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Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies - MA

Course content

The programme is ideal for students wishing to pursue a career in the museum, heritage and arts sectors with a focus on non-Western art and culture, and both tangible and intangible heritage. It will suit practicing museum and heritage professionals who are interested in strengthening their knowledge of contemporary debates in critical museology, critical heritage studies and material culture studies. With its interdisciplinary focus, it will suit students interested in broadening their expertise across anthropology, art history and archaeology. It will also provide an excellent postgraduate foundation for students interested in pursuing PhD research concerned with museums, heritage, and material/visual culture in Asian, African, Middle Eastern and transnational/transcultural contexts.

This interdisciplinary programme brings together anthropological, art historical and archaeological perspectives to explore the interconnecting fields of museums, heritage and material culture studies. The MA disprivileges Western museum and heritage discourses and practices, and explores tangible and intangible cultural heritage as spheres of global interaction. 

The MA will equip students with a theoretically-informed critical understanding of museums, heritage and material/visual culture. Taught across the Department of Anthropology and School of Arts, the MA provides a unique opportunity to learn about current debates in World Art and World Heritage, combining ethnographic, art historical and archaeological approaches. 

Students will be introduced to a wide range of thematic and theoretical issues, and will have the opportunity to curate a small exhibition in the Curating Cultures module, and put into practice anthropological research techniques in the Ethnographic Research Methods course. 

Situated in London’s ‘Museum Mile’, a few hundred meters from the British Museum, and with its own Brunei Gallery, SOAS provides a unique environment in which to study the cultural heritage of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Student Profile - Mansi Rao

"With a background in architecture and a research career in the field of traditional built environments and crafts, I had always looked out for an appropriate postgraduate degree until I discovered the MA Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies at SOAS. The programme, with its interdisciplinary approach, is unique and offers both theoretical learning and hands-on experience instilled through working with museums and their collections. This, combined with the academic support of my tutors, has provided the perfect balance to develop new skills, which I can take back and enhance my work at the Design, Innovation and Craft Resource Centre at CEPT University, India and to prepare for a PhD which I hope to pursue in the near future. The intimate and informal environment at SOAS has allowed me to feel at home and the School’s strong value system has shaped me as an individual at diverse levels." 


The programme consists of 180 credits in total: 120 credits of modules and a dissertation of 10,000 words at 60 credits.

All students are expected to take the core and compulsory modules listed below.

Students are advised to take one or both of the recommended modules listed below or may wish to select from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology or the School of Arts (Departments of Centre for Media Studies, History of Art and Archaeology or Music) options lists.

The remaining credits can be selected from the Department of Anthropology and Sociology list or the School of Arts options. See below for a detailed programme structure.

Teaching & Learning

Students taking the MA in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies will have the opportunity to achieve:

  • A critical awareness of contemporary theoretical debates in museum studies, cultural heritage studies, and material/visual culture studies;
  • A familiarity with the distinctive contributions of anthropology, art history and archaeology to these interdisciplinary fields;
  • A critical awareness of World Art/World Cultures/World Heritage, with an emphasis on SOAS’s regional specialisms (Asia, Africa and the Middle East) as well as transnational/diasporic contexts;
  • An understanding of ethnographic approaches to tangible and intangible heritage research;
  • Experience of object-based knowledge and museological research methods.

Visit the Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies - MA page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!




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Recipient: SOAS University of London

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