About enrolling in the programmes:
About 'what happens afterwards':
Diploma students and Masters students receive exactly the same teaching throughout the course, and undertake the same assignments and practical projects. However, Diploma students do not do the dissertation element of the course, and therefore finish earlier, after the Work Placement.
Providing you have the necessary academic background, you can switch between the different degree programmes in the first two (three?) months of the course. After this time, it is impossible to switch as students start to work in teams on practical projects.
You can transfer from the Masters to the Diploma at any point in the programme.
This depends on the jobs you are going for, and the country where you are applying for work. The Diploma is recognised by many UK employers as an excellent practical qualification. However, undertaking a dissertation can be useful if applying for jobs that require you to demonstrate strong research skills (for example, collections research, or audience evaluation work). A Masters is also essential if you wish to go on to study for a PhD in the future.
Art Museum and Gallery Studies and Museum Studies both look at the basics of preventive conservation in museum environments, including handling, packing and marking of objects, environmental monitoring, and an introduction to documentation. However, none of the courses is designed for people wanting to work specifically as a museum conservator. To find these, go to the website of the Institute of Conservation which has lots of excellent advice about careers in conservation.
Classes get progressively smaller as your course continues. In the Autumn Term, all 5 programmes are brought together for lectures and study trips, so the group size is typically about 70-80. Lectures are alternated with small-group work and seminars, in groups of 10-15. In the Spring Term, you split into your specific programme strand, so group sizes decrease accordingly. Typically, Art Museum & Gallery Studies has around 15 students; Art Museum & Gallery Education 10 students; Heritage Education & Interpretation 10 students; Heritage Management 10 students; and Museum Studies 30-40 students. During the Museum Studies special options, groups can be as small as 2 (for Natural Sciences) and no larger than 15 (for Social History, Archaeology or Interpretation and Exhibitions).
All the staff members in ICCHS teach – you can see our profiles on the staff pages. Many of us have worked in museums, galleries or heritage for parts of our career, and we remain closely involved in the sector through our research and consultancy work, some of which influences policy-making at a national level. But we also use a wide variety of external lecturers (more than 100 last year) who are all practitioners in the field, working for organisations such as the National Trust, the V&A, English Heritage, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and Tyne and Wear Museums. We believe it is important that you hear about real projects and work in progress as much as possible. Museums, galleries and heritage is also a relatively small sector, and our external teachers help you to start to build up your own professional network, which will help you substantially in the future.
One of the greatest strengths of studying at ICCHS is the blend we offer between theory and practice. We believe that the theory underlying museum, gallery and heritage work is important, as it helps you to understand how the sector has developed as it has, and why things are currently done in certain ways. Hopefully, it also helps you develop you skills in critical thinking, so you can see where things need to be improved in the future! However, we also give you lots of opportunities for hands-on practice as well. All the modules have practical exercises embedded within them – from handling and packing objects, to writing a text panel, to formulating a strategic plan. These skills are further developed in teamwork projects in the Spring Term: for example, Art Museum and Gallery Studies students research and mount an exhibition in the Hatton Gallery. Lastly, you get to compare all you have learned with the workplace in your 8-week Work Placement.
Roughly one third of ICCHS students come from outside the UK. In recent years we have welcomed students from the USA, Canada, Greece, Eire, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Jordan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
Yes. ICCHS programmes are international in scope and every academic year we have lots of international and EU students who return to their home countries and find work successfully. During teaching sessions we aim to make the content as internationally relevant as possible, and this is aided by the fact that many of the lecturing staff members have significant experience of working in the sector overseas – for example in Africa, Italy, Greece, the US, the middle east, the far east and Scandinavia. Some European countries, such as Italy, Spain and France, have their own entry routes into the sector, but this is changing quickly as the sector becomes increasingly globalised. You may find that we concentrate a lot on British and North American examples during teaching because this is what we and our numerous external speakers know best, but we always encourage you to relate this to heritage, museum and gallery work in your own country. ICCHS staff members themselves are multinational, including Welsh, English, Greek, North American and African people.
