SODA is an example of the Greater Manchester Universities and businesses working in a modern way to develop assets to drive R&D and address skills needs.

What Is SODA

Manchester Metropolitan University opened the doors to its School of Digital Arts (SODA) in June 2022. 

SODA is a diverse, multi-disciplinary and visionary school which provides state-of-the-art facilities, practical teaching, sector-leading research, and impactful knowledge exchange in the digital arts sector.   

The school pioneers industry-led business and skills development and trains the next generation of talent to enable the UK to continue to grow and compete internationally across the digital and creative media sectors.   

The School was delivered in partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and Manchester Metropolitan University. The overall project cost was £35 million with £14.9m Growth Deal investment by the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and £20.1m from Manchester Metropolitan University. 

Built to address the skills gap in the North West region, SODA is a global leader in new forms of digital storytelling. It achieves this through the application of emerging digital technology to produce graduates that spearhead the UK’s booming creative industries sector. 

SODA will: 

  • improve the supply of talent available to the creative industries to support growth ambitions 

  • raise the bar on skills, by introducing new pathways into the creative industries and new progression routes once working in them, to make the sector attractive to a wider talent pool 

  • build the sector’s international competitiveness and reputation, helping to attract inward investment as well as attracting and retaining a skilled workforce 

  • capture growth opportunities where there are recognised sectoral strengths with Greater Manchester’s considerable cluster of digital and creative businesses now widely recognised 

  • run pioneering research which informs teaching and generates answers to the most challenging questions posed by digital media and technology 

How Will SODA Help Business Across Greater Manchester?

SODA is a key digital skills provider in the Greater Manchester city-region that will impact strongly on the growth and retention capability of the creative digital industries sector both regionally and nationally. 

Establishing a robust talent pipeline in Greater Manchester will help enable SME growth and uplift from small-medium and medium to large digital businesses in the city.   

SODA uses industry connections to provide the opportunity for students to work on live projects and to facilitate collaboration between businesses, students and researchers forging new ideas and relationships. Examples of the companies and organisations that SODA collaborates with include Sky UK, Channel 4, and Cloud Imperium. 

 Manchester Metropolitan University has plans to strengthen business networks across the city- region around artificial intelligence, as well as new ed-tech models to help employers more easily access skills and talent. 

SODA also runs a programme of discovery and learning for those working across these industries with masterclasses and knowledge-sharing events aimed at professional development in creative, digital and tech businesses across Greater Manchester and the North West. This event series encourages collaboration and networking alongside the sharing of ideas and cutting-edge academic research among Greater Manchester’s professional community. 

How Will SODA Help Communities Across Greater Manchester?

SODA gives students the chance to study industry-led courses in disciplines that span film, animation, UX design, photography, games design, AI and more. It also offers a number of scholarships that provide additional support for eligible students including the PlayStation Career Pathways Program and SJM Concerts Futures Scholarship. 

A flexible mix of courses from undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees to degree apprenticeships, summer schools and short courses make SODA accessible to all. 

SODA also works in partnership with colleges and schools to highlight opportunities within digital arts. The School works with these institutions to deliver a series of digital and physical workshops, events and activities throughout the year to students and teachers across Greater Manchester to inspire careers within the arts.