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Community Organising

MA ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


This course is only open for application for deferred entry (ie, students wishing to start in 2016). It is not available for 2015 entry.

Small crowd holding up banner - London Citizens: making London a Living Wage City

Community organising is about bringing people together to achieve change through political action. The first of its kind in the UK, this programme will take you to the heart of community-led action in the East End of London. Joining Citizens UK – the country’s largest and most diverse broad-based alliance and the power behind the Living Wage campaign – you will experience community organising as well as achieve an advanced understanding of the theory, history and practice of the movement in the wider context of contemporary social, political and economic change. The programme is led by Professor Jane Wills, with Lord Maurice Glasman (London Metropolitan University) and Neil Jameson (Executive Director of Citizens UK).

This programme:

  • provides you with the intellectual and practical training required to work as a community organiser, or in a related field
  • offers you five months’ experience as a community organiser with Citizens UK, or an ongoing placement with your current employer
  • introduces you to a range of voices – including academic, activist, local authority and charity – to bring you the reality of issues being faced in communities and the campaigns undertaken around them
  • flexible study options make it ideal for those already working in the sector, as well as those looking to expand their knowledge and experience.

Why study MA Community Organising at Queen Mary?

The School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London is recognised as an international centre for excellence in teaching and research. Our work is at the forefront of human geography, shaping debates and providing significant new insight and understanding. We are also known for our friendly, collegial and welcoming ethos and are home to many of contemporary human geography’s best known scholars. Almost 80 per cent of the School’s research outputs (books and articles) are rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) placing it 5th in the UK for this measure. Scores increased across all areas and the School is ranked joint 11th for geography in the UK overall.

  • All students have the opportunity to work on a placement as an organiser with Citizens UK, the broad-based alliance that has pioneered the London living wage, now benefiting thousands of low-paid Londoners.
  • Other ongoing Citizens’ campaigns include: CitySafe to foster community safety; demands for affordable housing and community land trusts; and efforts to get young people into jobs.
  • Our work is at the forefront of human geography, shaping debates and providing significant new insight and understanding.


As a postgraduate student in the School of Geography you will be invited to weekly research seminars as well as several research frameworks sessions with top-level academic researchers. Research students have individual desk and computing space in dedicated offices within the School of Geography and access to facilities for specialist statistical and Geographical Information System (GIS) analyses, desktop publishing and the processing of video and electronic images.

Queen Mary is a part of the University of London, so students have access to the facilities, learning resources and libraries across the group’s institutions. Students can also use the first-rate resources of other libraries with London collections (e.g. the British Library).

Work on a new Graduate Centre is underway and once complete will provide 24-hour access to work areas tailored specifically to the needs and working patterns of postgraduates. A 200-seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms, reception area with terrace, student enterprise hub, landscaped courtyard and office space will be among the building’s features.


There is a Student Village on the Mile End campus with more than 2,000 rooms available to students. Many of them are en-suite with great facilities close by from a launderette to shops and cafes. Living on campus makes it easy to get to the Library and lectures only a short walk away. Read more on the Residences website.


Programme outline

The programme is made up of 180 credits and consists of the following modules:

Core module (60 credits)

Dissertation of 15,000 words (GEG7107)

Compulsory modules (60 and 30 credits)

  • Community Organising in Practice (GEG7401 - 60 credits, including seminars alongside a placement with Citizens UK)
  • The Theory and History of Community Organising (GEG7405 - 30 credits)
  • Geographical Thought and Practice (GEG7120 - 30 credits).

PgCert option

The Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) option (one year full-time) is based entirely on the core module Community Organising in Practice (including a five-month placement working part-time as a community organiser with Citizens UK).

For more information visit the the School of Geography website and module directory.

For enquiries, contact the Postgraduate Administrator: 020 7882 8165 or email

Entry requirements

An upper second class honours degree or higher in a humanities or social science subject from a UK university (or an equivalent international qualification) together with two supportive references is required. Candidates are expected to have good English language ability and to meet the standard of the IELTS, or equivalent, at a level of 7.0. Read more about English language requirements. If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office on +44 (0) 7882 5533 or email

It is not necessary to have a first degree in geography and we welcome applicants from different backgrounds in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

In addition to the standard entry requirements, you are expected to have the skills and/or aptitude to work as a community organiser on placement with Citizens UK. Candidates will be interviewed and may be asked to provide examples of written work.

For detailed country-specific entry requirements please visit the International section.

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You are assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in formal classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


All modules are assessed through coursework. This includes essay writing, report writing, presentations and the production of a short video. You also complete a 15,000-word dissertation that counts towards a third of the total marks for the programme.


You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation. You will be assigned an academic supervisor from the School of Geography. Your supervisor will provide guidance and advice on your dissertation research. You will meet your supervisor at least six times from January through to June in order to ensure that work is on track for completion.

Academic lead

This programme is currently led by Professor Jane Wills, Professor of Human Geography.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2015 entry

Tuition fees for International students

2015 entry


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate Employment

The MA Community Organising places students at the very heart of communities tackling issues and challenges that affect people every day. From city safety to housing quality, workers' pay to social care, our students undertake a placement with Citizens UK as part of their studies to help communities build power and hold politicians and decision makers to account.

Recent students have also 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.

Students produce reports at the end of their studies each year and these films are a great way to see community work in action. Click here to see the work on the Class of 2013/14 or go to their YouTube channel.

Find out more about Citizens UK.


Courtney Cross,
MA Community Organising Class of 2014

Students by the canal

"The Community Organising course at Queen Mary is unique in that it offers the chance to learn how to 'do politics' without getting caught up in partisan agendas. I was attracted to the programme because it combines the practical with the theoretical, and allows students the opportunity to learn the theory and history of organising and to gain valuable hands on experience within the local community.

"In my work organising with students at Queen Mary, my team and I have engaged students politically and democratically both on campus and throughout the greater community of Tower Hamlets. I have enjoyed watching students develop their leadership skills, and engage with their neighbours. The university experience is often fairly straight forward: you come to uni, make some friends, work hard to get a degree, and move on to bigger and better things. Queen Mary University is challenging that status quo, and reminding students why it is so beneficial to be present within your current context, and great things are happening as a result.

"Coming towards the end of my course, I'm hoping I can put my skills to good use. I would love to find a way to organise with local communities around issues they are passionate about, and possibly even continue my work with university students. This programme is truly life changing in that it challenges conventional perceptions of politics, and affords the opportunity to meet unique, passionate citizens from diverse backgrounds who truly care about improving their communities."


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