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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Archaeology

ARCH42730: Debating Heritage and Museums

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims, broadly, to provide a challenging intellectual underpinning for both the MA in International Cultural Heritage Management and the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies, as well as masters students registered on other relevant programmes.
  • It has four specific aims:
  • 1. To help students identify and discuss, under the umbrella of cultural heritage (encompassing heritage sites, museums, and urban and rural landscapes), the complementarities and differences between heritage studies and museum studies;
  • 2. To provide a shared conceptual framework within which students can develop their knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, principles, theories and debates relating to heritage and museums, with reference to a diversity of case-studies from around the world;
  • 3. To equip students with the relevant methodological skills to gather, analyse and critically evaluate data and concepts used in the discourse of cultural heritage;
  • 4. To enable students to develop generic study and research skills appropriate to heritage and museum studies, including working as reflective practitioners, which will inform their practice throughout their Masters programmes and successive academic and/or professional working lives.


  • Definitions of 'heritage' and 'museums'
  • Histories of heritage and museum thinking, institutions and practices
  • Research questions, data and methods in heritage and museum studies
  • Social, economic and cultural contexts of heritage and museums
  • Valuing and managing heritage
  • The politics of heritage
  • Public engagement with heritage and museums
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Digital heritage
  • Heritage and museums in urban and rural contexts

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key approaches, concepts, debates and similarities/differences in heritage and museum studies
  • Advanced and critical understanding of knowledge of the wider contexts (historical, cultural, social, political, economic, geographical, digital) of cultural heritage and museums
  • Advanced knowledge and critical understanding of a diverse selection of relevant research-led examples and case-studies in heritage and museum theory and practice from around the world
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop subject-specific skills, by gathering, analysing, interpreting critically, drawing justifiable conclusions from, presenting and acknowledging advanced research information related to cultural heritage and museums
Key Skills:
  • Develop critical thinking skills, by questioning, reflecting on, defining and a debating key issues and concepts
  • Develop intellectual and professional autonomy, by: undertaking advanced independent study, research and problem solving; taking responsibility for personal, professional and ethical development within academia and/or the cultural heritage and museum sector; and responding actively to feedback.
  • Develop teamwork skills, by collaboratively planning, researching, synthesizing and presenting information and arguments.
  • Develop information technology skills, by using appropriate digital resources and software (e.g. online library catalogues, word and image processing and presentation software) to support written and oral presentations.
  • Develop communication skills, by expressing information and arguments clearly and concisely, in written, visual and digital form, to broad audiences.
  • Develop time management skills, by working to timetables and meeting deadlines.
  • Develop reflexive practitioner skills, by reflecting on and documenting research, learning and professional practices

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module uses a combination of lectures, webinars, tutorials, a fieldtrip and a range of independent study materials to enable you to develop a sound conceptual and empirical base for further study and practice. Material may be delivered online or in person, synchronously or asynchronously, as appropriate
  • Lectures by module tutors that enable the full cohort of students to gain a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge
  • Webinars by specialist researchers and heritage professionals that enable learners to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of a selected range of subject-specific knowledge
  • Workshops facilitated by module tutors that enable learners to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of a selected range of subject-specific knowledge, to enhance subject-specific skills in working with heritage- and museum-related research information, and to enhance key skills in the use of digital technology, undertaking advanced independent study, participating responsibly in team work, communicating effectively, and managing time effectively
  • Bibliographies compiled by module tutors that enable learners to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge
  • Posts on the discussion board uploaded by students and tutors that enable learners to evaluate and refine their knowledge and critical understanding of subject-specific knowledge
  • Reflexive practitioner blog uploaded by students that enables learners to reflect upon their knowledge and critical understanding of subject-specific knowledge and skills and generic skills.
  • Tutorials with module tutors during weekly office hours
  • Self-guided learning (independent study).
  • Fieldtrip to an historic city in Northern England.
  • Summative assessment takes the form of 2 essays. The two essays comprise:
  • 1. Essay 1 (Term 1) comprising a 1500-word written definition and critical discussion of a key given concept in heritage and museum studies (40% element weighing)
  • 2. Essay 2 (Term 2) comprising a 3500-word discussion of given topics in either heritage studies (for MA International Cultural Heritage Management students) or museum studies (for MA Museum and Artefact Studies students) (60% element weighting).
  • Formative assessment. The formative assignments include:
  • 1. An essay plan and annotated bibliography of up to 1500 words, relating to the Term 1 summative essay; supported by individualised written feedback.
  • 2. Class presentations, produced collaboratively and individually, on topics relating to a weekly lecture theme.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 Weekly 2 hours 44
Workshops/webinars 21 Weekly 2 hours 42
Fieldtrip 1 - 8 hours 8
Self-guided learning (preparation and reading) 206
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 1500 words 40% Yes
Essay 2 3500 words 60% Yes

Formative Assessment:

An essay plan and annotated bibliography, of up to 1500 words, relating to the Term 1 summative essay. 2 class presentations.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University