MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Creative Learning: Approaches and Contexts

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60052
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit explores learning in the context of cultural organisations and practices. In particular it examines the theory and practice of learning in arts organisations, museums and other heritage sites working with single or multiple art forms or other creative approaches. It looks at the influence of educational theory and government policy on the development and delivery of arts and museum education programmes. Taking a practical approach to the concerns of professionals involved in learning, interpretation, engagement and outreach in the cultural sector it also explores key considerations and strategies for arts/heritage organisations working with educational institutions and within informal learning contexts. These concerns will include issues arising from school curricula, evaluation and assessment, discourses around inclusion and access, innovations in active learning and participation, and ethical issues. 


  • Examine a range of current practices of learning and interpretation in museums, the arts and heritage;
  • Engage with recent policy debates relating to the role of the arts and heritage in education;
  • Introduce and critically evaluate key theories of learning and education which have been particularly influential within recent cultural practice and policy;
  • Offer an insight into methodological, ethical and legal considerations faced by professionals working in different roles on the development, delivery and facilitation of education work in different arts, heritage and educational contexts;
  • Critically engage with debates around access, engagement, inclusion and participation in the context of education work. 


Week 1: Introduction & Histories Seminar 1

Week 2: 'Planning Learning' Workshop 1 (incl. project set up and briefing)

Week 3: Theories of Education Seminar 2

Week 4: Theories of Education Seminar 3

Week 5: 'Planning Learning' Workshop 2

Week 6:  Fieldtrip/site visit

Week 7: 'Learning Spaces' Seminar 4

Week 8: 'Testing Ideas' Workshop 3

Week 9: 'Evaluating Learning' Seminar 5

Week 10: 'Evaluation' Workshop 4 (incl. proposal surgeries)

Week 11: 'Testing Ideas' Workshop 5 (incl. proposal surgeries)

Week 12: Concluding discussion Seminar 6 

Teaching and learning methods

Theoretical, introductory and background sections of the unit will take place in 6 x 2 hour seminars (weeks 1, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 12). Practical and experimental sections will be held in 5 x 3 hour workshops (weeks 2, 5, 7, 10 and 11), which will include input from the tutor, from staff at the Whitworth Gallery and Manchester Museum, from other invited guest professionals and from peers. At least one of these workshops will be run by students and used as a testing ground for emergent ideas. Students will be expected to progress their proposal week by week and identify their own particular developmental needs in discussion with the tutor. There will be at least one fieldtrip to an arts or heritage learning site other than the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth art gallery which will be visited in the course of the workshop sessions.



The course will have a Blackboard site with all elements of the minimum specification including:

1. Aims, Objectives, Mode of Assessment and Credit Rating of the Blackboard module

2. Course Materials

3. Recommended Reading/Directed Reading lists

4. Guidance on presentation and essay

5. FAQs

6. Schedule of activities 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate understanding of a range of theories of education and learning and their application within arts and heritage contexts;
  • Show a knowledge of current education methodologies used by practitioners in arts and heritage;
  • Demonstrate understanding of key policy debates relating to arts and heritage education;

Intellectual skills

  • Critically assess learning strategies and methodologies through document analysis and observation;
  • Apply theoretical understanding to project development processes;
  • Engage constructively but critically with the demands of different institutional stakeholders;

Practical skills

  • Develop a creative, well-researched and feasible project proposal;
  • Collaborate effectively with peers and professional colleagues to develop ideas for education work;
  • Use appropriate technology to support the communication of project ideas;

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Give constructive critical feedback to peers and professional colleagues;
  • Undertake self-directed research to inform practical work;
  • Apply skills and ideas learned in one institutional context to another, while remaining aware of the complexity of the issues;
  • Work effectively in a multi-disciplinary team;
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively in a professional, as well as an academic, environment;
  • Critically evaluate personal performance through monitoring and analytical reflection;
  • Demonstrate independent learning ability suitable for continuing study and professional development.

