Introduction

The University of Aberdeen is following Scottish Government Guidelines in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes adhering to physical distancing measures to support a safe environment for our staff and students. Therefore, the programme structure and delivery method for September 2020 may differ slightly from that listed on this page. Find out more about September 2020 study with us.

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

Study Options

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MLitt
Duration
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January
Location of Study
Aberdeen

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 expertise in public engagement with research while gaining practical experience of museum work.

You will gain foundational curatorial skills and understanding of the history and philosophy of museums and the contemporary issues they face in the core courses: Researching Museum Collections, Museum Practice, The Museum Idea, and Navigating the Museum Workplace: Career Portfolio Project.

You can apply this knowledge in options like Learning and Museums, for which you will develop a public engagement event, and Museums and the Digital World, which involves designing a digital intervention for the University Museums and Special Collections.

During the summer term, you can choose Curating an Exhibition, which involves working with professional staff to create an exhibition on a topic of the class’s choice to be exhibited to the public at the Sir Duncan Rice Library Gallery or online. Students are responsible for all aspects of the exhibition, from object selection, to marketing, to design. Alternatively, you may research a topic in more depth through writing a Museum Studies dissertation. This route is recommended for those aiming to continue to the PhD in Museum Studies.

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. We offer maximum flexibility with a September or a January start date.

Available Programmes of Study

Museum Studies

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MLitt 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September View

Programme Information

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses
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, with class meetings held in the University's museums, including display areas, conservation laboratory and reserve collections.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Candidates must choose one of the following:

ED503E - Developing a Theory of Practice: Learning & Museums (30 credit points)

AT5050 - Museums and the Digital World (30 credit points)

Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Candidates must undertake both:

AT5526 - The Museum Idea (30 credit points)

AT5911 - Navigating the Museum Workplace: Career Portfolio Project (30 credit points)

Semester 3

Semester 3

Optional Courses

Candidates must take 60 credits from either:

AT5549 - Curating an Exhibition (60 credit points)

AT5908 - Museum Studies dissertation (60 credit points)


Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £9,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £19,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
MLitt 12 months On Campus Learning Full Time January Aberdeen View

Programme Information

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Candidates must take:

AT5526 - The Museum Idea (30 credit points)

AT5911 - Navigating the Museum Workplace: Career Portfolio Project (30 credit points)

Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Candidates must take 60 credits from the following:

AT5549 - Curating an Exhibition (60 credit points)

AT5908 - Museum Studies Dissertation (60 credit points)

Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
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, with class meetings held in the University's museums, including display areas, conservation laboratory and reserve collections.

View detailed information about this course
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.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Candidates must also undertake 30 credits from the following:

ED503E - Developing a Theory of Practice: Learning & Museums (30 credit points)

AT5050 - Museums and the Digital World (30 credit points)


Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £9,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year
International Students £19,000
Tuition Fees for 2020/21 Academic Year

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.

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 History of Art 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 history of art, 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 History of Art.
  • 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.
  • You will learn how to interpret academic and specialist knowledge for a wide public: a skill needed by a wide variety of careers.
  • You can customise your degree to specific areas of interest through the Education and Digital options, the Career Portfolio Project, and the dissertation. Curating an Exhibition will allow you to take on a specific role in alignment with your interests.
  • Courses involve close working with academic and professional staff. Through creating resources and activities for the public that use the collections, this combination brings together theoretical and professional issues with practical experience.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

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, history of art, 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

TOEFL iBT:

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

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 54; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & 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

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • 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.

Scholarships

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.

Postgraduate Open Day

Register to attend our Virtual Open Day on and speak live with academics.
Find out about life at the University of Aberdeen with a live Q&A with current students.

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Careers

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.

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.

What our Alumni Say

Chris Dobbs

Chris Dobbs

Chris Dobbs

Job Details
Collections Manager: Storage & Moves
Graduated 2014

Chris was a student in 2013-2014 and continued to volunteer at the University Museums after graduating and now works at the British Museum as Assistant Collections Manager: Storage and Moves. This course helped give me the confidence to interact with leading institutions, and an appreciation of all the tasks involved in day to day museum operations. The practical elements and placement were instrumental in giving me the experience necessary to gain employment within the museum sector.

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!

Cristina Mackenzie

Cristina Mackenzie

Cristina Mackenzie

Job Details
Curatorial Assistant (Exhibitions)
Graduated 2015

Christina was part of the 2014-2015 Museum Studies class. She worked first as the Communications Assistant at the University Museums and continues to work for the University Museums as the Curatorial Assistant (Exhibitions).

Maaike Van Houwelingen

Maaike Van Houwelingen

Maaike Van Houwelingen

Graduated 2015

The programme is designed to train you for a real job in a Museum. As part of the Curating an Exhibition course I was assigned the role of ‘Object selection and research,’ which provided me with the chance to work with the collection assistants at the museum. I had a great time exploring the Museum’s stores and selecting the team’s favourite objects to use in our exhibition! While the course provided me with a theoretical base, which proved useful during the progression of the course.

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
Curator
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.

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.

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.

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.

Facilities

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

  • King's Museum (changing displays of diverse collections in a historic building, with an emphasis on the lives of people).
  • 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).
Image for Sir Duncan Rice Library
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

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.

King's Museum

King’s Museum lies at the heart of the University's Old Aberdeen campus. As well as being Scotland's newest museum, it may also be the oldest as its origins lie in a museum collection established in King's College in 1727.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
School of Social Science
University of Aberdeen
Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
Aberdeen
AB24 3QY