Skip to main content


MCH8501 : Understanding Challenges in Museum/Gallery/Heritage Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joanne Sayner
  • Lecturer: Professor Rhiannon Mason, Professor Christopher Whitehead, Professor Peter Stone, Dr Gonul Bozoglu, Dr Bruce Davenport, Dr Gayle Meikle, Dr Areti Galani
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of the module are to give students:

An intellectual framework for understanding past, present, and future roles and challenges for museums, art museums/galleries and heritage.

An introduction to, and intellectual framework for, understanding changes in the museums, art museums/galleries and heritage sector.

An introduction to the wide variety of contexts in which museums, art museums/galleries and heritage institutions operate; and

The opportunity to gain the basic knowledge required to work a changing museums, art museums/galleries and heritage sector on graduation.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module examines the history, contemporary issues/ideas and future possibilities affecting the museums, art museums/galleries and heritage sector in order to understand challenges and changes. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the various intellectual, ethical, and practical contexts within which organisations in the sector are situated, along with the pressures, challenges, and opportunities they face. The module is intended to be both generic and specific to the three programme areas of museum, art museum/gallery and heritage studies. It achieves this by examining the broader issues while at the same time relating them to specific examples drawn from the three areas. The module has been organised in this way in order to: 1) enable you to explore the relationships between past, present and future; 2) expand students' general knowledge of museums, art museums, galleries and heritage organisations; 3) consider how, in many instances, they are dealing with similar challenges and concerns; and; 4) learn from their respective responses to these challenges and concerns.

Indicative issues to be covered in the module include: 1) the roles and functions of museums, art museums, galleries and heritage organisations in society; 2) their priorities, values and significance in relation to sector users, audiences and non-audiences; 3) their respective historical developments and present situations; 4) the politics of representation (e.g., questions of identity construction, cultural diversity and ownership); 5) contestation, controversy, conflict and ethical dilemmas (e.g., repatriation, censorship, propaganda and illicit trade); 6) current debates; 7) the diversity of the roles they play (i.e., their involvement with tourism, social inclusion, economic regeneration, and the construction of cultural identities); 8) the digital dimension; and, 9) potential futures.

In addition, as part of a series of events during enrichment week, an in-person or virtual fieldtrip will be scheduled.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion170:0070:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00On-campus introductory and concluding lectures (can be done online if necessary).
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials82:0016:00Non-synchronous online lecture materials
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading166:0066:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Seminars on campus (can be delivered online if necessary).
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00On-campus seminars (can be delivered online if necessary)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery10:300:30On-campus discussion of formative essay plan (can be delivered online if necessary).
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:3030:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:00On-campus module introduction and assessment briefing (can be delivered online if necessary).
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Module talk: This teaching method will be used to introduce the module and brief students about assessment.

Drop-in/surgery: This teaching method will be used to support students in working towards the assignment and offer preliminary feedback on essay outlines.

Lecture materials: This is the core teaching method to achieve all of the knowledge learning outcomes.

Small-group teaching: This teaching method is intended to allow students to consolidate knowledge learning outcomes and to meet the skills outcomes through critically applying their new knowledge. It also allows students to practice all of the skillsets within the Graduate Skills Framework.

Structured research and reading activities: This teaching method enables students to independently deepen knowledge outcomes and to practise all skills outcomes, as well as applying cognitive/intellectual, self-management and interaction skills in particular.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1003,500 words, including a 100-word abstract but excluding list of references
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MEssay outline plan, 500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module has been designed to introduce students to, and familiarise them with, the complexity and parameters of the field and its stakeholders. The assignment is intended to give the student an opportunity to explore a specific set of issues in greater depth and to engage critically with the relevant literature. It also should help the student to 1) develop valuable skills of research, writing, and analysis, 2) recognise and evaluate different sources of information, and 3) build a solid foundation of knowledge in their area of interest.

Reading Lists