MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Digital Heritage

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC60902
Credit rating 15
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


The course is designed to equip students with a range of critical, theoretical and practical approaches to museum and gallery curating. It examines the different understandings and approaches in curating various types of collections, identifying the knowledge and skills that a contemporary curator must have. In particular, the course will offer both a broad and specific exploration of museum and gallery curatorship: Introductory and concluding seminars, fieldtrips and sessions by visiting speakers will cater for the more general, common and overarching aspects of curatorial work. These will be combined by 4 or 5 discipline-and-collection-specific seminars that will form distinct routes through the course, catering for the particular interests of our diverse student group. Those specialist seminars explore the aims, needs and challenges of curating archaeological, ethnographic, art, science or natural history collections using various tools and media, including digital media. Students will combine one of those specific routes within the course with the shared, general sessions, thereby acquiring both a critical overview of the practical and theoretical dimensions of curating with a specific understanding of a particular field.

The course will enable students to gain both an understanding of the role, work and skills of a curator in museums and galleries, within a range of historical, institutional and professional contexts. It will also respond to the professional aspirations and career plans of our students.


- Develop a critical understanding of the theory and practice of curating in museums and galleries.
- Examine the institutional and professional contexts within which curators work
- Provide a focused examination of the aims, skills, needs, challenges and media related to curating particular types of collections (archaeological, ethnographic, art, Science or digital)
- Provide a broad basis of generic theoretical and practical skills for museum professionals

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

-Have a critical understanding of the theory and practice of curating in museums and galleries
- Understand the practice of curating in its historical contexts and its 'professionalisation' as a historical process
- Identify the institutional and professional contexts within which curators work
- Demonstrate a specific understanding of the aims, skills, needs, challenges and media related to curating a particular type of collections (archaeological, ethnographic, art, Science or digital)

Intellectual skills

-Undertake self-directed learning and skills acquisition
- Conduct independent, critical fieldwork
- Develop appropriate methodological and analytical skills
- Apply skills and ideas learned in one institutional context to another, while remaining aware of the complexity of the issues

Practical skills

-Initiate practical and creative solutions to specific criteria.
- Communicate complex research findings through clear written and verbal articulation, supported by appropriate technological tools

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Retrieve, select and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources, including libraries, archives, and the internet
-Orchestrate group work in disciplinary and multi-disciplinary contexts, and work constructively within a 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.


The course offers three specialist routes:

Curating Art
Curating Ethnography and Archaeology
Digital Heritage

Not all specialist routes will be offered every year; this will depend on staff availability.

Indicative Schedule

Art Curating

Week 1: Producing Art History/ies in the Museum Week 2: Exhibitions: Histories & Typologies; The Blockbuster Debate Week 3: Artists/Curators: Institutional Critique and Collaboration; Week 4: Relational Aesthetics and Socially Engaged Art Week 5: How to Buy a Work of Art Week 6: Curating Art: Issues and Reflections

Digital Curating

Week 1: Theorising Digital Heritage
Week 2: Curating Museums on the Web
Week 3: Museums and Social Media
Week 4: Museums and the Mobile Web
Week 5: Digitally Enhanced Galleries: Interactivity and Interactives Week 6: Museums and Open/Big Data

Curating Ethnography and Archaeology

Week 1: Anthropology and the Museum
Week 2: Archaeology and the Museum
Week 3: Art/artefact
Week 4: Debating Restitution
Week 5: Tour of Manchester Museum stores Week 6: Conservation workshop

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Project output (not diss/n) 30%

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Konstantinos Arvanitis Unit coordinator

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