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Maria Kirkland

MA Community Leadership (2016)

As an active volunteer and current Councillor working within the local community, I chose this course in order to support my personal and professional development. As the Curriculum Leader for Public Services for Blackpool and the Fylde College, completing this course supported the development of Public Service and the Community degree programme. The nature of the course and module choices allowed me to focus on aspects of community leadership such as local politics, leadership in the community, interfaith dialogue and project development.

After graduation I have secured a position as Cabinet Member for Third Sector Engagement and Development within Blackpool supporting the development of a number of strategies and projects across the Blackpool area. I am currently responsible for the following portfolio disciplines; Equality and Diversity, Community Based Assets, Volunteering, Community Engagement, Community Development, Adult Respite, Troubled Families and the Fairness Commission.

My role is the Curriculum Leader Public Services with Blackpool and the Fylde College and I am currently responsible for managing over 150 public service students studying from Level 1 up to degree level, across Further and Higher Education courses. Key priorities include; curriculum design, curriculum development, managing quality assurance processes, managing a team, creating and establishing partnerships with the public and third sectors.

I really enjoyed all of the MA Community Leadership modules that I completed and if I had the chance, would complete this master’s all over again. I lived and breathed my research, and daily put my theory into practice. Completing my Community Research Project was my greatest achievement and worth three modules of my course. Allowing me to focus on my specialist area of interest which is local politics enabled me to gain a worthy and credible 68% for my dissertation. I would really like to publish all or parts of my community research project if the opportunity arises.

I can now tell key stakeholders within the community setting, and who I liaise and work with on a daily basis that I have achieved my MA in Community Leadership. This provides the academic credibility for my personal and professional development which I have been conducting over the last three years.

I really enjoyed completing my master’s as the modules were all relevant to my job and voluntary roles. The modules were so current that I was learning from my research and putting it into my practice, then and there. Completing research within my setting also allowed me to gather primary research on a range of topics.