Liberal Arts

Our new Liberal Arts courses provide the flexibility to tailor your degree to your interests.

What are liberal arts?

Liberal arts are among the earliest intellectual pursuits and are associated with the training, development, and empowerment of free citizens.

A degree in liberal arts will train you to engage with the issues that matter to you in the world.

You’ll have a unique opportunity to experience an interdisciplinary, challenge-led approach to research that responds to current topics such as the fourth industrial revolution, climate change, and urban inequalities.

Why study liberal arts at Manchester?

The BA in Liberal Arts (2022 entry and 2023 entry) and the BA in Liberal Arts with International Study (2022 entry and 2023 entry) at The University of Manchester will give you:

  • A wide range of optional course units, more than other degree courses.
  • A comprehensive look at the issues that matter to you.
  • A combination of learning through lectures, seminars, tutorials, and research workshops.
  • The opportunity to work with institutions such as John Rylands Library, Manchester Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, and Creative Manchester.
  • The option to study a language.
  • The option to study abroad for a year.

What will I study?

Liberal Arts at Manchester builds on the University's strengths in teaching, research and social responsibility in all parts of the curriculum. You'll make valuable connections and learn transferable skills for a range of careers. 

Louise Sethi / Humanities Careers Consultant
  • You'll study bespoke core liberal arts course units that guide you to think about the role and value of the arts in societies.
  • You'll enrich your understanding of key ideas through units across our different disciplines in the School. 
  • The opportunity to take a Minor subject through our Flexible Honours programme
  • Courses through the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning, to develop your interests.

Course structure

We offer you the opportunity to pick and choose optional course units alongside your core units on both Liberal Arts courses.

You can also take Liberal Arts as a Minor in addition to your course, through the Flexible Honours programme at Manchester. 

Core course units

Core course units

  • History of Humanities
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
  • Understanding Rhetoric
  • Arts and The City
  • Creative Manchester
  • Reflections

These core units are designed to train you in practices of interdisciplinarity and impact, which are key features of the degree. Our resources at the University and in the city come together to provide you with an unparalleled, world-class learning experience.

Optional course units

Optional course units

Unlike other Liberal Arts degrees, at Manchester, we offer alongside your core units, a series of optional course units each year. These allow you to pursue your interests while deepening your knowledge of key ideas across the arts. 

You can explore questions such as:

  • what it means to be human;
  • how science relates to society;
  • what a 'good life' looks like;
  • how philosophy differs around the world;
  • what we mean by terms like 'romanticism', 'modernism' and 'digital';
  • whether beauty can save the world. 

You will also have the option to choose units in different disciplines. Selected course units from across the University feature on all three years of your course.

These give you the opportunity to complement and enhance your knowledge while providing connections as you work towards your final year engagement project.

Thematic clusters

Thematic clusters

The course units you take are organised into four thematic clusters: 

  • Individuals, Identities and Beliefs
  • Societies, Cities and Civilisations
  • Technologies, Materials and Cultures
  • Environments, Sustainability and Social Responsibility

While the core units provide the foundations for developing your research skills, the thematic clusters allow you to pursue your interests and tailor your degree.

The clusters are designed to help you:

  • take options from a range of disciplines;
  • identify course units that suit your interests.

You are not required to take units from any particular cluster, you can focus on just one or mix a few.