The MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies aims to provide students with critical understandings of issues in curatorship, museology and museum management. The course considers the ways in which material culture has been represented and interpreted by historians and cultural theorists, the methodologies behind museum practice and methods of display and interpretation, and also puts theory and practice into dialogue.
Through the course, students develop critical understandings of the histories of art galleries and museums and explore and challenge key ideas that have shaped museum practice. Students will also deploy these historical and theoretical understandings to develop innovative approaches to curation, interpretation and engaging audiences.
You will develop practical skills through working on an interpretation project in our archives and collections on campus, and undertaking a negotiated work placement. Supported by the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, you will gain the knowledge and skills for a successful career in the museum and art gallery sector.
You will study in the heart of a cultural hub for this diverse and vibrant region. Leeds is home to a wide variety of world-leading and innovative arts and heritage organisations, from the Royal Armouries, Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Northern Ballet through to nine council-run museums, galleries and heritage sites and many contemporary art spaces.
We are also close to everything the rest of Yorkshire has to offer, from The Hepworth Wakefield to the National Science and Media Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Brontë Parsonage Museum. We have close links with many of these cultural institutions to support your practical learning.
Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage
All students on the degree become members of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage and enjoy opportunities from networking events and links to alumni to conferences, seminars and reading groups.
A set of core modules form the bedrock of the programme, introducing you to the concept of the ‘museum’ and the ways in which Western museums have represented and interpreted history and historical material.
You’ll also use contemporary theory to consider 20th-century museum practice and key questions around curatorship, museology and museum management. The role of the curator, funding and sponsorship and the display and interpretation of objects are among the topics you’ll cover.
Your core modules will give you the chance to apply your theoretical knowledge and gain practical skills. You’ll take part in an interpretation project in the University’s Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, as well as completing a work placement in an external arts or heritage organisation.
All MA students in the School take two core modules which develop the research skills to complete research projects such as your essays and dissertation.
This will build to our unique MA Symposium in Semester 2, where you present some of your own research across interdisciplinary panels, and a dissertation which enables you to undertake research in a topic of interest to you.
If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.
You’ll be taught by leading researchers and experienced practitioners in their fields, and you’ll benefit from a range of teaching and learning methods. They include lectures and seminars, gallery and museum visits, as well as hands-on experience of specific collections in library sessions.
You’ll also learn from practical experience when you undertake your work placement, and a variety of external speakers will give you an insight into contemporary practice in the sector. Independent study is an important element of the degree, allowing you to develop your research and critical skills.
We use a range of assessment methods including essays, presentations, assignments and literature reviews among others, depending on the modules you choose.
Through a combination of theory and practice, the programme produces graduates who are able to develop professional careers in the museums and heritage sector whilst retaining a critical and reflexive eye on their own practice and that of the institutions in which they work.
It will equip you with a good understanding of the issues and approaches to art gallery and museum studies, as well as practical work experience – a combination which is very valuable to employers. You’ll also develop advanced skills in communication, research and analysis as well as cultural awareness.
Our graduates now work as heads of collection, curators and education staff in local authority museums, for national heritage organisations like the National Trust, charitable trusts and in arts marketing and public relations.
A significant number have also returned as research students and have secured scholarships to pursue their research topics, including Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarships. Former research students are now forging academic careers in the UK, Canada and the US.
To get a flavour of the kinds of career trajectories our graduates have taken see the ‘news’ section of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage and the alumni pages of the School website.
Art Gallery and Museum Studies (AGMS) has been taught at The University of Manchester for more than 40 years. It is one of the longest established MA degree courses in museum studies in the country, and our alumni have reached senior positions in museums and galleries throughout the UK and overseas.
Today, the AGMS course is continually being reviewed and developed in response to new research, emerging critical approaches and shifts in museum practice. Manchester's traditional focus on the art gallery remains, but is now balanced by course units which address history, theory and practice in a range of institutions.
Throughout the degree, you will examine diverse issues related to museum theory and practice, visit numerous museums, galleries and cultural organisations, and have many opportunities to discuss ideas and issues with professionals and academics in the field. The AGMS course combines both guided and independent study, and includes seminars, guest lectures and site visits.
