MCH8501 : Understanding Challenges in Museum/Gallery/Heritage Studies

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 your 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.

Issues to be covered in the module include: 1) the roles, and functions of museums, art museums, galleries and heritage organisations in society; 2) the 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, ownership); 5) contestation, controversy, conflict and ethical dilemmas (e.g., repatriation, censorship, propaganda, 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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching52:0010:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study179:0079:00independent study and fieldwork
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

A formal taught session (normally delivered to the whole cohort on a module) which consists largely of the exposition of theory, themes, methodologies and techniques.

Small group teaching
Small group sessions based on reading and discussion and sometimes on students’ presenting in seminar groups, workshops to study issues and ideas, practical activities and debates.

Undertaking work outside the university to collect data and develop skills e.g. field trips; archaeological excavation; site visits; cinema and theatre visits; visits to museums and galleries.

This broad category refers to independent student activity and covers the range from reading and preparation through to situations where students are required to work in groups without staff supervision or where students are required to undertake very specific pieces of work.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1003,500 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