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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

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

Department: Archaeology

ARCH54530: Museum Principles and Practice

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

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • Familiarisation with principles of museological theory and practice.

Content

  • This module is intended to provide students with a sound understanding of the key contemporary principles, practice and debates relating to professional museum work - especially collection management and museum management. It encourages students to develop a critical perspective and to use it in the assessment of museums. It also helps students to develop relevant professional skills, through seminars, workshops and a 20-day Easter placement, undertaken at a local or national museum.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Developments, current issues and debates in professional principles, policies and good practice relating to the management of collections and museums, particularly in the UK but also abroad.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a museum or related institution, based upon a combination of personal experience and the application of subject-specific knowledge, with particular reference to policies and debates relating to present and future collections management and museum management in that institution.
Key Skills:
  • Use computer and information technology.
  • Access library, museum, archive and World Wide Web resources.
  • Undertake advanced independent study, research and problem solving.
  • Participate responsibly in, and critically reflect upon, work in a defined role as a member of a team, both independently and alongside colleagues.
  • Communicate information and arguments effectively, in written, visual and computerised form, to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Take responsibility for personal, professional and ethical development within the museum and cultural heritage sector or within academia, responding actively to critical feedback.
  • Assess relevant insurance and health and safety risks in the work-place, and comply with appropriate procedures.
  • Cope with contingencies and make decisions in complex and unpredictable contexts.
  • Manage time effectively, working to timetables and meeting deadlines.

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

  • TEACHING & LEARNING METHODS
  • Lectures, comprising concise, accessible and interesting oral, visual and virtual presentations of key information, by tutors to the full programme cohort of students, supported by the extensive programme bibliography and summaries posted on the Durham University Online (DUO) intranet. Lectures enable learners to gain a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge.
  • Seminars, comprising structured oral and visual presentations and discussions of well-defined topics, by individual or groups of students to the rest of the full programme cohort and facilitated by tutors, supported by the programme bibliography and summaries posted on DUO. Seminars enable learners to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of a wide range of subject-specific knowledge, to enhance subject-specific skills in working with museum- and artefact-related research information, and to enhance key skills in the use of computer and information technology, accessing information resources, undertaking advanced independent study, participating responsibly in team work, communicating effectively, and managing time effectively.
  • Practical class, involving demonstration and hands-on exercise, using materials, techniques and facilities relevant to museum work, undertaken in smaller sized student groups, with personal tuition from professionally trained and experienced tutors, and supported by resources posted on DUO where appropriate. Practical classes enable learners to gain direct experience and competence in a wide range of subject-specific skills pertaining to museum and artefact-based work, and in key skills involving computer and information technology.
  • Museum placement experience, comprising workplace experience in the professional working environment of a museum or related cultural heritage institution, with a degree of personal guidance and tuition from a knowledgeable member of staff employed by that institution. Museum placement experience enables learners to develop their knowledge and critical understanding of museums, including their development, context, nature, purposes, principles, policies, practices, discipline-specific issues, environmental factors, collections care, and approaches to communication, to gain direct experience and competence in subject-specific skills pertaining to the management of collections and of museums, and in the full range of key skills.
  • If a Museum placement is not possible then a Professional Practice Research Project would be undertaken. This would use available data to evaluate the professional practices of museums and heritage organisations. This experience would also enable learners to develop their knowledge and critical understanding of museums, including their development, context, nature, purposes, principles, policies, practices, discipline-specific issues, environmental factors, collections care and approaches to communication.
  • Self-guided learning, comprising personal and group-based study, research, revision, problem-solving and evaluation associated with classes and assignments. Self-guided learning enables students to increase their knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge, and to gain experience and competence in the full range of subject-specific skills and key skills.
  • ASSESSMENT METHODS
  • 1 essay comprising 2500 word critical evaluation of issues and themes related to collections management and museum management. The essay ensures demonstration of the achievement of a sound knowledge and critical understanding of a range of subject-specific knowledge relating to museums.
  • 1 Portfolio or report, comprising 2500 word knowledgeable and critical written evaluations of museum placement experience as a portfolio, which may be supported by clearly presented appendices of relevant data or a 2500 word knowledgeable and critical written evaluation of museum or heritage organisation professional practice as a report with comparable appendices. The portfolio ensures demonstration of the achievement of a sound knowledge and critical understanding of subject-specific knowledge relating to collections management and museum management in a specific type of museum and to museum communication, the achievement of direct experience and competence in subject-specific skills involving working with museum- and artefact-related research information, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a museum or related institution, and museum communication, and the achievement of direct experience and competence in the full range of key skills. Formative assessment, accompanied by written feedback from tutors, is regarded as an integral part of the learning process. It helps learners to consolidate knowledge and understanding and to explore and develop subject-specific and key skills. A range of formative assignments therefore precede a selection of summative assignments on all modules within the programme. These relate to specific learning outcomes, as well as a few additional learning outcomes not assessed summatively. If a museum placement is not possible then a Professional Practice Research Report would be undertaken. This would identify an issue which is of current concern to the museum sector and potentially of interest to the student’s future career. The student would explore this in terms of its significance for museum critical thought and principles and for professional practice by examining the issue in depth, looking at relevant literature, capturing data as appropriate and exploring it the issue in depth, usually through a number of case studies. As appropriate, such a report may end with a series of recommendations for the sector.
  • The formative assignments include:
  • 2 Seminar Presentations, of between 10 and 20 minutes, help to consolidate knowledge and understanding of topics relating to museum studies, the management of collections and museums, artefact studies and museum communication, help to develop the subject-specific skill of working with research data, and help to develop a range of key skills, as well as helping to develop oral communication skills. Written feedback on seminar presentations deals with the following areas: choice of topic, including appropriateness of title; knowledge of the subject, including definition of its scope and key issues; clarity of explanations of key terms and concepts; clarity of structure; use of examples; use and clarity of appropriate visual materials; facilitation of discussion, including response to questions; presentation, including pace and tone of delivery, vocal clarity and projection; audience attention, including eye contact and audience response; and anxiety behaviour.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Weekly 1-2 hours 19
Tutorial 1 Once 1 hour 1
Seminars 15 Weekly 1 hour 15
Practicals 2 Once 2 hours 4
Placement 1 Once 20 days
Preparation & Reading 261
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,500 words 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2,500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two 10-20 minute seminar 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