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MA Community Organising

Programme Convenor: Professor Jane Wills, j.wills@qmul.ac.uk, 0207 882 2752/8200

The MA Community Organising is designed to provide an advanced understanding of the theory, history and practice of community organising in the wider context of contemporary academic debate about social, political and economic change. It provides the intellectual and practical training that postgraduate students require to work as a community organiser, or in a related field. At a broader level it is also designed to strengthen the cadre of community organisers being developed in the UK, through an ongoing partnership with Citizens UK.

Taking the MA Community Organising guarantees students the opportunity to work on a placement as an organiser with London Citizens, the broad-based alliance that has pioneered the London living wage, now benefiting thousands of low paid Londoners; CitySafe Havens to foster community safety; the demand for an earned regularisation to turn Strangers into Citizens; and laid the ground for a Community Land Trust as part of a People’s Olympics in 2012.

The programme is taught through a range of innovative pedagogical methods including seminars, student-led presentations and practical work experience.

We welcome part-time students who take the programme over two years – doing the core community organising modules and placement in the first year – and the research methods training and dissertation in the second year. Students are also invited to take the module Community Organising in Practice as a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Community Organising. Once taken, students can then opt to return and complete the final 2/3rds of the MA in future.

Fees are spread over two years for part-time students and those taking the PGCert pay a third of the full fees – for more information about fees, please consult here: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/tuitionfees/index.html

Recent students have taken the programme as part of their work with Spitalfields Music, Poplar HARCA and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association. Others have gone on to work for Citizens UK, Locality, Sussex Coast College in Hastings, and taken up posts with a housing association and in youth work after graduating.

Listen to a recording of John Atlas' talk to a Community Organising Open Seminar in the School of Geography at QMUL on Monday 31 October 2011. John is author of Seeds of Change - the story of ACORN. CLICK HERE

For an outline of the work of the first cohort of Community Organising students, and to view the films they produced, see MA Community Organising Report 2010-11

MA Community Organising Report 2011-12 (including links to the films produced)

MA Community Organising Report 2012-13


All students take the same modules:

The Theory and History of Community Organising GEG7405 (30 credits) taught on Thursday mornings, 10-12am in Semester 1 (12 weeks end September to mid December) assessed via 2 essays

Community Organising in Practice GEG7401 (60 credits: includes seminars alongside a placement as a community organiser with Citizens UK (estimated to last 200 hours over a five month period)) taught on Thursday afternoons, 2-4pm in both Semester 1 and 2 (24 weeks end September to mid December and mid January to end March) assessed via a short introduction to the placement, a placement report, personal reflection and a 5 minute film

Geographical Thought and Practice GEG7120 (30 credits) taught on Mondays 12-2pm in Semesters 1 and 2, providing an introduction to research philosophy, design and practice. Assessment includes the dissertation proposal.

Dissertation (Mode C 15 000 words, 60 credits) submitted at the end of August.


Programme Team
The programme team consists of Professor Jane Wills (convenor) and Lord Maurice Glasman, with the potential for all human geography staff at Queen Mary to act as dissertation supervisors. The programme has been developed in close liaison with Neil Jameson (Executive Director of Citizens UK). Outside speakers and experts are also invited into class and have included Arnie Graf, Jonathan Lange, Leo Penta (DICO, Germany), Phillip Blond (Respublica), Rev Angus Ritchie (the Centre for Contexutal Theology), Professor Luke Bretherton (Duke University), Professor Jamie Peck (UBC) and John Atlas (author of Seeds of Change).


For more detail:

MA Community Organising
MA Community Organising [PDF 5.13 MB]
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