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Critical Approaches to the Creative Industries - ENG00136M

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Maya Caspari
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

How does art differ from other commodities, or the making of art differ from other kinds of work? This module will offer critical tools for studying the so-called ‘creative industries’, an economic sector enshrined in UK governmental policy since the late-1990s. Our central aim is understanding the relationship between public, often highly politicised discourse around these industries and the realities of creative work and its consumption. This means challenging popular notions around ‘creativity’ itself, and the persistence of more romanticised views of artistic autonomy amid growing pressures around value and professionalisation.

Bearing in mind a longer history of creative practices and their economic entanglements, we’ll consider what’s at stake in a time when ‘creatives’ and self-described ‘creative entrepreneurs’ move fluidly between art and commerce. The syllabus will investigate the nine designated sub-sectors in the UK creative industries – advertising; architecture; crafts; design and fashion; film and TV; IT and software; publishing; museums, galleries, and libraries; and music, performing, and visual arts. We’ll examine these through various lenses, considering the role of funding, policy, labour, class, race, gender, and technology.

Our work will be fundamentally interdisciplinary, connecting aspects of cultural studies with recent developments in the study of arts management, the sociology of art, and economic humanities. By examining creative work alongside public debate, arts policy, industry rhetoric, and quantitative data, you’ll develop methods for studying the making and selling of art, while contributing to the emerging field of creative industries studies. Understanding key issues in this area will be invaluable for anyone interested in researching or working in the arts sector.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims to introduce you to a range of key ideas and debates surrounding the contemporary creative industries. Methodologically, it will offer a range of critical tools for researching creative production, distribution, and consumption.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with key topics and debates affecting the contemporary creative industries;

  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with creative industries theory and policy;

  3. Produce confident and well-argued ideas in class and in writing, in such a way that engages with relevant criticism;

  4. Carry out individual research in the fields in question, to present it in seminars, and to discuss it with seminar members;

  5. Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields.


Task Length % of module mark
4,500-word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4,500-word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your module tutor, the MA Convenor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours.

Indicative reading

  • (eds.) Candace Jones and Mark Lorenzen, The Oxford Handbook of Creative Industries (Oxford UP, 2015).

  • Oli Mould, Against Creativity (Verso, 2018).

  • Bonita M Kolb, Marketing Strategy for Creative and Culture Industries (Routledge, 2016).

  • Dave Beech, Art and Value: Art’s Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics (Haymarket Books, 2015).

  • Dave O’Brien, Cultural Policy: Management, value and modernity in the creative industries (Routledge, 2014).

  • Morag Shiach and Tarek Virani, Cultural Policy, Innovation and the Creative Economy (Palgrave, 2016).

  • Alison Gerber, The Work of Art: Value in Creative Careers (Stanford, 2017).

  • (eds.) Mark Banks, Rosalind Gill and Stephanie Taylor, Theorizing Cultural Work: Labour, Continuity, and Change in the Cultural and Creative Industries (Routledge, 2017).

  • Mark Banks, Creative Justice: Cultural Industries, Work and Inequality (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

  • Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien, Mark Taylor, Culture Is Bad for You: Inequality in the Culture and Creative Industries (Manchester University Press, 2020).

  • Philip Nel, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books (Oxford UP, 2017).

  • Sarah Brouillette, Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford UP, 2014).

  • Angela McRobbie, Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries (Polity, 2015).

  • Peggy Deamer, The Architect as Worker: Immaterial Labor, the Creative Class, and the Politics of Design (Bloomsbury, 2015).

  • Anamik Saha, Race and the Cultural Industries (Polity, 2018).

  • (eds.) Chiel van den Akker and Susan Legêne, Museums in a Digital Culture, (Amsterdam UP, 2016).

  • Darren Henley, The Arts Divided: Why Investment in Culture Pays, 2nd ed. (Elliott & Thompson, 2020).

  • Various policy documents and arts sector reports.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.