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Course content

Curating Science will enable you to develop an independent academic and curatorial practice at the intersection of histories, philosophies and social studies of science, science communication and museum studies.

You will engage with current debates in science communication and interpretive practice in museums, including cutting-edge art-science practices that are reimagining ways of knowing and being in the 21st Century. Alongside this, you will be encouraged to develop innovative practices of dialogic and participative engagement, developing their own ways of convening public spaces for debate.

You will undertake a range of active learning activities from developing displays, programmes and events to developing digital content and designing their own research projects. You will be supported throughout by an interdisciplinary academic staff team drawn from museum and curatorial studies and the histories and philosophies of science, as well as professionals from our partner institutions.

Students can specialise in their own areas of interest, through choosing from an array of optional modules that explore contemporary curatorial strategies, technologies and media, cultural memory, histories of medicine, audiences, participation and engagement. You will have the option of undertaking a negotiated placement with a museum or heritage organisation.

Course content

All students on the MA in Curating Science will take three core modules.

The History and Theory of Modern Science Communication allows students to explore how science, technology and medicine have been communicated to a wider public in the past. Students will identify how the processes and purposes of science communication has changed over the last two centuries and debate the consequences for science communication of the introduction of new media, ranging from the radio to the internet. The module addresses these questions by surveying the development of science communication since 1750, and by examining the changing theoretical perspectives that have underpinned these developments. Students will learn to re-examine the processes of contemporary science communication in the light of a deeper understanding of this history.

Interpreting Cultures is underpinned by action learning and puts contemporary curation in an international context. From the outset, students work on an interpretation intervention with one of the archives and collections on campus (such as The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery; Special Collections; Treasures of the Brotherton; Marks and Spencer Company Archive; ULITA ― an Archive of International Textiles; Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine). This intensive experience of project planning, management, collaboration and team working prepares students for the option of undertaking a negotiated work placement in the second semester or optional modules exploring audiences, participation or engagement.

Through our Advanced Research Skills modules, students are equipped to undertake assessments and ultimately develop their own research project. The modules build to a symposium in Semester 2 where students present initial research findings towards a dissertation on a research topic of interest.

In addition, students choose from a range of optional modules offered by the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. These include the opportunity to complete a placement or consultancy project role in either curational approaches or engagement.

Course structure


Compulsory modules

  • Curating Science Individual project (dissertation / practice-led) 50 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 15 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 25 credits
  • Interpreting Cultures 30 credits
  • History & Theory of Modern Science Communication 30 credits

Optional modules

  • Making Sense of Sound 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
  • Technology, Media and Critical Culture 30 credits
  • Placements in Context: Policy, Organizations and Practice 30 credits
  • Historical Skills and Practices 30 credits
  • The Origin of Modern Medicine (Birth of the Clinic) 30 credits
  • Audience Engagement and Impact 30 credits

Learning and teaching

You will 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.

Assessment

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 science communication and curation, interpretation and engagement, as well as practical work experience ― a combination which is very valuable to employers.

To get a flavour of the kinds of career trajectories our graduates of allied MAs 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.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Placement opportunities

In Semester 2 you will have the option to undertake a negotiated work placement to gain first-hand experience of curating science.

We have close links with many of the major cultural institutions and organisations in the region, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for you to explore. If you have a particular ambition in mind for your placement, we usually try to find a role that suits you.

Students on allied MAs have completed placements in organisations such as Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Harewood House, the Henry Moore Institute, National Science and Media Museum, York City Art Gallery, National Railway Museum, Impressions Gallery, The Tetley, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Lotherton Hall, Abbey House Museum and the Royal Armouries.


Visit the Curating Science MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

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