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MCH8503: Understanding Objects, Collections and Stories

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

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


Student Hours
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Lecture 6 2:00 12:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Workshops 1 4:00 4:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Small Group Teaching 7 1:00 7:00 N/A
Guided Independent Study Assessment preparation and completion 1 50:00 50:00 N/A
Guided Independent Study Directed research and reading 1 50:00 50:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Fieldwork 1 3:00 3:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Workshops 1 2:00 2:00 N/A
Guided Independent Study Independent Study 1 63:00 63:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Lecture 2 1:00 2:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities Module talk  3 1:00  3:00 N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities  Workshops  1 3:00  3:00 N/A
Structured Guided Learning Lecture materials 1 1:00 1:00 N/A
Total     200:00    


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

DescriptionSemesterWhen SetPercentageComment
Report 1 1 A 100 3,500 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

MCH8503's Reading List will be published prior to induction


Timetable Website: