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MCH8503 : Understanding Objects, Collections and Stories in Museums, Galleries & Heritage

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Iain Wheeldon
  • Lecturer: Dr Gayle Meikle, Professor Andrew Newman, Dr Bruce Davenport, Mr Alistair Robinson, Professor Rhiannon Mason
  • 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 provide students with:

•       An introduction to the key issues, debates, theories and practices relating to objects and collections
in the Museum/Gallery/Heritage sector;

•       An introduction to the intellectual framework of communication and learning theories and their

•       An introduction to communication and interpretation planning in Museums, Galleries & Heritage Sites;

•       An introduction to different types of interpretation used in Museums, Galleries & Heritage Sites;

•       An introduction to writing interpretive text for communicating to visitors/users;

•       An introduction to the different approaches currently being employed to encourage dialogues and
discussion in Museums, Galleries & Heritage Sites.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module allows students to begin to understand the roles that material culture, objects and collections can play in communicating with users in Museums, Galleries and Heritage (MGH) sites, organisations and venues.

It examines the diverse ways information and ideas are communicated to visitors/users through a range of media and public programmes.

Throughout the module, an emphasis is placed on the (non)visitor/(non)user being an active participant in the process of meaning-making, communicating and learning.

As such communicating, learning & interpretation is presented within a constructivist framework that can increase visitor/user enjoyment and engagement with MGH venues.

It achieves this by examining three key themes:

1)       Objects, Things and Collections – in which student engage in discussion around what can constitute a collection and how they are/ can be formed;

2)       Interpretation and Stories – in which students think about and practice how to communicate different ideas and stimulate discussion with users;

3)       Politics of Engagement – in which students think about the different ways MGH sites encourage dialogue and discussion with their audiences.

Indicative issues covered in the module include:

An introduction to material culture; what are collections?; communication and learning theory; theory and practice related to the development of exhibitions; theory and practice of developing written text to communicate through display panels and exhibition labels; range of media approaches and types used to guide visitor/user engagement; the evaluation process and associated tools.

In addition, a fieldtrip will be scheduled.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops14:004:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork13:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study163:0063:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk31:003:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures: Delivered on campus (or online as necessary) in order to develop students' knowledge on key issues and achieve knowledge learning outcomes.

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

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.

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: Delivered online. This is a core teaching method to achieve all of the knowledge learning outcomes.

Fieldwork: on-site activity (or virtual if required) to engage with a case study site that complements and relates to other teaching methods and helps students to achieve knowledge learning outcomes.

Structured Guided Learning: This method allows students to engage with online lecture materials and skills activities.

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.

Workshops & Practicals: These teaching method allows students to put into practice concepts and ideas introduced on the modules.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1A1003500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module is designed to introduce students to the need for effective communication strategies across the MGH sector.

It provides the students with some theories and basic tools to use in ‘real-life’ situations.

Students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of the theories introduced in the module and their comprehension of how they are applied in practice

Reading Lists