Employability skills

- Gain professional insight into curating and related roles - Articulate clearly key debates related to creative learning - Presentation skills - Manage time efficiently - Generate ideas and think laterally - Map career directions and trajectories

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeLengthWeighting within unit (if relevant)
Critical analysis of education strategy or methodologySummative3000 words50%
Creative Learning project proposalSummative1500 words50%


Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Critical Review proposalFormative
Project ProposalFormative
Academic advisor meetingFormative


Recommended reading

Abbs, P. (2003). Against the Flow: Education, the arts and postmodern culture. London: Routledge Falmer.

Addison, N., and Burgess, L. (Eds.) (2003). Issues in Art and Design Teaching. London: Routledge Falmer.

Appleton, J. (ed). (2001). Museums for 'The People?'. London: Institute of Ideas.

Arts Council England. (1992). Drama in Schools. London: Arts Council England. Second edition published in 2003.

Banaji, S., Burn, A and Buckingham, D. (2006). The Rhetorics of Creativity: A Review of the Literature. London: Creative Partnerships, Arts Council England.

Benton, M. (2000). 'Canons Ancient and Modern: the texts we teach'. Educational Review, 52(3), 269-277.

Best, D. (1992). The Rationality of Feeling: Understanding the Arts in Education. London: Falmer Press.

Blackstone, T. (2002) 'A Creative and Cultural Education for the 21st Century'. Education Review Vol 15 (2), pp. 2-9.

Bolton, G. (1984). Drama as Education: An Argument for Placing Drama at the Centre of the Curriculum. London: Longman.

Bresler, L. (Ed.) (2007). International Handbook of Research in Arts Education. Dordrecht: The Netherlands: Springer.

Brinson, P. (1991). Dance as Education: Towards a National Dance Culture. London: Falmer Press.

Caldwell Cook, H. (1917). The Play Way. London: Heinemann.

Central Advisory Council for Education. (1963). Half our future: The Newsom Report. London: HMSO

Chadwick, A and A Stannett (eds). (1995). Museums and the Education of Adults. National Institute of Adult Continuing Education: Leicester.

Chalmers, F. G. (2004). 'Learning From Histories of Art Education: An Overview of Research and Issues' pp. 11-32 in Eisner, E. & Day, M. (Eds.) (2004).

Comerford Boyes, L. & Reid, I. (2005). 'What are the benefits for pupils participating in arts activities?' The view from the research literature'. Research in Education - Manchester, Vol 73 (1), 1-14.

Cox, G. (2007). 'The Teaching and Learning of Music in the Settings of Family, Church and School: Some Historical Perspectives' pp. 67-80 in Bresler, L, (Ed.) (2007).

Craft, A., Jeffrey, B. and Leibling, M. (Eds.) (2001). Creativity in Education. London: Continuum.

Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2004) Sixth Report of Select Committee: Arts Development: Dance (HC 587)

Department for Education and Skills (2003) Excellence and Enjoyment: A Strategy for Primary Schools. London: DfES.

Dewey, J. (1934). Art as Experience. New York: Penguin. 2005 edition.

Downing, D., Johnson, F., & Kaur, S. (2003). Saving a Place For the Arts? A Survey of the Arts in Primary Schools in England. Slough: NFER.

Finlay-Johnson, H. (1911). The Dramatic Method of Teaching. London: Blackie.

Fleming, M. (2006) 'Justifying the Arts: Drama and Intercultural Education'. Journal of Aesthetic Education Vol. 40(1), 54-64.

Fleming, M. (2007) The Literary Canon: Implications for The Teaching of Language as Subject. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Fleming, M. (2008). Arts in Education and Creativity: A Review of the Literature. London: Creative Partnerships.

Gallagher, Kathleen. (2000) Drama Education in the Lives of Girls. Toronto: University of Toronto.

Gallagher, Kathleen. (2006) '(Post)Critical Ethnography in Drama Research'. Research Methodologies for Drama Education. Ed. Judith Ackroyd. Stoke: Trentham.

Gardner, H. (1982). Art, Mind and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity. New York: Basic Books.

Gillard, D. (2004) 'The Plowden Report', the encyclopaedia of informal education,

Green, L. (2002) How Popular Musicians Learn: A Way Ahead for Music Education. London:

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 36
Independent study hours
Independent study 264

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Catherine Roberts Unit coordinator

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