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MAMuseums, Galleries and Contemporary Culture

Tuition fee £12,500 per year
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Expenses, accommodation, working etc. 


This course looks at the way that museums, galleries and other cultural institutions are changing to meet the needs of the 21st century. The MA has been designed for students who wish to work as curators, arts organisers, museum professional and other cultural managers and who want to know in particular how these institutions face contemporary issues. It looks at the changing role of cultural provision and how agencies, festivals and flexible organisations shape, house, fund, and disseminate culture today. The course also gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the contemporary debates about working practices in cultural institutions, and the changing context in which organisations operate.

The course concentrates on professional practice and you will work closely with institutions such as Tate Britain and the Museum of London, and conduct case studies into creative projects run by organisations as diverse as the Victoria and Albert Museum, smaller independent galleries and London-based festivals and arts organisations. Classes are taught off-site at other institutions, and involve professionals from the sector as much as possible to give you an understanding of vocational issues and a close involvement in the workplace.

You will examine key issues and themes in the museums and gallery sector, and explore how these are dealt with not just in theory, but also on a day-to-day basis by leading institutions. You will learn about the challenges faced by museums and galleries, how they confront them and how they are developing innovative practices in relation to their collections, exhibitions and audiences. For example, sessions address how institutions use internet resources for learning and to promote their collections, new approaches to understanding arts audiences, and collaborations between creative arts organisations and museums.

Gaining professional knowledge is an important part of the course and you will be encouraged to have a close involvement with institutions through internships, work placements and projects. The course is also designed to facilitate students who are currently in professional employment in cultural institutions. Professional work projects or internships can be used to replace modules on the course, as special study units, so that your work experience can contribute to the degree.

The course is taught alongside the Visual Culture MA and shares modules with this and with other MAs taught in the Department, offering you a broad theoretic context that can cover wider aspects of the arts. The teaching team are curators, museum and gallery professionals, as well as scholars and fine artists. Teaching methods include seminars, tutorials, practical sessions and workshops, together with independent, student-directed study. The course has a strong emphasis on vocational learning, and you are encouraged to undertake professional placements and internships.

Assessment methods include coursework (essays, oral presentations and professional project reports) as well as the final 10-12,000-word dissertation. There are no formal examinations.

Programme structure

Core modules

This module introduces students to the current issues being discussed by professionals and the pressing issues that are facing their institutions. They range from the changing role of organisations as public bodies and what their responsibilities are, to working in a post-recession economy where public funding is diminishing, to the ethics of sponsorship from the private sector. It will address topical issues such as the inclusivity and accessibility of organisations to audiences with disabilities and how museums deal with claims for the repatriation of artefacts to other countries.

The module is structured around talks from museum and gallery professionals with additional reading groups where students will tackle the way issues are discussed in professional journals. This is a core module that all students will take as it covers essential knowledge for the MA.

This extended piece of research work is an opportunity for you to pursue a topic of individual interest, and is conducted through individual study and directed supervision. The module also includes preparation of a detailed research proposal. It consists of preliminary workshops focused on relevant research skills, followed by individual tutorials with your supervisor.

Career opportunities

Graduates will have the skills to work in a variety of positions in the cultural sector, including in the post of curator, consultant, arts and media strategists and advisers, funding officers or education and interpretation officers.

Apply now! Spring semester 2019/20
Application period has ended
Studies commence
Feb 1, 2020

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States