There is no simple answer to this question, as every placement is unique. Each year we try to have as many different work placements as we can in museums, galleries and heritage sites from across the country and internationally as well. We don't try and prescribe what the hosts can or can't offer. We let them know what we hope to get out of the placement and then they send us a description of what a student might expect from a placement with them. Sometimes they offer a discrete project and sometimes they offer the chance to be involved in everything (which is what a lot of real jobs generally involve!). We believe this range is great, because students come with a range of backgrounds, interests and aspirations, so there is no single format of placement that will suit all.
Some examples of previous placements:
Increasingly, many students have to do some paid work whilst studying for their Masters – typically in the service sector at weekends or in the evenings. It is possible to juggle both, although you will need energy and good time management skills to make sure you get the balance right. We do expect students to be reading and working on assignments on the weeks where there is no teaching, so it is important that you do not over-commit yourself to paid work.
We accept a broad range of first degrees at ICCHS, including degrees such as History, Archaeology, Anthropology, English, Politics as well as science degrees amongst others. You must have some background in Art History or Fine Art to apply for either of the Art Museum and Gallery programmes.
We will consider applicants with a 2:2 provided that they have significant experience in the sector, through either voluntary or paid work. By significant, we generally mean a minimum of 3 months.
You don’t have to have experience of working in the sector before applying. However, we believe you will get more out of the programme if you have, as it will give you a stronger contextual framework on which to build your learning. Voluntary work is also useful for helping you to decide what type of jobs you are interested in; this will affect your choice of programme and/or modules. Evidence of hands-on work experience will also strengthen your job applications in the future. While we help you with this with the placement module, many employers will be looking for additional evidence of your commitment to the sector from volunteering.
Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are returning to study after several years working in museums, galleries or heritage; some are changing careers from another sector as mature students; others are following on from their first degree and have minimal voluntary experience only.
You must normally have some experience of studying an art-related subject at university. These include: art history, visual studies, fine art, craft, design and photography. Basic familiarity with art history (in general and as a discipline) is particularly important because you will be required to work confidently with art historical concepts and concerns as they pertain to the art museum and gallery context. It is not necessary for you to have a full degree in an art-related subject, but it should be a significant component of your degree. For example, a UK student would be expected to have completed at least 80 credits in art-related subjects, while a US student would be expected to have at least a minor. If you do not have a relevant degree we will consider your application if you have significant, longstanding experience of working within the art world, and have built up a good understanding of art and art history as a consequence. If you are unsure about whether your experience qualifies you to apply then contact Iain Wheeldon, admissions officer.
Yes, you can attend one module as part of your Continuing Professional Development. You will obtain a certificate of attendance, and transferable credits should you choose to return and do further study at a later date.
Information about sources of funding can be found in the Funding section of this website.
You are most welcome to visit ICCHS at any time – contact the Admissions Tutor to arrange an appointment. ICCHS also runs two Open Days a year, where you can learn more about the courses and meet a range of staff and ex-students.
Like much of the public sector, competition for jobs in the museums, galleries and heritage sector is high. Entry level jobs are typically short-term contracts. Also, salaries in vocational jobs in the public sector are not noted for their high salaries at entry level. However, after some time most graduates are able to find secure and better-paid work in the sector, and every year some of our students achieve this while completing the programme or just after graduating. It also helps if you are willing to move around the country for work. But if you have a good Masters, write convincing application forms closely tailored to the requirements of the job, and can demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to the sector in interview, you will be a strong candidate for the job. During the programmes we provide opportunities for you to develop your skills in applying for jobs and your tutor will also be able to give you good advice about this.
In the past couple of years, our graduates have got work in the following positions:
(These are just a selection of the many other jobs obtained).
We also have graduates from a few years’ back who have now progressed to:
This is a difficult question to answer, as not all students keep in touch with us after they leave to tell us where they are working. Inevitably, some people decide that working in museums, galleries or heritage is not for them. In a recent survey of graduates, of the 122 who responded, 17% are still seeking work either in the sector or elsewhere (21 people). 63% are working in the sector (76 people) and 10% are studying for a PhD (13 people). The rest are working in consultancy or in other closely affiliated sectors, such as education and architecture.
Information about voluntary experience in the sector can be found in our Career section.