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Skillset Media Academies launch ‘Build your own MA’ Programme

Skillset Media Academies have announced the introduction of a Build Your Own MA programme for their continuing professional development (CPD) training in the Creative Industries.

Build Your Own MA – being offered through ten Skillset Media Academies in England – has more than 75 industry-approved professional development modules on offer.

It represents a realignment of postgraduate education with professional training to reflect the media sector’s strategic development needs.

The programme has been developed by Skillset in response to calls from industry and government to better align higher education programmes with the needs of the industry, and will offer CPD that is designed to keep the UK’s media workforce ahead of the curve in this rapidly evolving digital environment.

And in a UK education first, Build Your Own MA CPD modules will carry credits towards postgraduate qualifications. This means that media professionals who complete any Build Your Own MA module will have the option of then joining that with further modules to earn a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma, or even a Master of Arts (MA) in Professional Media Practice. As the programme is comprised of individual CPD modules, it will be able to evolve to reflect the changes and technological developments within the industry.

Skillset’s chair, Clive Jones, said: “This is the first time that such a large group of universities have agreed to recognise each others’ credits for an award. The Media Academies involved have shown that they are genuinely flexible in meeting the needs of a fast-changing industry whilst maintaining the integrity and rigour of their awards.”

Any combination of these modules can be joined together to build a qualification – allowing each individual to tailor a programme of training that suits their needs. Professionals are also able to combine modules from any combination of participating Media Academies, giving them greater flexibility in accessing the courses on offer. Many of the short courses have been mapped against skill shortage areas as indentified by employers and industry bodies.

The scheme will also allow companies to create bespoke professional development programmes, in consultation with higher education institutions, which will carry credits towards a postgraduate qualification.

The BBC, The Guardian and Sony Games have all formed partnerships with participating Academies to deliver Build Your Own MA modules. The BBC has developed a programme for its Production Managers in partnership with the Bournemouth Media Academy which began this month.

Anne Morrison, Director of the BBC Academy said: "We are delighted to be working with both Skillset and Bournemouth University as we launch the inaugural year of this unique programme. Not only will it provide those taking part with a unique opportunity to consolidate and build upon their existing knowledge but it will help to set and drive standards across our industry.”

Many Build Your Own MA courses are being delivered by senior professionals from across the Creative Media Industries. Cornwall Media Academy, for example, has run a course delivered by Richard Williams, head of multiplatform for BBC Vision, and an animation course has been developed in consultation with Aardman Animations and delivered by BAFTA Award-winning animator Derek Hayes.

Skillset’s research shows that postgraduate education is already highly valued in the creative media industries, with almost one third of the workforce (30%) possessing a postgraduate qualification (Creative Media Workforce Survey, Skillset 2008). By breaking these qualifications down into single, industry-focused modules, the Build Your Own MA programme will make postgraduate education more accessible to those working in the industry, while ensuring they remain relevant to the practical needs of the sector.

Skillset’s Media Academies are a UK-wide network of higher education institutions that have undergone rigorous assessment by professionals from within the creative media industries. They are centres of excellence that offer practical, industry-focused training to their students in order to best prepare them for entry into the workforce.

The Build Your Own MA programme has been developed as part of a three-year project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

A database of all of the eligible courses, as well as more information about how to Build Your Own MA, is now available at

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