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.
The MLitt in Museum and Gallery Studies is aimed at students wanting to start a career in museum or gallery work, or for those looking for a mid-career change. The part-time course is designed for museum and gallery employees or volunteers who wish to study while continuing with their work.
All Museum and Gallery Studies students take three compulsory modules over two semesters (or four semesters for part-time studies). The taught courses are delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, practical sessions and visits to museums and galleries.
Class sizes typically range from 18 to 24 students, and exhibition teams range from 6 to 9 students. Students complete three assignments per module in a variety of formats including an essay, a documentation and database project, an object study, an exhibition or website review, a lesson plan and a management report.
The final three months of the course will be focused on writing the final assessment piece, a 15,000-word dissertation.
Substantial contributions to the course are made by the Scottish museums community which generously provides visiting lecturers and hosts class visits and individual student placements.
The Museum and Gallery Studies teaching staff are experienced museum curators who continue to be involved directly in museum work.
The part-time course runs every two years. The taught element is delivered at four week-long residential schools in January and June of each year. There is an opportunity for you to use your practical experience towards the coursework and write up your professional activities for assessment. The Graduate Diploma can be converted to an MLitt on production of a dissertation of 15,000 words, submitted five months after the formal end of the taught course.
For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry.
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.
This MA at UCL Qatar equips students with the necessary theoretical and practical skills to assume a career as a leading museum professional within Qatar, the wider Gulf region or further afield. Through practical placements, students will gain a unique insight into the developing local and international museum sector.
This programme introduces the theories and practices of museology, emphasising their significance and relevance in the Gulf region and beyond. Key areas of museum studies are taught, such as collections management, museum, gallery and site management, exhibition development, visual studies, education and emerging digital technologies.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
Students take four core modules (75 credits), plus a combination of optional modules (either three modules at 15 credits each or one module at 15 credits plus one module at 30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).
Students choose from the following:
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 12,000 words.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical sessions, and structured reading. Students undertake a 20-day professional placement. Assessment is through essays, presentations, portfolios, reports, oral examination and the dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Museum and Gallery Practice MA
Graduates of this programme will gain an in-depth historical and theoretical background in museums and cultural heritage as well as experience in a range of relevant technical skills. They will be trained in all aspects of museums work, including collections management, education and community outreach, emerging digital technologies, exhibition design and interpretation. Graduates will be familiar with regional and global cultural heritage practices.
There is an increasing need for qualified professionals with expertise in museums in the Gulf. We expect graduates to go on to assume leading roles within museums and galleries in Qatar and elsewhere in the region and internationally, including in management, collection building, curation and outreach.
Museums are flourishing in Qatar and the region, and this programme provides unmatched opportunities to network with leading local museums and heritage professionals.
Education City, Doha, houses branch campuses of some of the world's most prestigious educational institutions. International students benefit from the unique cultural experience of studying in Qatar, where the diverse range of cultural backgrounds ensures that unique perspectives are brought to classroom discussions.
The programme suits students with a genuine interest and curiosity about museums and heritage in the Arab and Islamic world.
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.
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
This programme will cover sponsorship and marketing, audience development, regeneration and partnerships, and commerce/merchandise, giving a detailed insight into the ways that museums and galleries are managed and develop entrepreneurship.
Perhaps you already work in a museum or gallery and want some CPD experience. Or maybe you work in a different area but are thinking about a change of career.
Through a combination of lectures, seminars, outside visits, interviews, projects, workshops and presentations you'll examine the ways in which museum and gallery professionals have developed sophisticated new strategies and applied innovative entrepreneurial thinking to find ways of attracting visitors from a wide range of backgrounds to visit their institutions, engage with their events, and interact with art works in different ways.
Entrepreneurial thinking in museums and galleries is unique and cannot be viewed in the same way as a start-up business or new commercial venture. Instead it's a progressive way of developing commercial strands within the public sector. So you'll be encouraged to identify entrepreneurial activity, identify the target audiences for whom activities or resources have been developed, and the type of income raised.
The programme will use case studies of large-scale public/cultural projects like the Unilever series in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, and the Fourth Plinth project in Trafalgar Square. Many of the sessions will take place in a museum or gallery (for example, Tate, the V&A, National Gallery), where you'll be able to carry out practical research. You'll also be able to meet and engage with potential professional contacts in different departments.
The programme is made up of two 30-credit modules, which you can also take as standalone short courses:
You can start the course at either point in the year.
For your assessment you'll be asked to use all of your creative, entrepreneurial and research skills to 'create' a museum of your own. You'll then produce a museum guide containing a director's foreward, an introduction to a collection, a description of how the institution is managed and structured, and an account of leisure facilties and fundraising, sponsorship and enterprise activities.
By completing this programme you'll be able to:
This programme covers many different areas and roles within museums and galleries, including:
You'll therefore finish the course with a good understanding of these areas and how they interact with each other. This could prove to be excellent experience if you're keen to obtain employment or a placement in these sectors in future.
It's also ideal continuing professional development (CPD) for anyone already working in a museum or gallery.
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.