Work Placement (Semesters 1 and 2)
One of the most popular aspects of the AGMS is the work placement that you undertake in a museum or gallery. Each placement involves a minimum of 20 days work on a specific project, such as exhibition development, collections management, or education programme. Many students find this such a positive experience that they carry on working in their museum when the work placement has finished, and each year a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts. Work placements start in Semester 1 (November/December) and finish in Semester 2 (June).
You can take the work placement either as 15-credit or 30-credit course.
During the MA, students have opportunities to design and participate in live projects with cultural organisations in Manchester. These include curating a collection, developing exhibitions, producing cultural events and working on creative collaborative projects.
Most teaching takes place in small interactive seminar groups, involving, as appropriate, directed-reading, fieldwork in museums and galleries, staff and student presentations, discussion, debate, problem-solving and group-work.
Most courses run one day/week over 12 weeks and there are variations in the number of class hours per teaching day depending on the course/week (i.e. 2-5 hours). As a general rule, a 30 credit course includes 300 learning hours, which can be roughly divided as follows: a third in classes or class-related work; a third in independent study; and a third in preparation of assignments.
Students undertake also a collections management group project (as part of the 'Managing Collections and Exhibitions' and an exhibition group project (as part of the 'Professional Practice Project' course) in collaboration with a museum, gallery or related cultural organisation in Manchester or the North West of England.
Postgraduate life in the Centre for Museology
Both the Centre for Museology and the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures host a varied programme of activities and events for postgraduate students, including occasional master classes and workshops, as well as our regular calendar of:
Full-time or part-time?
The AGMS MA is available as a 1 year Full-time or a 2 year Part-time course. We particularly welcome part-time students and there are many advantages in combining study with work practice, whether you already have a museum post, or are just setting out on your career. Each year, a number of mid-career professionals take the MA degree on a part-time basis and find that the University provides a valuable space for reflection as well as for further learning. Part time students have classes one day per week (usually Tuesday or Thursday; although in Semester 2 it might be a different day depending on the option course you choose). On this one should also add our Thursday 5pm research, professional practice and academic skills workshops. You should also count time for library work/fieldwork that may require you coming to Manchester and although sometimes this can be done on the day of teaching, often one needs to come in a second day (and if you do this on Thursdays then you can combine it with the 5pm workshops). When the work placement kicks off (about November/December in Year 1 or Year 2) you should also count one more day/week (on average) at the Work Placement institution (which, if appropriate or relevant, can be the organisation where you currently work; but undertaking a project different to your day-to-day work) - this is of course if you decide to take the Work Placement module.
interdisciplinary opportunities we offer create an engaging professional experience investigating the practice and discourse of fine art. You can choose areas of specialism in drawing from the archive, art in space and place and curating art, alongside your own studio work.
Full-time students use our purpose-built studio space. You have access to a wide range of workshops and technical expertise from all areas of media and fabrication. These include • sculpture • painting • live art • drawing • computer programming • metalwork • video editing • dark rooms • sound studios • film production equipment • printmaking.
Our teaching staff are experts in fine art and art education who not only exhibit their work but also contribute to conferences, journals and publications at national and international levels.
Vibrant and supportive learning environment
The course offers a supportive community to foster your practice and your ambitions as a fine art professional. It is particularly suitable if you are • open-minded • ambitious • keen to experience new personal challenges that expand your creative development • interested in understanding all areas of the fine art discipline.
You are encouraged to create experimental and innovative works and to engage with the critical context of art in our time. Dialogue with peers, practicing artists and structured teaching throughout the course enables you to identify your practice within the wider field of fine art to achieve new goals, develop networks and find new inspirations to enrich your creative ambitions.
Excellent creative resources
We have a comprehensive range of technical resources and an excellent programme of high profile guest artists from across the visual arts spectrum to stimulate debates on issues of art and culture. If you are doing your work placement in another European country there may be funding available through the Erasmus programme.
Dynamic and creative art community
Fine art students work and exhibit in the heart of Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter. The course has links with • Sheffield Contemporary Arts Forum • studio groups such as S1 and Bloc • Yorkshire Art Space Society • the Showroom Cinema • Site Gallery.
