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Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA

Course Description

This interdisciplinary programme will equip you with valuable skills and a critical understanding of issues in curatorship, museology and museum management.

You’ll develop your understanding of the ways in which historians and cultural theorists have interpreted and represented architecture, material culture and museums over the past 2,000 years. You’ll look at different methods of display and interpretation and the methodologies behind museum practice and country house collections. Then you’ll choose from optional modules on topics such as cultural theory, sculpture, Hollywood icons or cinema.

At the same time, you’ll develop practical skills. You’ll work on an interpretation project in our Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery and you’ll even undertake a negotiated work placement in your second semester. Supported by the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills for a successful career in the museum and art gallery sector.

You’ll study in the heart of a cultural hub for this diverse and vibrant region. Leeds is home to a national museum, nine council-run museums, galleries and heritage sites and many private and charitable museums and galleries.

We’re also a short bus or train journey away from everything the rest of Yorkshire has to offer, from The Hepworth Wakefield to the National Media Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Bronte 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.

Course content

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.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Advanced Research Skills 1 5 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 2 5 credits
  • History and the Museum: Representation, Narrative and Memory 30 credits
  • Museum, Object, Practice 30 credits
  • Interpreting Cultures 30 credits
  • Dissertation for the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies 50 credits

Optional modules

  • Derrida and Deconstruction 30 credits
  • Beyond the Trench: Collaborative Projects on the History, Remembrance and Critical Heritage of the First World War 30 credits
  • Capitalism-Criticism-Contemporary Art 30 credits
  • Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust 30 credits
  • From Chagall to Kitaj and Beyond 30 credits
  • Critical and Curatorial Challenges in Contemporary Art: The Documenta Exhibitions at Kassel 1992-2012 30 credits
  • Encountering Things: Art and Entanglement in Anglo-Saxon England 30 credits
  • Anthropology, Art and Representation 30 credits
  • Humanity, Animality and Globality 30 credits
  • Audience Engagement and Impact 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

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.

Career opportunities

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.

Visit the Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Hons) in a relevant subject. Professional experience will also be considered. English language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components

Last Updated

31 July 2017

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