on a beautiful campus and has all the facilities of a small town. Student accommodation, shops, restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance of the teaching buildings. This is a very cost effective way to live and to reduce your living costs.
Planning your funding
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our scholarships and bursaries webpage for more information.
Whether your goal is to become a self-employed artist, engage in public arts projects or follow a broader path in arts administration, heritage or curation, our MA Creative Practice could open doors to creative and cultural networks across the globe.
The multi- and transdisciplinary nature of our course deliberately reflects the variety of the world’s creative industry, enabling you to study applied theory and practice across a range of creative mediums, from crafts and culture to publishing or performance art, and the many different ways to encourage audiences to engage with them.
There are 3.2 million people employed in the wider creative economy in the UK alone, representing 9.6 per cent of all jobs, according to figures published by the Creative Industries Council in 2021. Depending on your interests, you could pursue a career as an artist, performer, composer or creative, or focus on careers which support or promote creative practice, for example, in marketing, publicity, consultancy and teaching.
Taking your studies to postgraduate level develops a range of personal and professional skills, including clear and critical thinking, originality, problem-solving, innovative questioning and, of course, excellent communication. Much sought-after by employers, these skills can open doors to a wide range of careers from teaching to management consulting. Alternatively, you may also consider further study at doctorate level.
Positions may include:
- Creative director
- Documentary maker
- Events manager
- Marketing executive
- PR Officer
Teaching, learning and assessment
How you'll be taught
This course includes a combination of taught classes, lectures, seminars, individual and small group work and guided independent study. With smaller-sized classes, our ethos is very much about learning co-operatively and supportively in a friendly, nurturing environment, sharing your ideas with tutors and peers, and cultivating the practical and theoretical expertise needed to become reflective practitioners.
With the Independent Creative Practice Project, you’ll undertake a piece of advanced, independent arts-based participatory research in the field, supervised and supported by a member of staff with expertise in the area, who will provide 1:1 support and give feedback on your research and progress throughout the course.
The optional module enables you to expand your practical experience by focusing on a particular form of creative media practice, such as creative writing, film, video, photography or digital media, or via a work placement. You can organise a placement using your own contacts or capitalising on our links with a range of cultural and creative partners, for example, through Keele Deal Culture or coCreate.
If you choose the optional Writer in the Community module, you’ll be encouraged to engage with community organisations, such as local schools, libraries, museums and health groups, to organise and promote writing activities. One group of students from the School launched a creative literary magazine, the Orange Peel, on campus.
You’ll be encouraged to take advantage of ArtsKeele, the University’s vibrant arts programme, comprising art, music, live poetry readings, performances, public lectures and other cultural treats. For example, Keele Creative Writing Anthology provides opportunities to hear live readings from published award-winning poets and novelists, previously featuring Helen Mort, Jenna Clarke and Caleb Parkin. While Keele Concerts Society organises a mixed programme of internationally acclaimed music on campus and at the New Vic Theatre. Recent performances included a trio of folk singers and one of the world’s finest classical guitarists.
Teaching takes place over the first two semesters. There are no formal group classes during Semesters 2 and 3, but you consult with supervisors and access the University’s learning and teaching facilities and support services.
Semester 1 runs from the end of September to the end of January, with an assessment period in January.
Semester 2 runs from the last week of January to the middle of June, with the assessment period in June.
Semester 3 runs from June to the end of September.
How you’ll be assessed
Synthesis of theory and creative practice is integral to the course, so assessment is strongly linked to your independent project and your ideas, progress, knowledge understanding of all aspects of participatory or community-based creative engagement. This includes the context in which it occurs and the potential positive impact in terms of health and wellbeing, place-making, community memory and identity. This is done through a variety of different methods: written assignments; essays; verbal presentations; ethics documentation; and portfolios.
Excellent preparation for your future career, you’ll be asked to give succinct presentations about your work and its progress, gaining confidence handling question and answer sessions. You’ll also learn to create and structure a creative brief to include an overview and detailed project plan. This will include aims, methods and practices, partners, intended audiences/participants, timeline and intended impacts, as well as safety, legal and ethical considerations.
