Museum Studies

Museum Studies


Interdisciplinary research that examines how museums, galleries, and collections contribute to culture and society.

Study Information

At a Glance

Degree Qualification
MSc or PhD

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A PhD in Museum Studies allows students to embrace their interests in museums and galleries, as well as in heritage and collections. Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary field and students at Aberdeen can draw on the expertise of staff from a wide range of disciplines including Anthropology, Education, Philosophy, and Politics, as well as on the internationally important collections of the University Museums.

The PhD in Museum Studies is a research degree that is available as a campus-based or distance learning option. It requires the candidate to make an original and significant contribution to the discipline of Museum Studies. Holding a Masters degree is normally a qualification for entry and applicants will ideally have some professional experience of working in or with museums.

A student’s programme of work will be based on their own intellectual interests and will be developed in consultation with the student’s supervisors. The final product of the PhD is a thesis; this will be judged by two examiners and the candidate will be subject to an oral examination (the viva).

Prospective candidates are strongly encouraged to contact the Programme Director Professor Alison Brown in order to develop an original and feasible research project that can be completed within a typical three year programme of full-time study or six years of part-time study. Applicants with only an undergraduate degree should contact the Programme Director for advice prior to making an application.

Our Research

Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary field and so a supervisory team may involve a member of staff from outside of the School of Social Science, though it is expected that the primary supervisor will be in Social Science. Many staff across the University have interests in museums and collections-based research. Potential applicants are advised to contact the Programme Director, Professor Alison Brown, about their research aims before making an application so that a suitable supervisory team can be identified.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this programme must have a good honours degree in a related subject and must normally provide evidence of postgraduate training in research methods. Applicants must provide a detailed research proposal and two academic references from their most recent academic institution. Students with lengthy professional experience may submit a reference from an employer but should discuss this with the Programme Director in advance. Please see our leaflet: Guidelines for writing a Research Proposal:



A PhD in Museum Studies can prepare you for a range of career opportunities within the museums, galleries and heritage sector, such as in visitor engagement, research management, curatorial work, and policy development. It also prepares you for an academic position, teaching on Museum Studies and related programmes.

More information on the Careers and Employability Service

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Contact Details

Postgraduate Research School
University of Aberdeen
Crombie Hall
AB24 3TS