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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.

Special features

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.

Teaching and learning

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:

  • Museology research seminars
  • 'Showcase' seminars at the Manchester Museum
  • Institute for Cultural Practices events
  • Research forum for PhD students

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.


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

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