Museum Studies, MLitt

Museum Studies, MLitt


The one-year Museum Studies master's programme draws on the University’s extensive museum collections to enable you to explore critical approaches to museum theory while also studying the application of museum practice and research at first hand.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

The University of Aberdeen’s museum collections are among the oldest, largest and most significant in the country, having the status of a Recognised Collection of National Significance. In fact, Aberdeen is one of the very few UK universities to have international-quality collections relating to the natural and cultural worlds.

The Museum Studies programme makes significant use of these collections to enable you to study the historical and contemporary roles of museums in society and develop skills in public engagement with research while gaining practical experience of museum work. You will gain foundational curatorial skills and an appreciation of contemporary issues museums face in the core courses: Researching Museum Collections, Museum Practice, The Museum Idea, and Navigating the Museum Workplace. You can apply this knowledge in options like Learning and Museums, for which you will develop a public engagement event, Museums and the Digital World, which involves designing a digital intervention for the University Museums and Special Collections, and Decolonising Museums, which tackles one of the most pressing issues facing the sector today.

During the summer you can choose Curating an Exhibition, which involves working with museum staff to design an exhibition on a topic of the class’s choice to be shown at the Sir Duncan Rice Library Gallery or online. You may prefer to research a topic in depth through writing a Museum Studies dissertation, a route recommended for those aiming to continue to the PhD in Museum Studies. Finally, the Museum Studies Placement allows students put their skills into practice by carrying out a project in a partner museum.

Our assessments involve skills you will utilise in a career in the heritage sector, for example, drafting mock grant applications, and putting together a career plan, as well as enhancing your skills in research and academic writing.

What You'll Study

Stage 1

Compulsory Courses

Normally, students will take 60 credits in Stage 1. The following courses are mandatory:

Museum Practice (AT5044)

15 Credit Points

"Museum Practice" examines some of the key issues facing museums today and how they are responding. The course will consider critically professional practices of collections management, care and documentation, examining the social, political and ethical issues within which they operate. The course is taught by a team of academic and professional staff, making use of the University's museums, including exhibitions, collections and conservation facilities and activities.

Researching Museum Collections (AT5043)

15 Credit Points

Research and interpreting artefacts is core to many aspects of museum work. This course gives students experience of working directly with the collections of the University Museums. By preparing an in-depth study of one artefact, students will develop skills in close observation of artefacts and of sourcing archival and secondary information. They will also learn how to apply current approaches to working with material culture, drawn from anthropology, history and museum studies, to museum collections.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Optional Courses

In addition, students will normally take a further 30 credit points from the following electives (some courses may not be available in every year, others may be made available):

Developing A Theory of Practice: Learning and Museums (ED503E)

30 Credit Points

This course will focus on the theoretical and professional issues relating to learning and museums, including informal and formal learning, professional identity, regulatory and curriculum contexts, relationships between community and professional providers and social inclusion. Alongside seminars, normally held in the University’s museums, tutor-directed activities will include visits and observation of learning activities in local museums and similar organisations.

The course is intended to enable participants to reflect on current provision and practice in relation to learning in museums through critical consideration of current constructions and understandings of the ways in which museums are sites of learning for visitors.

Museums and the Digital World (AT5050)

30 Credit Points

Given the expanding use of the Internet and new media forms, museums are re-evaluating their relationships with their audiences as well as their relationships with collections. This course introduces students to a wide range of digital technologies as they relate to museums e.g., online exhibitions, smart phone apps, and 3D imagery. Students will examine the impact and consequences of using digital approaches, and the implications for museums and their users of these rapidly changing technologies.

Decolonising Museums (AT5053)

30 Credit Points

Museums worldwide are grappling with the complex legacies of colonialism that have shaped collections, institutional practices, and museum relationships with their users. This course introduces students to current debates regarding how - and if - the museum can fully decolonise. It also gives them a grounding in the historical, social, and institutional contexts which have led to these debates, and introduces practice-based strategies to address one of the key challenges facing museums and heritage institutions today.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Normally, students will take 60 credits in Stage 2. The following courses are mandatory:

The Museum Idea (AT5526)

30 Credit Points

Why do human beings collect and what is the purpose of museums? ‘The Museum Idea’ examines these questions by focusing on the history and philosophy of museums and relating these to contemporary museum practice. The course will examine the role of museums in society through case studies of exhibitions and other museum projects in a variety of settings, including art, history and ethnographic museums.

Navigating the Museum Workplace: Career Portfolio Project (AT5555)

30 Credit Points

Students will undergo a course preparing them for the museum as a workplace, involving input from a variety of practitioners at different career stages and in different areas within the museum sector. They will complete a 6,000 word Career Portfolio as their assessment.

