Art History and World Art Studies runs one of the longest-established programmes in Museum Studies in the UK – and the only one based inside an art gallery, the Norman Foster-designed Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA). The course combines the cutting-edge research and curatorial experience of our academic staff with the professional resources and experience of the SCVA. It also draws on resources in London and in the region, notably the Norfolk Museums Service, and incorporates a number of museum visits and expert speakers. Students undertake a year-long work placement in tandem with their degree.
A maximum intake of 12 students per year means that the course is student-centred and offers intensive preparation for either a career in the museum profession or a higher research degree in museum studies. Students gain an understanding of the history and theory behind museums plus hands-on training in all aspects of museum work – conservation and curation; education and outreach; exhibition design and visitor services; and governance, legal frameworks, marketing and development. Employability is central to the programme, with exposure to a wide range of career options and contact with professionals from across the sector.
The MA is available full-time. Throughout the degree, students spend one to two days a week on a tailored, individual placement with a local museum; up to four students receive Museum Studies Internships for placements in the SCVA. The taught components of the course bring together in-depth historical and theoretical approaches to museums with practice-based modules addressing the public role of the museum, collections management and interpretation, with an emphasis on topical issues and responsive engagement.
The taught element of the master’s degree includes a compulsory module on the history and theory of museums in the autumn semester and practice-based training in the curation of collections in the spring. Students also undertake two interconnected autumn and spring modules on professional practice, which include museum visits with privileged access and regular lectures by leading professionals. These modules are taken together with the cohort of students on the MA in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, offering a lively and supportive peer learning environment. Previous guest speakers have hailed from institutions as diverse as the British Museum, the Houses of Parliament, the National Trust and Tate Britain, as well as from private businesses serving the museum and heritage sector.
In addition to the taught modules, students on the Museum Studies degree complete two individual forms of assessment: a substantial management plan or project report based on their work placement (due in May), and a dissertation of 12,000 words (due in September). Working closely with a supervisor, students choose a dissertation topic that combines their academic and museological interests.
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Last updated August 1, 2016