MA Media and Cultural Studies
What have been your career highlights so far?
I have worked in Higher Education for 12 years and my career highlights so far are to witness just how far some of my first students have come in terms of their own careers. Many have established a career in the creative industries, others have set up creative businesses and some have achieved a doctorate or other further qualifications. In some cases, I have had the chance to work with former students – that’s very enjoyable and satisfying.
What is your favourite thing about working at Birmingham City University?
There is a strong sense of community at BCU which makes it a great place to work and study. For me, it is about the people, colleagues, students and our alumni. But location is also important and as we are in the city centre, we are close to industry, to the cultural quarters and are very accessible to everyone.
How did you come to your current role, what have you done before Birmingham City University?
Before becoming an academic I ran a small creative industries business. First as a designer, supplying international and UK companies. Then I developed that into a creative industry consultancy, working with Arts Council England, with cultural organisations and local authorities.
What do you think sets the School of Media apart from other university media departments?
Birmingham School of Media is distinctive because of its relationships with industry. This is evidenced in our professional collaborations, in our research activities and our industry guest speakers. This is a dynamic two-way relationship which keeps us up to date with developments but also allows us to contribute and support industry through our research projects.
What are your main responsibilities as Course Leader?
As course leader, I have many responsibilities! First, I ensure the curriculum is up to date, that it is refreshed every year and that I include a diverse range of lecturers and guest speakers to teach. It is also important to focus on recruiting students and making sure we have the right structures to support our students in their learning and development. The MA courses are just 12 months, making this an intense experience for the students. It is crucial that they gain the expertise in their chosen field and feel prepared for the next stage in their life. In that sense, my work includes listening to student’s needs and responding as best I can.
What are your specialist areas of expertise?
My expertise in my research focuses on cultural entrepreneurship and cultural policy. This informs my teaching and helps me to keep up to date with current debates in the creative and media industries.
What are your research interests?
My research interests are in cultural policy and cultural entrepreneurship, with a specific interest in and inequalities in the cultural and creative industries workforce. Recent projects include working on projects which seek to address the lack of diversity in cultural leadership.
What can prospective students look forward to most when they join your course?
Prospective students can look forward to joining a dynamic community of scholars, professionals and peers who are enthusiastic about the challenges and opportunities in contemporary media and cultural practice. Working in collaboration, at Birmingham School of Media, we nurture a creative environment in which individuals can explore and learn.
What are your top tips for students thinking about joining your course?
It is important to do your research and to ensure the course is right for you. We have a lot of information on the website but if possible, speak to a course leader and to past students. Students need to feel the course will suit their personal aspirations and meet their expectations.
Why do you think it’s important to study a MA?
An MA is a significant qualification – I should know, I have two MAs! Of course, it is important when it comes to standing out from the crowd for any job application. But it is mainly about developing expertise and confidence. Students who undertake an MA develop a much more focused way of working, enhancing their personal interests and deepening their understanding of a subject. It is also a time for experimenting and expanding professional contacts for their next step.
What do you believe it takes to work in the media industry?
Adaptability and a willingness to learn. Working in the media and in the creative industries is about your ability to keep up with a fast-changing industry which requires problem solving skills and the motivation to never stop learning. The creative and media industries are often characterised as highly networked so establishing and nurturing good relationships is also important. But it is important that all these skills can be developed and confidence will grow with the right kind of support.