Stage 3

Compulsory Courses

Normally, students will take 60 credits in Stage 3 from the following electives (some courses may not be available in every year, others may be made available):

Curating an Exhibition (AT5912)

60 Credit Points

The ‘Curating an Exhibition’ course leads to the creation and opening of an exhibition for the University’s museums. Working together as a team, each student also takes on a specific role, including research, writing, design, installation, marketing, working closely with professional members of museum staff. The course makes extensive use of the University’s internationally-important museum collections and gives students an opportunity to reflect on an important aspect of museum practice.

Museum Studies Dissertation (AT5908)

60 Credit Points

This course builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in taught courses in the MLitt Museums Studies programme. In completing their dissertation, students will be expected to demonstrate that they can conduct advanced library research, prepare an extensive literature reviews situating their research question in its wider academic and professional context, and write and edit a large piece of work. In addition, they will be required to prepare abstracts and bibliographies and assess the ethical issues involved in original research. All students will receive staff supervision in identifying a suitable topic and in completing an original research project.

Museum Studies Placement (AT5913)

60 Credit Points

As a practice-based alternative to a dissertation, students take part in a 20 day placement in a museum or gallery followed by writing an 8,000 word Museum Studies Project. Some students opt for a four-week placement in the early summer, while others choose to make a regular arrangement to volunteer in a local museum during term-time. Placements are offered in a range of museums in Scotland, but students can also identify other possibilities themselves.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Home / RUK £11,077
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

How You'll Study

An important feature of the Museum Studies programme is its extensive use of the University’s museums and collections and involvement of both academic staff in a range of related disciplines such as Anthropology, Archaeology, Education and Art History and the professional staff of the University’s museums. Teaching of the Museum Studies courses is in small groups, with one-to one supervision for the Project.

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

Assessments will combine practical skills and academic writing. These include developing a career portfolio, report writing, drafting mock grant applications, writing for a public audience etc. All the assignments are designed to provide students with experience of the kind of writing required for a career in the heritage sector.

Why Study Museum Studies?

  • The Museum Studies programme is aimed at graduates in anthropology, archaeology, history and art history, and cultural and communication studies, but also attracts students from other disciplines who wish to develop expertise in public engagement with research and the cultural and heritage sectors. 
  • Teaching is delivered by practising museum professionals and academic specialists from Museum Studies, Anthropology, and Education. Guest lectures may be given by staff from disciplines including Archaeology, Law, Philosophy, and Art History, and from external colleagues based in a wide range of national and international museums. 
  • The University’s extensive museum collections are intimately linked with the University’s libraries and archives. The collections consist of European and Mediterranean Archaeology, Fine Art, Non-Western Archaeology and Ethnography, Numismatics, Scientific Instruments, Scottish History & Archaeology, Anatomy, Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Geology, Herbarium and Zoology.   
  • Across the University, there are several lecture and seminar series which you may find of interest, including those of Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, Visual Culture and History, and the Museums and Special Collections evening lecture programme. 
  • You learn by applying your intellectual skills to live museum situations, providing you with a portfolio of experience along with your MLitt Museum Studies when you graduate.  The programme thus brings together theoretical issues and professional expertise. 
  • You will learn how to interpret academic and specialist knowledge for a wide public: a skill needed by a variety of careers.
  • You can customise your degree to specific areas of interest via our options in education, digital skills, and understanding decolonsation in the context of the museum sector. Furthermore, Curating an Exhibition allows you to take on a role in alignment with your professional goals; we offer a range of placement opportunities which vary year on year; and the dissertation allows you to expand on knowledge developed through the programme.
  • Volunteering opportunities are often available for students wanting to engage with the University’s Museum collections.      

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body in a relevant discipline, such as, but not limited to, anthropology, history, art history, media studies, cultural studies, digital heritage, archaeology, geography, environmental sciences, biology, ecology or science communication.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results, an applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals


This degree provides suitable preparation for working in museums, galleries and heritage institutions, for those who wish to conduct further research in Museum Studies, and for an academic role in a variety of associated fields. It is also a valuable degree for those who are interested in developing ways of communicating academic work to the public.

Graduates of this programme have gone on to work at institutions including the British Museum, the Royal Collection Trust, the National Trust, Juneau Douglas City Museum and the Gordon Highlanders Museum, in the following areas:

  • Collections Management
  • Curatorship
  • Exhibition Development
  • Program Management
  • Museum Research

The programme is geared towards both vocational study for work in the sector, and those wishing to pursue an academic career. It offers students the opportunity to engage in a number of transferable skills, such as project management, teamwork and research which are required across a broad range of roles and sectors.

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Museums Fill in Our Past to Create Our Future

Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment by understanding the past and how it created our present and how it influences our future.

Studying at the School of Social Science

Students from the School of Social Science tell us more about their experience studying at the University of Aberdeen and their perspectives on life in Aberdeen.