Keele Postgraduate Association
Keele University is one of a handful of universities in the UK to have a dedicated students' union for postgraduate students. A fully registered charity, Keele Postgraduate Association serves as a focal point for the social life and welfare needs of all postgraduate students during their time at Keele.
Hugely popular, the KPA Clubhouse (near Horwood Hall) provides a dedicated postgraduate social space and bar on campus, where you can grab a bite to eat and drink, sit quietly and read a book, or switch off from academic life at one of the many regular events organised throughout the year. The KPA also helps to host a variety of conferences, as well as other academic and career sessions, to give you and your fellow postgraduates the opportunities to come together to discuss your research, and develop your skills and networks.
The School of Humanities has a long history of interdisciplinary research, teaching and learning. You’ll be taught by a committed, supportive community of academics and practitioners whose expertise spans a huge range of creative disciplines and who regularly undertake arts-based participatory practice or public engagement.
We enjoy significant contributions from other academics within the University’s coCREATE network, which brings together researchers with a passion for public engagement together with local, national and international partners and communities. From large third-sector organisations to small charities and individual artists, each partner works with us to design and deliver public engagement activities to the wider community, whether here in the UK or globally. Local partners include B arts (Beavers Arts ltd), the New Vic theatre, Restoke and Urban Wilderness.
Teaching team includes:
Dr Pawas Bisht, Lecturer– Pawas lectures in media, culture and creative practice. In his work as a researcher and experienced documentary filmmaker, he examines the intersections of media, memory and politics at both individual and collective levels. He has worked on diverse subjects including the Bhopal Gas Disaster, a portrait of the British designers Pat Albeck and Peter Rice, and an examination of the politics of Gulag memory on the Solovetsky Islands in Russia’s Far North.
Professor Ceri Morgan, Senior Lecturer – A researcher-practitioner, Ceri works on literary geographies, place-writing and geohumanities. Since 2014, she has animated participatory creative workshops or ‘happenings’ on a variety of themes, including mining, food, persistent pain, and deindustrialisation. Considering creativity to be an everyday practice, Ceri plays with its potential to reimagine spaces and places in ways which are hopefully inclusive. Interested in mobilities and reduced mobilities, she set up online readings, ‘Microclimates’, in response to social distancing and isolation measures prompted by Covid 19. She has published flash-fiction, creative nonfiction, and prose-poetry. Tapping Ware, her story about the Emma Bridgewater Factory and antique moulds store at Spode was in the top three Staffordshire-based stories in the Potteries Prize 2019, while her prose-poem, Avenue Bernard was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 extra and RTE Radio 1 in 2020.
Ben Anderson, Lecturer – Ben’s work revolves around the interaction between people and their environments in the modern era, with a particular focus on outdoors leisure as a generator of place, the use and appropriation of space for recreational purposes, the intersection of my work with bottom-up heritage and community projects, and embodied environmentalism. His first book, Cities, Mountains and Being Modern in fin-de-siècle England and Germany was published in 2020 by Palgrave Macmillan.
Professor Miroslav Spasov, Professor – A composer and music director, Miroslav specialises in composition and creative music technology, writing instrumental and interactive electroacoustic music. His works have been performed in festivals and solo concerts in Europe and North and South America.
Mandy McAteer, Lecturer – Mandy studied photography at the University of Westminster before gaining an MA in Contemporary Visual Culture at Keele. Her specialist areas of practice are moving and still image production. She is interested in notions of cultural identity, stigma, discrimination, the visual representation of marginalised groups, and the sense of ‘otherness’. As well as working in a commercial context for clients such as Amnesty International and Traidcraft, she has had numerous commissions for both moving and still imagery featuring subject matter such as mental health, refugees and Asylum Seekers.
James McAteer, Lecturer – James teaches digital video and supports students with their independent study projects. He is particularly interested in the representation of mental illness in film and other media forms.
