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Collections & Curating Practices (MScR)

Course Description

Research profile

This is a distinctive programme, built around the unique position of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in the University and the city of Edinburgh.

It combines advanced research in and on collections (ranging from visual art, film and musical instruments through to medical artefacts and rare books) with practices, including archival work and temporary exhibition organisation. At its core are high-quality peer-group research placements delivered in partnership with national cultural institutions and a regular colloquium course debating key issues in the field.

The programme is aimed at students wishing to develop research-level knowledge in the field of museum, gallery and collections studies broadly conceived, and to gain practical experience of professional working as part of a peer group in a large public institution, delivering a live project.

You will gain critical, analytical, interpretative and other research skills that are transferable to further academic research, to museum collections and curatorial settings, and to other professions.

The study and interpretation of diverse museum and gallery collections involves theoretical, historical and practical approaches to artefacts from world cultures past and present.

Drawing on disciplines such as anthropology, art history, archival studies, conservation, history of music, history of science, and sociology, this exciting field is about working at the interface of academic research and the curatorial profession.

The Edinburgh approach, based around strong partnerships with national cultural institutions in the city, fosters the next generation of researchers and museum and gallery professionals. It affords unique opportunities for live project delivery in national institutions, master classes with leading experts, and a rigorous framework for intellectual development and innovation.

Training and support

The core course will include introductory training relating to the principles and practices of collections management as well as institutional practices including interpretation, access and audience engagement. Two intensive one-day workshops will offer practical training in archival practice and object handling, along with further learning opportunities relating to the transportation, insurance, and installation of objects in exhibitions. More advanced professional training in relevant practices will be given by partner organisations during placement projects. In addition, the programme will enable you to use a range of IT skills in the delivery of presentations: oral, written and visual.

The 60 credit dissertation component will be supervised by a member of staff in ECA, with secondary supervisory support from ECA, the University or from a member of staff in one of the external partner organisations. Your project/dissertation will be supported by regular supervisory meetings and feedback on drafts of chapters.


Situated in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, Edinburgh College of Art has a wide range of studios and workshop spaces, libraries and collections, places to socialise, perform and show work; all within walking distance of world-class museums, music venues and galleries.

Our facilities range from the historic, to contemporary, specialist spaces for making work at all scales, in and across all media. In this directory, you’ll find details of our own facilities, and selected places in the city to be inspired, research, collaborate or gain work experience.

Visit the Collections & Curating Practices (MScR) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A good Honours degree (at least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent e.g. 3.4 GPA or better) in either any area of arts (e.g. fine art, digital arts, art, visual culture); humanities (e.g. art history, cultural geography, literature, archaeology, cultural studies); social sciences (e.g. social anthropology, sociology); history of science, or a related field. In addition, you will have professional or internship experience in museums, galleries or other cultural organisations. You will be able to demonstrate aptitude for conducting research at a level beyond that expected in a taught masters degree.

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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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