Work placements

Getting involved with work placements and residencies is a great way to learn and make useful contacts.

Props department

Placement projects are based in arts and cultural organisations in Manchester (or areas within daily travelling distance). They are arranged by the Institute for Cultural Practices.

Each placement involves a minimum of twenty days work on a specific project, such as:

  • collections management
  • event development and evaluation
  • audience engagement
  • exhibition development
  • marketing and fundraising
  • digital and online media
  • educational programmes.

How long is a placement?

You start your placement in November/December and finish in May. This means that you get to see and be involved in various stages of the project that you would be working on, e.g. festival programme or exhibition project that span several months.

Spreading out the placement over several months also gives you the opportunity to be part of the organisation’s team over a longer period of time and get a good understanding of the institutional time, processes and practices.

Many students find this such a positive experience that they carry on working in their placement organisation when the work placement has finished, and each year a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts.

Is the placement credited?

Students write a work placement report that reflects on the undertaken project. You can take the work placement either as 15-credit OR 30-credit course.

Students who do the former also take another 60 credits of option courses in Semester 2. Students who do the latter, take one 30-credit option course in Semester 2

Can part-time students take part?

Part-time students who work already in an arts or cultural institution have the option to either take one of the placements we offer, or create a placement project within their organisation in collaboration with their line manager. These students can do their placement either in Year 1 or Year 2.

Examples of placements offered in 2018-19

Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, Manchester Central Library

Oral histories - the voices of real people - are a significant and extremely rich part of our collection. We hold more than 300 individual interviews, mostly with members of the local BAME community talking about life in Manchester. Currently, this material is only accessible on request to visiting researchers. The work placement student contributed to the development of an online sound archive to widen the reach of our collections. Training and support were provided for the tasks involved including collections research, audio editing, documenting, archiving, blogging and dissemination. This placement would suit those with an interest in digital collections and heritage, and/or an interest in BAME histories and experiences. The roles required attention to detail and an ability to work creatively within given processes and procedures.

Chetham's Library (Digital Humanities Assistant)

The student undertook high-resolution scanning and photography of items within Chetham’s Library’s archival collections with an initial emphasis on the Salford-based Mullineux collection. The images will be used for free open access online as part of the Library’s outreach programme. While induction and instruction will be given the post is only suitable for someone with high level IT and imaging skills, and the ability to understand and manage complex file structures and file naming conventions.

In Place of War (Project Assistant)

The project was run by the University of Manchester, Durham University, and In Place of War with the support of several local researchers and artists, combining insights from the field of academia with local arts practitioners on the ground. Project leads will form a partnership with local organisations and actors in each of the case countries to conduct the research and devise a toolkit for grassroots and NGO practitioners on the one hand, but also to co-produce art productions on the other. The latter include exhibitions, an audio archive, community performances and web-based content, all of which will be accessible to the communities in the countries themselves as well as to UK audiences. This role is to assist the CEO and Director of Research with the development of this project, involving research, evaluation and organisational aspects of the project.

Manchester Art Gallery (Curatorial Research Assistant)

The work placement student worked on this research project into the gallery’s artist files and archival material with an aim to digitise the wealth of supporting the information contained within.

  • Increasing the detail and accuracy of the information available on the gallery’s collection information system
  • Increase the level of information available through the gallery’s online collection website

Manchester International Festival (Project Assistant)

Placements were, as much as possible, tailored to the interests of the students. MIF worked with the candidate(s) on the shape/outline of the final placement.

Options included:

  • working within MIF’s Producing team, assisting with the research and development of commissions for the 2019 Festival. This is a unique opportunity to work with an experienced festival team on a unique festival model.
  • working within MIF’s Creative Engagement team – working on research and delivery of engagement or participatory programmes of work.

Manchester University Press (MUP Archival Research and Ebook Collections Project)

MUP is currently developing a number of projects to build the content and collections of our new digital platform, Manchester Hive. This placement comprised researching MUP’s publication history using internet resources and the MUP physical archive and preparing metadata on sections of the MUP backlist. The role also included other tasks, including checking ebook file content and working on Rights and Permissions. We are keen for the placement to provide students with the opportunity to use their Project Management skills, and have input on planning the precise structure and scope of the project as it develops. Skills required for this placement include confidence with internet research and using spreadsheets and databases, an organised and methodical approach, excellent attention to detail, a proactive attitude and the ability to work independently. This placement would be ideal for students with an interest in the publishing industry, or in archives and collection management.

National Trust Quarry Bank Mill (Programme Volunteer)

The placement involved working as a programming volunteer on the Peterloo Perspectives exhibition – looking at different accounts of the Peterloo massacre and how these are connected to Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey. This exhibition will open in April 2019. This was part of a wider programme at Quarry Bank on Rights of the Child and will involve working with archives, writing interpretation materials, supporting exhibition installation and designing evaluation tools. There will also be some visitor studies work looking at co-ordinating evaluation data and reporting.

Whitworth Art Gallery (Collections Assistant)

The role of the Collections Assistant involved working with the Assistant Curator (Fine Art) on all aspects of collections management for the Fine Art collection, including handling works on paper, accessioning new additions to the collection, checking locations, artist and artwork research and updating the Emu database.

Student experiences