James Sheard, Senior Lecturer – author of Scattering Eva (Jonathan Cape, 2005), shortlisted for both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glenn Dimplex Award, Dammtor (Jonathan Cape, 2010) and The Abandoned Settlements (Jonathan Cape, 2017), which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Emma Henderson, Lecturer – author of Grace Williams Says It Loud (Sceptre, 2011), which won the McKitterick Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ First Book Award, the Authors’ Club First Novel Award, the Wellcome Book Prize and was runner-up for the Mind Book of the Year. Her second novel The Valentine House (Sceptre, 2017), which was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Gold Crown Award.
Professor Tim Lustig, Profession in American Literature – author of Henry James and the Ghostly (1994) and Knight Prisoner: Thomas Malory Then and Now (2013), he edited the World's Classics edition of 'The Turn of the Screw' and has more recently edited a collection of essays with James Peacock, Diseases and Disorders in Contemporary Fiction: The Syndrome Syndrome (2013). Tim's most recent publication (2019) is a critical edition of The Sacred Fount, which forms part of Cambridge University Press' The Complete Fiction of Henry James. His research interests lie in British and American children's writing, c.1850-1950.
The School of Humanities delivers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in the discipline areas of English Literature/Creative Writing, Film Studies, History, Media, Communications and Creative Practice, and Music Production and Sound Design. As well as traditional teaching spaces offering easy access to lecture and seminar rooms, library facilities and computer laboratories as appropriate, we also have an impressive range of specialist creative facilities.
Open 24/7, the dedicated Media Building houses extensive digital media production facilities, including film and photography studios and digital post-production labs with access to professional media production equipment and software as part of the programme. They include:
- Two Apple Macintosh labs with industry standard software such as Premiere Pro, Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Motion, Sound Pro and Live Type
- A range of professional digital video, photographic and sound equipment
- A professional photographic studio and print finishing room with large scale print equipment
- An exhibition space and workshop for the design of multimedia installations
- A sound recording booth for voiceovers and podcasts
- A screening room with specialist surround sound environment
The Music Department hosts five studio areas with three computer music labs and areas for sound recording, mixing and mastering, surround sound, computer music composition, sound design, MIDI sequencing, audio-visual editing, film and videogames scoring. Access to the studios and practice rooms is available 24/7 via an electronic key system.
There are eight practice rooms, which each come with a piano, while five of them have grand pianos. There are dedicated rooms for drummers, popular music and jazz practice rooms with drum kits, PA systems, keyboards and guitar/bass amplification.
We have a motion capture facility with Octaphonic audio and two large rehearsal spaces for orchestras, bands and choirs, including the Keele University Chapel. We also offer a comprehensive range of software, including Logic Pro, Ableton Live Suite, Max MSP, Pro Tools, Sibelius and Final Cut Pro, and have a huge range of instruments and microphones available to record and/or loan.
Music and music technology facilities are housed within three sites, all within walking distance:
- The Clock House: This beautiful early 19th century building features purpose-built studios for music technology, practice rooms, teaching spaces and offices. There are computer labs, project studios and a high-spec recording studio.
- Lindsay Studios: Adjacent to the Music Department, this complex houses two large lecture areas with multimedia presentations and projection facilities. There is a recording studio with two live rooms, an isolation recording booth and large performance space. The Lindsay Recording Studio can be used to record anything from a soloist to a full orchestra.
- The Chapel: Located in the heart of Campus, hosts a church organ, grand piano and an upright piano. The chapel is used for orchestra rehearsals, performances and recitals.
The Keele Music Forum organises recitals, workshops and research seminars. There are also numerous music societies you can get involved in through the Students’ Union, including four professionally-conducted societies – Keele Philharmonic Orchestra, Keele Voices, Keele Concert Band and Keele Brass Band.
The University also has its own art gallery, located in the Chancellor’s Building, which hosts an eclectic mix of exhibitions and events.