What our Alumni Say

CJ Martonchik

CJ Martonchik

CJ Martonchik

Job Details
Collections Management Intern, The Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, MI)
Graduated 2023

I started the Museum Studies program in January 2022, and I had a wonderful year! I enjoyed every single class, trip, and excursion, and I learned an incredible amount about the complexity of museum work. I am now working as an intern at the museum I used to work for in a front-of-house capacity. I can finally start the work I always wanted to do with museum collections! The opportunity to work with so many talented people is too good to miss; I would highly recommend this program.

Find out more

Sarah Jarmain

Sarah Jarmain

Sarah Jarmain

Job Details
Information and Education Officer, Parliament of Ontario
Graduated 2020

I was attracted to Aberdeen because it offers a one year program (which made financial sense), and a placement opportunity that I felt would be a valuable experience. I completed a placement with Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums and worked primarily at the Aberdeen Treasure Hub.

Emily Scott

Emily Scott

Emily Scott

Job Details
Project Leader, Sooke Region Museum & Visitor Centre (Canada)
Graduated 2019

I left Aberdeen almost a year ago now, and I still reflect on my time there with a large amount of passion. Through the museum placement, I was given the opportunity to curate an exhibition entirely on my own and developed a new research interest in lighthouses in the process. I returned to Canada and gained not only a new position at a local museum, but also an internship in an online museum curated specifically for girls all over the world

Amber-Kathleen Bullock

Amber-Kathleen Bullock

Amber-Kathleen Bullock

Graduated 2019

I chose the University of Aberdeen's Museum Studies programme because of it's Curating and Exhibition class and the placement opportunity. I like being able to learn with hands on experience, and that was advertised on the program website. My favourite classes through the program were the Researching Museum Collections, where I researched and Japanese netsuke, and my Museum Studies Project, where I did my placement at the Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Amanda Hoffman

Amanda Hoffman

Amanda Hoffman

Job Details
Programs Manager, Tampa Bay History Center
Graduated 2017

I looked at various museum studies programs but chose to attend Aberdeen because it was the most hands-on. In the museum industry, having practical skills is equally as important as having theoretical knowledge.

Kieran George

Kieran George

Kieran George

Job Details
Assistant Curator, The British Golf Museum
Graduated 2017

I had the chance to curate an exhibition with other students on the course and carry out a work placement in a museum. These opportunities provided me with the skills and experience necessary to forge a career in the museum sector.

Rebecca Guetter

Rebecca Guetter

Rebecca Guetter

Job Details
Historic Property Assisting in Delivering Special Event Programs in USA
Graduated 2015

I chose this course because it offered the best opportunities for practical experience. Nowadays, even some entry-level positions require previous work experience, & this programme provided me with that & much more. I loved that the course provided us with multiple opportunities for practical museum experiences from being a gallery assistant at King’s Museum to completing a 20-day placement at a museum or heritage site. As clichéd as it sounds, it was the best year of my life.

Ruth Duncan

Ruth Duncan

Ruth Duncan

Job Details
Graduated 2015

Competition for paid museums jobs is fierce, so chose the course in the hope that it would help me to stand out from the crowd. I gained practical experience in museum curation, which was vital for building up my CV and also for getting a sense of what it would actually be like to work in a museum and curate a museum. I would encourage anyone thinking about a career in museums or galleries to choose this course and to throw themselves into it wholeheartedly.

Abbie Mitchell

Abbie Mitchell

Abbie Mitchell

Graduated 2015

The programme provided me with unparalleled experience & insight into the museum & heritage sector. The historical & theoretical evolution of museums is explored through a variety of lecturers from different disciplines & also covers current ethical & legal frameworks to which museums must adhere. Most importantly, however, this course has given me a breadth of experience in the museum sector through hands on projects, exhibition & a work placement – it truly is the full package!

Chris Dobbs

Chris Dobbs

Chris Dobbs

Job Details
National Army Museum
Graduated 2014

Chris was a student from 2013-2014. Having worked in collections management at the British Museum for several years following graduation, he is now the Registrar at the National Army Museum. This course helped give me the confidence to interact with leading institutions, & an appreciation of all the tasks involved in day to day museum operations. The practical elements & placement were instrumental in giving me the experience necessary to gain employment within the museum sector.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


As well as academic facilities, you will work within the University’s museums, including:

  • Zoology Museum (worldwide in scope, from protozoa to the great whales, including taxidermy, skeletal material, study skins, fluid-preserved specimens and models.
  • Museums Collections Centre (the location of most of the human culture collections).
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Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

Find out more
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Zoology Museum

Zoology Museum

The museum’s displays are worldwide in scope, from protozoa to the great whales, including taxidermy, skeletal material, study skins, fluid-preserved specimens and models.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX