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Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (LICA) has merged with the Department of Film and Cultural Studies in preparation for the arrival of new undergraduates in October.
LICA, which previously ran the departments of Theatre Studies, Art, Design and Music, will now also take on responsibility for all Media, Film and Culture teaching.
It has been stressed that the merger is purely for administration purposes, and will have no effect on teaching within the departments. Dr Andrew Quick, the new Director of LICA, says that students will not see any marked differences in their courses — their degrees will run exactly as they previously have done, and there will be no cuts to modules.
The new LICA building is found opposite County Main, and will provide a large amount of extra space for teaching, particularly for the Department of Theatre Studies.
While the official opening will be in January, the building will be fully functional and will be used by students from the beginning of the coming term.
The merger came about as a result of major restructuring at departmental level. Smaller departments have in recent years become less viable, and have therefore merged with larger ones — Cultural Studies was absorbed into the Department of Media and Film in 2006.
Dr Andrew Quick is positive about the changes, which came into force on the 1st of August: “It is essentially admin reorganisation. We are hoping to create synergy across the arts. There will be more modules available, and students will be able to choose modules from other departments within LICA.”
It has also been suggested that other departments such as English Literature will be able to make use of the facilities in the future, with students being offered the chance to take relevant modules, for example in performance or film adaptation.
Questions have been raised as to whether students were consulted over the merger. Last year’s merger of the Departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies caused controversy when students were not given a say in the changes to their degrees. However, there seems to be none of the same difficulty in this case, since the changes are purely administrational and teaching will not be affected.
With regards to Film Studies, Quick promises that the practical aspect of the course will be developed over the coming years: “We are able to train students in film and TV directing, and we already have links with BBC Manchester. We are hoping to create links with other professional organisations in the next few years.”
The changes to the Film course will come into force in October 2011, and will give students a wider choice of practical elements. Students beginning the course this October will be the last that are taught on the current degree scheme, under the umbrella of Media, Film and Cultural Studies.
To coincide with the changes, the Media and Film Department will break away from Cultural Studies, which is expected to be taken over by Sociology. Students will be consulted over these separate changes over the coming year.