Sheffield has a dynamic and vibrant creative community. We work collaboratively with artists and curators, as well as researchers and students in other areas. You have access to a network of public galleries, art organisations and artist-run spaces. Opportunities for exhibiting and publishing take place throughout the year.
MA and MFA study
MA and MFA students complete the same modules during the course except that MFA students complete an extra project module. The MFA project encourages you to develop professional skills that help you to identify, instigate, and deliver projects with external partners, such as communities, galleries or businesses. You find a project partner, agree a brief and then deliver the project to a professional standard.
This course is part of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), an amazing, diverse community of makers – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. SIA opened in 1843 and is one of the UK's oldest Art and Design Schools. We have recently moved into the Head Post Office, a redesigned Grade II listed building. It includes state-of-the-art workshops which provide you with a unique studio-based learning environment in the heart of the creative community.
In this module you extend your knowledge of the range of approaches to research that have been used in art, and those that derive from other disciplines. You are introduced to an advanced range of contemporary critical theories, and examine key texts embodying these theories. Principles of research planning and the theory and practice of information searching ensure you are ready to effectively carry out your own research and critical practice.
During this studio-based module, you produce a body artwork in preparation for an exhibition. Your work may manifest itself across a range of contemporary art practices arising from individual intellectual and creative concerns. You have access to specialist workshop surgeries where you can seek individual support and advice to further your practical work.
On this module you produce a body of work in any chosen media form. It draws together strategies of research, professional practice and critical thinking to form an advanced, mature, informed and professional practice. The module holds together these key aspects to reflect, and enable transition into, the wider contemporary art world.
You select from options that are led by research active staff who will introduce you to their own professional interests including • art writing • curating art • art in space and place • drawing from the archive • gallery – public realm: making art inside and out
MFA core module – MFA students only
You reflect on and consider methodologies of fine art to develop an individual method of making.
Your work on this final MFA project involves public presentation of your work supported by a mentor who guides you as you make the leap into the professional world.
Self-negotiated models of examination enable students to present agreed bodies of work for self and peer group assessment as well as evaluation by tutors.
We provide a learning environment that supports your individual needs while developing your involvement in the wider art world.
You are regularly involved in a range of exhibition, curatorial, performance, screening and publishing projects at regional, national and international levels.
You gain confidence to exploit opportunities for practicing artists and work in associated fine art-related culture. You can also register for further study at MPhil/PhD level within our Art and Design Research Centre.
Graduate successes include
The MA in Arts Management, Policy and Practice enables students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the history, theory and practice of arts management; to gain an insight into the range of professional opportunities in the creative and cultural sector; and to acquire direct experience of the many areas of arts management. The programme has a strong practical, hands-on element. At the same time it offers a solid theoretical grounding, exploring cultural policy in its historical context and encouraging critical engagement with the philosophical, political, social and economic imperatives informing contemporary practice. Above all, we aim to produce pioneers rather than bureaucrats.
Lecturers from the Centre for Arts Management teach the MA with considerable input from arts professionals including staff from the Martin Harris Centre, Contact Theatre, the Royal Exchange, Whitworth Art Gallery and many other local cultural organisations. We also work closely with our sister programme, the highly regarded MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies.
The programme is designed to serve as an entry-level qualification for recent graduates as well as offering professional development for mid-career practitioners. It offers flexibility and opportunities for specialisation, while ensuring a thorough grounding in essential principles and methodology. It provides a solid foundation for careers in different areas of the arts and creative industries, and caters for arts practitioners as well as aspiring managers.
The siting of the programme close to a range of leading arts venues offers a unique opportunity for students to engage with the practical considerations of arts management. The Martin Harris Centre is a hub of cutting edge research and interdisciplinary investigation: in addition to the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and John Thaw Theatre, it is home to the Tipp Centre (Theatre in Prisons and Probation), the Centre for Screen Studies, Centre for Applied Theatre Research, Manchester Theatre in Sound (MANTIS), Manchester Centre for Music in Culture (MC2), and the NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound-Art. Other cultural organisations based at the university - Manchester Academy, Contact Theatre, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery - are only a few minutes' walk away.
