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Course content

This MA provides a broad academic and professional training in all aspects of museum work, and encourages students to reflect on the concept of the museum and its associated practices. Grounded in museum practice and research, the programme looks at all types of museums.

About this degree

Students are equipped with a range of skills that they can apply in any museum and develop critically aware perspectives on professional practice and research processes. The programme's main aim is to provide an in-depth understanding of approaches to the research, documentation, communication, public engagement, interpretation, presentation and preservation of curated materials in museums, while responding to their audiences and communities. 

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (75 credits), two optional modules (30 credits), work placement (15 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

All students are required to take the following: 

  • The Museum: Critical Perspectives
  • Managing Museums
  • Collections Management and Care
  • Museum Communication

Optional modules

Students also choose further options to the value of 30 credits from the following: 

  • Antiquities and the Law
  • Collections Curatorship
  • Cultural Heritage, Globalisation and Development
  • Cultural Memory
  • Exhibition Project
  • Intangible Dimensions of Museum Objects from Egypt
  • Oral History from Creation to Curation
  • Curating Science & Technology
  • Nature, culture and the languages of art: theories and methodologies of art interpretation
  • Archaeologies of the Modern World
  • GIS in Archaeology and History

Dissertation/report

All students undertake an independent research project on a museological topic which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 credits).

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through lectures, small group seminars, practical workshops, student-led panel meetings, museum visits and guest speakers. Students are required to undertake a work placement for a total of 20 days. Assessment is through coursework assignments, projects, essays, field reports, portfolio and the dissertation.

Placement

Students are required to undertake a minimum of 20 days' work in a museum (or similar institution). Drawing from an extensive network of musuems we collaborate with, the aim is to arrange placements that match students' prior skills, interests and expectations. Placements usually take place one day per week during term-time, although other arrangements may be possible. Students create and present a poster, through which they are assessed, and organise a poster session and placement provider reception. 

Recent placements have included: Brent Museum, the British Museum, The Jewish Museum, Freud Museum, Hackney Museum, London Transport Museum, Handle Hendrix Museum, Alexandra Palace, the Royal Academy, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Royal Historical Palaces, St Paul's Cathedral, Benjamin Franklin Museum, Islington Museum, the House of Illustration, Marx Memorial Museum, UCL Museums & Collections and the Wallace Collection.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Museum Studies MA

Careers

Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to complete a PhD while others have pursued a career in professional organisations associated with the museum and/or heritage sector. 90% of UK graduates from this degree take up employment in the museum sector within six months.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Assistant Keeper, Historic Royal Palaces
  • Exhibition Project Manager, Athens Biennale
  • Assistant House and Collections Officer, National Trust
  • MA in History of Art, Sapienza University of Rome
  • Archivist, Madame Tussauds

Employability

The MA in Museum Studies facilitates the development of both practical skills relevant to a professional career in the museum and galleries sector and a solid understanding of, and critical engagement with, theoretical issues involved in contemporary museum practice. Core practical skills include collections care procedures, packing and storing objects, documentation, collections-based research, exhibition production, and display evaluation. A museum-based placement and optional modules can be chosen to enable students to focus on specific additional areas of theory and practice. Transferable skills include independent research, writing and communication skills, interpersonal skills, use of IT, time management and group working.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK, and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study in related fields such as museum studies, heritage studies and conservation.

Its outstanding archaeological library is complemented by UCL's main library, University of London Senate House and other specialist libraries.

London's many museums and galleries are a wonderful source of discussion and material for this degree, but in particular UCL's own important museums and collections are drawn upon for teaching and research, including those of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Art Museum, and the Grant Museum of Zoology. Students participate in real-life projects through a number of courses and placements offered on the programme. Students also have access to MA degree programmes taught in other UCL departments. Please note that students need to contact the relevant programme co-ordinators to register their interest since there are only limited spaces available.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Institute of Archaeology

73% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.


Visit the Museum Studies (MA) page on the University College London website for more details!

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