Master of Arts (MA) courses span a range of subjects from history and design to languages, media, music and performance. If you're considering postgraduate study, here are five of the more unusual programmes to help get you thinking outside the box
Alongside the MSc, MA degrees are the most popular form of Masters study. As their name suggests, courses focus on arts and humanities disciplines and they can be studied at a variety of institutions. In fact, there are even dedicated arts universities such as the University for the Creative Arts, Goldsmiths University of London, Arts University Bournemouth and Central Saint Martins.
While not always necessary to secure work, a Master of Arts could give you the edge in the incredibly competitive creative industries.
To find out more about the length of courses, what they involve and typical costs, see what is a Masters degree?
MA Directing Circus
At the Bath School of Music and Performing Arts, part of Bath Spa University, you can study for an MA in Directing Circus.
During this one-year course you'll study the roles, strategies and practical skills of directing circus focusing on two areas - the director as author and the director as facilitator.
As part of the programme, you'll take part in a professional collaboration, which includes placements with leading UK contemporary circus companies. Other modules include:
- Research Methodologies and Context
- Directing Circus One: Performer as Source
- Circus Directing Two: Director as Author
- Major Project.
Studying at the institution's Kingswood site, which boasts three aerial spaces and a mirrored studio, teaching takes the form of workshops, seminars and off-site visits to rehearsing companies.
In the 2022/23 academic year, UK students will pay £7,715 in tuition fees. Learn more about your postgraduate funding options.
MA Comedy Writing
Falmouth University runs a two-year, part-time MA in Comedy Writing.
On this online course you'll learn how to write comedy sketches, sitcoms and dramas for platforms such as TV, film and radio while studying the work of renowned writers and directors. You'll develop a comedy-writing portfolio made up of scripts and treatments alongside learning how to structure your working practice.
Five modules make up the programme:
- Comic Storytelling for Screen and Audio
- Screen Industries: Professional Development in Comedy
- Individual Comedy Script Development
- Comedy Writers Room: Collaborative Script Development
- Final Major Project.
The course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, webinars, guest talks and discussion forums, with students expected to dedicate at least 20-25 hours per week to their studies. Read more about online learning.
An honours degree or Level 6 equivalent is desirable for entry, although those without formal qualifications are also encouraged to apply. As part of your application, you'll need to submit five pages of script for radio, TV or film.
In 2022/23, UK students will pay £11,795 in fees.
Find an MA course
With so many programmes to choose from, finding a course and making a decision can be tricky. To pick a course that's right for you, start your research by searching for a relevant MA.
MA Immersive Factual Storytelling
At University College London's Bloomsbury campus you can study for an MA in Immersive Factual Storytelling.
Taking one year to study full time at a cost of £16,500 to UK students, the programme gives you the practical tools and confidence to become a successful member of the international immersive VR/AR documentary community. It provides training in the use of 360º cameras, immersive sound equipment and computer graphics-based VR experiences in order for you to tell factual stories on immersive platforms.
As part of the course you'll participate in workshops, masterclasses and volunteer at industry events as well as study units like:
- Introduction to Immersive Factual Storytelling
- Sonic Experience Design and Production
- The Story and I - Finding the Form: A Practical Exploration of Storytelling
- History and Aesthetics of Documentary
- Interactive Factual Narratives
- Ethics and Editorial for Documentary.
Entry requirements state that you'll need a 2:1 Bachelors degree and students who can show evidence of active engagement with visual or audio storytelling, either in previous work or study experience, will have an advantage.
MA Popular Culture
If you have an interest in various aspects of British popular culture, particularly those produced and consumed since the late nineteenth century, then the MA Popular Culture at the University of Wolverhampton will be a good fit.
It covers a range of modules from a variety of disciplines such as history, English, sociology, religious studies and film. For example, you'll study:
- Theories and Concepts for the Analysis of Popular Culture
- Literature, Genre and Period
- Post-1900 Writers and their Work
- Crime of the Century - Murders and the Media
- Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Popular Consumerism in Britain 1900-1939
- The Sacred and Profane in Popular Culture
- Youth Subcultures and National Identity in Post-war Britain
The skills and knowledge gained on the course will be particularly useful for archivists, curators, researchers, librarians, writers and journalists and teachers.
Fees for UK students in 2022/23 cost £7,995 while international students pay more at £14,450. You'll need a 2:2 Bachelors degree in an art, humanities or social science subject for entry.
MA History of Ideas
At Birkbeck University of London almost all courses are taught during the evenings and on the MA History of Ideas course you'll usually spend two or three evenings a week attending two-hour seminars or lectures.
The history of ideas is an expanding field and the programme is concerned with excavating and understanding the lived reality of ideas. If you want to understand and investigate the relationship between ideas and actions across a variety of historical periods, geographical areas, and theoretical and methodological perspectives, then this is the degree for you.
The course allows you to delve into a huge selection of optional units such as:
- Ancient Knowledge
- Britain and Germany: The History of a Relationship 1815-1990
- Empires in Modern East Asia
- Gender in Britain
- Globalisation and the Rise of the Modern Consumer
- Madness and its Meanings
- Magic, Science and Religion in the Renaissance
- Queens and Empresses 300-1000
- The Two Irelands 1911-1998
- Vice and the Victorians: Moral and Social Reform in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.
Graduates of the MA will be able to pursue careers in research, archiving, education, heritage, publishing, journalism and the media.
You'll need a 2:2 to gain a place on the course, with fees costing UK students £9,030 in 2022/23.
Other interesting programmes
- MA Music Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama - this conservatoire style-training gives students of music and theatre the chance to hone their performance and creative skills.
- MA Cities, Central Saint Martins - Explores alternative, creative approaches to city-making.
- MA Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management, University of York - The course provides practical experience in the latest conservation techniques and an opportunity to work with leading conservation studios.
- MA The Beatles: Music Industry and Heritage, University of Liverpool - Investigates how the Beatles, their music and their story are bound up within an increasing number of creative and cultural industries.
- MA Writing for Young People, Bath Spa University - available both on-campus and online, the course is designed for writers of children and young adult books hoping to complete a novel.
Obviously, the courses highlighted in this article don't fully represent the scope of Master of Arts subjects available. Wherever your interest lies within arts and humanities, by searching for a Masters you're bound to discover a programme that meets your needs.
With so many courses on offer it can be a challenge to narrow down your options. For help with choosing a programme, see which Masters is right for me?