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Support for teaching

The Oriental Museum was created to support teaching and research at Durham University.

On this page you will find information on the ways in which we support academic teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Durham University, and beyond. Follow the links in the text for more information on individual courses or to contact staff who can help to facilitate your teaching.

If you are looking for information on our schools teaching programmes, take a look at our 4schools website.


Durham University Museums support teaching at undergraduate and graduate level for a range of courses across Durham University and for other universities in the region. We currently have one classroom on site at the Oriental Museum that will hold up to 30 students. To meet the rising demand for teaching the museum is in the process of creating a second teaching space.

Undergraduate teaching

There is no substitute for the experience of handling a 3,000 year old Ancient Egyptian scarab or a Ming Dynasty Chinese vase. In recent years museum staff have organised sessions for courses ranging from Archaeology to History of Art and the Politics of Pacific Asia. These sessions involve around 400 undergraduates annually.

As handling sessions are most effective in small groups large classes are subdivided. Museum staff work with the academic running a course to select appropriate objects from museum displays and the stored collections so that students are given the opportunity to see, and handle, objects not normally on view to the public.

Museum staff also provide guided tours of the museum galleries for groups of undergraduates from a number of departments including Anthropology and Education.

Postgraduate teaching

At postgraduate level museum staff provide object handling training for students undertaking a number of courses.

Staff are heavily involved in teaching for the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies providing training in museum skills such as object handling, moving and packing, documentation and marketing and publicity for exhibitions. Students on this course have the option to choose the Museum Communication module which involves the creation of an entire museum exhibition for either the Oriental Museum or Palace Green Library. Museum staff provide full support for this project ranging from assistance with research to object selection, photography and creation of graphics and publicity materials.

Object loans

Every year the museums lends around 60 objects from our collections to the Department of Archaeology for the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies and 20-30 objects for the use of students studying for the MA in the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum objects. These objects are used by students as the subject of practical and research projects over the course of the academic year.

Any member of Durham University staff interested in incorporating a tour, handling session or other training into their course should contact museum curator Craig Barclay as early as possible in the planning for the course so that we can avoid timetable clashes with other departments.

Find out more about how Heritage Collections supports Durham University academics in our guide for academic staff.

Discover our collections

Search Durham collections using our online database. Explore items from the Oriental Museum that aren't on display.

Find out more