Introduction

Scotland has over 350 museums - a veritable treasure trove of inspiration, home to some of the most coveted art and artefacts in the world and an important part of the country’s culture and economy.

The Aberdeen MLitt Museum Studies provides you with a rich combination of the academic study of museums and collections since the Renaissance with the practical experience of thinking about and working in museums today.

This programme is studied on campus.

Museums are increasingly important in a modern world with a wide range of research focusing on their history, collections, practices and social roles. The MLitt in Museum Studies makes much use of the University’s internationally important collections and museums to explore these issues and to give practical experience of working in a museum, working closely with professional as well as academic staff. Information about these collections and activities is available on The University of Aberdeen Museums website.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

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

What You'll Study

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.

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The Museum Idea (AT5047) - 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.

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Optional Courses

30 credit points from the following electives:

Research Skills in Anthropology (AT5033) - 15 Credit Points

This course allows students to learn about and practice research skills in social anthropology through a series of workshops. It will encourage reflexive awareness of the role of research skill, technique and methodology in the discipline. Topics will include the history of methods in anthropology, participant observation, writing fieldnotes, interviews, analysis, and working with media technologies, historical resources and museums. Case studies of how these skills are combined in practical fieldwork will be held. Students will be expected to bring any previous experience of anthropological fieldwork to bear on the discussions, and to develop ideas for their future research practice.

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Art and Business (HA5032) - 30 Credit Points

This course, which combines theoretical learning with a hands-on approach, exposes you to the realities of the art market and financial aspects of art dealing and heritage conservation. You will engage with professionals in the field who explain the reality of running an art business, including different types of gallery, an auction house, an historic venue, and an individual artist. The role of art as a major economic and social catalyst is explored through various regeneration schemes. There will be onsite visits to galleries and auctions, during which you will interview key practitioners in the field.

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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.

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Supervised Reading i (AT5029) - 15 Credit Points

The course comprises a programme of readings that will be devised in advance through consultation between student and supervisor, in light of the student’s intended research interests. The student will write a 3000 word essay on the readings.

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Connoisseurship: Art in Scotland (HA5033) - 15 Credit Points

This course is appropriate both for budding professional art historians and those hoping to enter the art trade. It provides training in making decisions about attribution, fakes and forgeries through studying classic puzzles about forgery, deception and attribution. Modern methods of authentication, such as technical analysis, will also be examined to develop the key skills of visual and scientific analysis that are essential for art dealers. Download Course Guide

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Public Engagement for the Arts (EL5096) - 30 Credit Points

Art and culture are integral to our daily lives, and the ways in which these are experienced are continually changing. Whether it is in a street performance, a public gallery, an academic festival, a webcast, a documentary or in social media, the relationship between the creative artist and those who consume it, is complex and can itself be a creative process. This course explores the many ways in which creative materials can be brought to public view, and how different forms of communication, aural, verbal and visual, can enhance public engagement with aesthetic experiences and the discourses around these.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Students must take either AT5508 or ED553E or AT5545 plus a further 30 credits from the Optional Courses.

Compulsory Courses

Curating an Exhibition (AT5508) - 30 Credit Points

The ‘Curating an Exhibition’ course leads to the creation and opening of the summer exhibition in King’s Museum. Working together as a team, each student also takes on a specific role, including research, writing, design, installation, events management and marketing, working closely with the relevant 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.

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Developing A Theory of Practice: Learning and Museums (ED553E) - 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.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Approaching Archives (HI552L) - 15 Credit Points

What is an archive and how can it be used? Students are introduced to some archives in Aberdeen and learn how to make best use of these important resources for research. Seminars investigate the history and philosophy of archival collections, and how they relate to museums, libraries and galleries; approaches to the evaluation of contents of archives and qualitative analyses of specific collections. Assessment is based on a 5000-word essay in which students are asked to identify and analyse material from a specific archive which may be in Aberdeen, or elsewhere in Scotland, the UK, or abroad. Download Course Guide

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Northern Peoples and Cultures (AY5501) - 30 Credit Points

In a series of text based student-led seminars we study past Northern Peoples and Cultures through key topical debates, characteristic for different cultural regions and time periods. In the seminars students examine a range of northern contexts, from prehistory to more recent times all over the Circumpolar North. Students encounter topics as versatile as animal domestication in Northern Eurasia, Scandinavian Vikings, and Colonial North America illustrating the diversity of life and thought in Northern communities. Each seminar will also explore how particular key issues have become central to the ‘identity’ of archaeological research in the respective areas

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Advanced Archaeological Approaches (AY5504) - 30 Credit Points

As an advanced engagement with current trends and approaches in Northern Archaeology students examine current cutting edge debates associated with new theories and methodologies in archaeological research. Students will encounter the versatility of methodological and theoretical approaches in Northern research through four different themes central to the Archaeology of the North; Body and Death, Heritage and Memory, Social Space and Structures, Human and Environment. Each theme is explored through series of research led seminars and a practical, approaching the theme from different theoretical/methodological angels. The main assessment of the course is an Internal Masters Conference on these four themes.

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Curating an Exhibition (AT5508) - 30 Credit Points

The ‘Curating an Exhibition’ course leads to the creation and opening of the summer exhibition in King’s Museum. Working together as a team, each student also takes on a specific role, including research, writing, design, installation, events management and marketing, working closely with the relevant 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.

View detailed information about this course

Developing A Theory of Practice: Learning and Museums (ED553E) - 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.

View detailed information about this course

Supervised Reading II (AT5529) - 15 Credit Points

The course comprises a programme of readings that will be devised in advance through consultation between student and supervisor, in light of the student’s intended research interests. The student will write a 3000 word essay on the readings.

View detailed information about this course

Oral Traditions (EF5501) - 30 Credit Points

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

AT5909

Museum Studies Project (AT5909) - 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.

View detailed information about this course

Course Availability

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

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

By a combination of coursework, written and oral examinations as prescribed for each course, the degree of MLitt shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CGC mark of D3 or above in the Museum Studies Project irrespective of their marks in other courses.
Candidates who elect not to proceed via the project to an MLitt shall be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma if they have achieved a total of 120 credit points.

Why Study Museum Studies?

  • 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.
  • Museum Studies at Aberdeen allows you to customise your MLitt Museum Studies to specific areas of interest with regard to the type of collections and extra knowledge in which you wish to specialise.

At the University of Aberdeen, an MLitt in Museum Studies allows you to carry out a practical museum project in a placement offered by a partner museum in the region and beyond, adding to your 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 at least 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body. In exceptional circumstances, 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.

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.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

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

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

This degree provides suitable preparation for working in the museums, galleries and similar institutions, those who wish to conduct further research in Museum Studies or related fields. It would also be useful for those who are interested in developing ways of communicating academic work to a wider public.

Biographies from previous students: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/socsci/courses/postgraduate-taught-145.php

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.

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