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Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA

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Course description

Art Gallery and Museum Studies (AGMS) has been taught at The University of Manchester for over 40 years and our alumni have reached senior positions in museums and galleries throughout the UK and overseas. Today, the AGMS is continually being reviewed and developed in response to new research and shifts in museum practice. Throughout the degree, you will examine diverse of museum theory and practice, visit museums, galleries and cultural organisations, and have many opportunities to discuss ideas and issues with professionals and academics in the field.

AGMS is a modular degree with core and optional elements totaling to 180 credits. Core and options courses combine to make 120 credits with the remaining 60 credits allocated to the dissertation.

Semester 1

Full-time students take two core course: `The Museum and its Contexts', and `Museums Objects and Exhibitions' (each 30 credits). These core courses are designed to introduce you to key issues and ideas in museum practice and approaches to the study and analysis of museums.

Semester 2

Semester two option courses build on the knowledge you have gained in semester one and enable you to develop expertise in a particular area of curating (eg art, archaeology or ethnography) or museum practice (eg museum learning or management). Full-time students choose two option course (each 30 credits). These may include:

  • Museum and Gallery Curating - with specialised routes on:       
  •   Curating Art
  •   Curating Archaeology
  •   Curating Nature and Science
  •   Curating Ethnography
  •   Digital Curating
  • Museum Policy and Management
  • Museums of Conflict and Conscience
  • Creative Learning: Arts, Heritage and Education [jointly withMA Arts Management, Policy and Practice]
  • Enhanced Work Placement

Dissertation (Semester 2 and Summer)

The MA concludes with a dissertation (60 credits) on a topic of your choice, agreed in conjunction with your dissertation supervisor. Dissertation planning and supervision takes place in Semester 2 and you continue with your independent writing over the summer.

Special features

Work Placement (Semesters 1 and 2)

One of the most popular aspects of the AGMS is the work placement that you undertake in a museum or gallery. Each placement involves a minimum of 20 days work on a specific project, such as exhibition developmoent, collections management, or education programme. Many students find this such a positive experience that they carry on working in their museum when the work placement has finished, and each year a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts. Work placements can be carried out during semester 1 and/or 2, but must be completed by June. You can take the work placement either as a non-credit bearing course OR as an enhanced 30-credit option course. Students who do the former also take two option courses in Semester 2. Students, who do the latter, take one more option course in Semester 2. See a list of last year's work placements

Coursework and assessment

Most teaching takes place in small seminar groups, involving, as appropriate, directed-reading, fieldwork in museums and galleries, staff and student presentations, discussion and group-work. Students undertake also a group exhibition project (as part of the `Museum Objects and Exhibitions course'). See past exhibition projects

Assessment

`The Museum and its Contexts' (Semester 1 core course): The course is assessed by a 6,000 word essay.

`Museums Objects and Exhibitions' (Semester 1 core course): The course is assessed by a 2,000 word essay (40% of the course mark) and a 4,000 word Fieldwork Portfolio (60% of the course mark). The Portfolio is a critical `reading' of an object, a collection, a display or an exhibition you have visited.

Option Courses (Semester 2): Option courses are assessed by a 5,000 word essay (80% of the course mark) and Group Project Portfolio (20% of the course mark).

Dissertation (Semester 2 and Summer): You can either undertake a standard dissertation or a practice-based dissertation:

  1. Standard: 12-15,000 words.
  2. Practice-based A: Exhibition. An exhibition, show or plan thereof. Outcome - exhibition and/or plan plus 8-10,000 words reflection.
  3. Practice-based B: Policy. Student to develop a piece of museum policy. Outcome - policy or report plus max 8-10,000 words reflection.
  4. Practice-based C: Digital/Online (building on skills developed in Digital Curating). Outcome - digital media application plus max 8-10,000 words reflection.

Resources, Facilities and training

The programme is shaped by the rich and diverse ecology of museums in the city and the North West, which makes Manchester such an attractive place for museum studies. We work in partnership with museums and galleries in Greater Manchester and beyond. In particular, we work closely with the pre-eminent museums of the University of Manchester: the  Manchester Museum and the  Whitworth Art Gallery. AGMS teachings is also supported by the rich resources of the John Rylands University Library.

AGMS students take advantage of a varied programme of activities and events at the Centre for Museology and School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, including:

  • Museology research seminars
  • `Showcase' seminars at the Manchester Museum
  • Institute for Cultural Practices events
  • Research forum for PhD students

Course unit details

Work Placement (Semesters 1 and 2)

One of the most popular aspects of the AGMS is the work placement that you undertake in a museum or gallery. Each placement involves a minimum of 20 days work on a specific project, such as exhibition developmoent, collections management, or education programme. Many students find this such a positive experience that they carry on working in their museum when the work placement has finished, and each year a few students are offered jobs by their placement hosts. Work placements can be carried out during semester 1 and/or 2, but must be completed by June. You can take the work placement either as a non-credit bearing course OR as an enhanced 30-credit option course. Students who do the former also take two option courses in Semester 2. Students, who do the latter, take one more option course in Semester 2. See a list of last year's work placements

Scholarships and bursaries

Please see the school website

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: disability@manchester.ac.uk