The programme also benefits from the exceptionally rich grouping of arts-based institutions and agencies in Manchester and the North West - an area celebrated for containing more theatres than any other region outside London and now hosting the BBC at the new Media City at Salford Quays. Liverpool (European Capital of Culture 2008), Leeds and Sheffield are all within easy reach. A wide range of regional arts venues and organisations contribute to the programme by providing guest lecturers, site visits and work placements.
The programme is based within the School or Arts, Languages and Cultures. The core of the School's interest is the field of human cultures, beliefs and institutions. Its work embraces the material, visual, creative and performative dimensions of culture, and as such fosters a rich interdisciplinary culture led by world-renowned scholars with a diversity of expertise, from analysts to creative artists, from historians of ideas to cultural theorists. We work particularly closely with staff from the highly-rated departments of Music and Drama.
All students take two core modules (Arts Management: Principles and Practice, and Cultural Policy) and write a dissertation (15,000 words, or for a practice-based dissertation 8,000-10,000 words plus project documentation). The remaining credits (two or three additional modules) are taken from a range of options including:
All modules include a programme of guest lectures and/or practical seminars by experienced professionals based in cultural institutions in and around Manchester. The programme also features visits to a selection of key sites and venues in the North West.
Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: [email protected]
This programme prepares graduates for a diverse range of career opportunities as managers, administrators, policy-makers or practitioners in various branches of the arts and cultural and creative industries. Opportunities exist in the public, private, and voluntary sectors; in theatres, opera houses, concert halls, arts centres, museums and galleries, and the media; with orchestras, theatre companies, dance companies, etc.; or with the Arts Council, British Council, Local Authority, Tourist Board and various funding bodies. Discrete posts include: programming manager; marketing director; education director; development or outreach officer; tour organiser; promoter, agent or artist's manager; website, database or IT manager; producer; consultant or market researcher; fundraiser; community artist; freelance workshop leader. Graduates may also find work in related areas such as teaching, social and educational work. Some students go on to pursue further study and research at doctoral level.
The History of Art MA at UCL draws on the world-leading research and teaching expertise within the department, and is designed to enable students to acquire specialised knowledge pertaining to the field of art history and to develop independent research skills.
Students develop skills for engaging with visual materials and gain historical knowledge, enabling them to interpret artefacts in relation to their social and cultural contexts. They are introduced to current methodological debates in the field and encouraged to define their own position through reasoned historical and theoretical arguments.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of a core module (30 credits), two optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
Options may include the following:
All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 13,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, as well as gallery and museum visits. Assessment is by two essays for each of the taught modules (six essays in all), the dissertation and a viva.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: History of Art MA
UCL's History of Art graduates have an excellent record of success in entering PhD programmes, careers in museums and galleries, the art trade, the heritage industry, art publishing, and art conservation. The unique combination of visual analysis and intellectual rigour offered by the MA has also proven valuable in diverse careers including journalism, publishing, and advertising. For those aspiring to an academic career, the MA is a requirement for a PhD, and many former MA students have successfully received funding for research degrees, and subsequently obtained academic positions, at prestigious institutions in the UK, North America, and elsewhere.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Our History of Art MA provides focused training in the history of art and its methodologies. It encourages students to develop original critical thinking on all aspects of visual culture, and promotes a serious engagement with historical and contemporary cultural debates. You will learn how to work collaboratively as well as independently to develop your skills in written and oral communications. The MA is an excellent starting point for a career in academia, curating, for working in the heritage industry, commercial art galleries, and other sectors of the cultural industries.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
UCL History of Art is one of the most dynamic centres for the study of art history and visual cultures in the world. It is one of the leading departments in the UK for research; and all staff are active researchers in a range of specialist fields. Our teaching and research move beyond traditional forms of art history to address visual and material cultures more broadly, and we are committed to a wide range of critical and historiographical enquiry.
The MA in History of Art is a challenging and versatile degree; you will study in a community of approximately 40 graduate students; at the same time you will work in smaller groups and in close contact with tutors in your special subject courses.
The department is located in Bloomsbury, close to the Warburg Institute, the British Library, and the British Museum. The National Gallery, Tate Galleries, and the Victoria and Albert Museum are also within easy reach. UCL's own Art Museum holds many rare and important works.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: History of Art
85% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.