The School of Geography

Prospective Students menu

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).

Join this programme to:

  • develop the intellectual and practical training required to work as a community organiser, or in a related field
  • experience five months as a community organiser with Citizens UK, or undertake an ongoing placement with your current employer
  • hear a range of voices – including academic, activist, local authority and charity – that communicate the reality of the issues being faced in communities and the campaigns undertaken around them
  • benefit from flexible study options which make this programme ideal for those already working in the sector, as well as those looking to expand their knowledge and experience.

Become a part of QMUL Geography

  • We are 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 our research outputs (books and articles) are rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) placing us 5th in the UK for this measure. Our research scores increased across all areas in the latest UK score of research excellence (REF 2014) and we're ranked joint 11th for geography in the UK overall. We're also proud to feature in the top 100 departments in the world to study geography (QS World University rankings 2015)
  • Funding: QMUL is offering bursaries of £10,000 for 2015 entry for UK/EU students who started their undergraduate degrees in 2012. Read more about masters fees and funding.
  • We're a School that cares about the world beyond the university, working with a range of community groups, artists, cultural and heritage institutions and policy makers, particularly here in East London. Our passion is to demonstrate through research and teaching the intellectual and political significance of geographical research and understanding. We encourage our students to become part of this vibrant intellectual culture.


  • Weekly research seminars: As a postgraduate student with us you will be invited to weekly research seminars as well as several research frameworks sessions with top-level academic researchers
  • Individual working space: 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
  • University of London network: Queen Mary is a part of the University of London, so our students have access to the facilities, learning resources and libraries across the group's institutions. You can also use the first-rate resources of other libraries with London collections (e.g. the British Library).


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

Core module (60 credits)

Dissertation of 15,000 words

Compulsory modules (30 credits unless stated)

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

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).


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. 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 of London 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."


Bookmark and Share
Return to top