Develop your career and learn from key academics and practitioners in the museum and heritage sectors.
This well-established programme at Ulster University is delivered through the School of Arts and Humanities and is taught on the Belfast campus.
It has many links with the museum and heritage profession in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and students have the advantage of meeting with practitioners through lectures and visits. Graduates have been successful in securing positions in the museum and heritage sectors in the UK, Ireland and internationally - we frequently invite past students as guest speakers, sharing their knowledge and expertise of career development.
The degree programme has been designed for individuals seeking further career development in the heritage and museum sectors, as well for graduates of Art and Design, Art History, Geography, History, Archaeology, Sociology and allied disciplines, who wish to develop their research interests in these fields. There is a track record of graduates achieving funding for further research.
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About this course
In this section
Key areas of investigation in this MA include:
- Policy concerns relating to heritage, museum and cultural sectors in UK and Ireland;
- Analysis of the social, economic and cultural contexts of museums and heritage;
- Exploration of issues in relation to collections care; exhibitions; learning and management in the heritage sectors; and,
- Consideration of national issues in the international context.
Modules have been designed to reflect innovative and current research in these areas and will equip both graduates and those already working in the heritage sectors with the appropriate skills for further academic and professional development.
This course is taught on the Belfast campus. The part time programme is a 3 year course. Students take 60 credits per year. The first two years of the programme is the taught course. Full-time students attend lectures and seminars two days a week (typically Tuesday and Thursday) and Part-time students one day a week (typically a Thursday in the first year and a Tuesday in the second year).
First Year Modules
- Exploring Heritage
- Cultures of Curatorship
Second Year Modules
- Exhibitions: Practice and Evaluation
- Strategic Management
- Research Methods for the Heritage and Museum Sectors
In the final year students undertake a research project, guided by a supervisor. This dissertation is completed at the end of Semester 2.
- September 2019
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
This module allows students to engage with key questions and issues relating to "heritage". Students will explore the professional and personal dimensions of discourses and practices of heritage. Students are asked to consider the ways in which people talk about, think about, and represent notions of "heritage" in a variety of local, regional, national, and international contexts.
Cultures of Curatorship
This module considers the political and social basis of museum activity and encourages critical examination of the work and procedures of museums. Though primarily concerned with museum development in Ireland, emphasis will be placed on locating the key issues in an international context. The module will be assessed through a written assignment and oral presentation.
Exhibitions: Practice and Evaluation
This module is concerned with the exhibition process in museums. It explores the way museums communicate through exhibitions and how this is enhanced through use of space, objects and language.
Research Methods in Heritage and Museum Studies
This module emphasises the importance and role of research within the heritage and museum sector, explores the research agendas underpinning heritage and museum studies, and leads students in the development of research projects in the field.
Strategic Planning for Heritage and Museum Management
Organisations that continuously critically appraise their present performance and develop strategies to plan for the future are more successful in the long term than those that do not. This module equips students with the knowledge and skills to evaluate the importance of strategic planning within heritage and museum organisations and enables them to develop a strategic plan for their organisation.
MA Research Project
This module gives students the opportunity to conduct supervised research in an area of museum studies, chosen in consultation with their tutors.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
You should preferably hold a good honours degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant discipline. Typically applicants have a degree either in archaeology, history, geography, art or art history, social sciences or education.
Exceptionally, candidates who do not satisfy these requrements may, by virtue of relevant experience or learning, be admitted.
The deadline for submission of applications is 15th May. We will consider late applications but these may experience delays in processing.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
Those applicants seeking entry with advanced standing, (eg. transfer from another institution) will be considered on an individual basis.
Careers & opportunities
In this section
This programme was introduced in 2001 and since that time our graduates have pursued careers in museums, exhibition design, archives, the cultural sector and further education. Alumni from the programme now form a vibrant community and are having a positive impact on the sector. Past students are invited back to share their experiences with.
The areas graduates have gone on to include:
- Museums, Archive and Galleries, entry level posts such as collections management and curatorship, learning and public engagement;
- Specialist museum-related training e.g. in conservation of museum objects
- museum based internships
- The heritage sector (such as National Trust) and the arts
- PhD research
- Graduates also pursue other interests such as travelling.
For information on postgraduate research opportunities see: www.arts.ulster.ac.uk/rgs
Work placement / study abroad
We will support you in finding a work placement, which you complete alongside your studies. In the past students have had placements at National Museums Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Museums Council, local museums, Linen Hall Library, PRONI and the National Trust. There is also the opportunity to use your volunteering to inform assignments and as a basis of your dissertation research.
Fees and funding
In this section
Fees (total cost)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- £14,060.00 Scholarships available
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Part time students have a chance to apply for Curators Team Interships at Historic Royal Palces. The internship will be based at Hillsborough Castle. For more information please contact:
Course Director: Professor Elizabeth Crooke
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Professor Elizabeth Crooke
For Admissions queries please contact the Admissions Service:
For more information visit
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Jenny Haslett, Education Officer, Northern Ireland War Memorial, Belfast
I applied for the Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies MA at Ulster University after completing an undergraduate degree in Fine and Applied Art and having gained experience in museums. While visiting museums for my BA degree I became interested historical textiles and the handling and interpretation of objects. After graduation from the BA I began voluntary work with the National Trust on a textile conservation project. Shortly after this I began to work casually with museums, community groups and schools as a textile and craft tutor. These experiences emphasized to me that I wanted to work in a museum. I was delighted to get a place on the MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies. The full-time course consisted of two days of lectures a week, allowing me to continue to work casually in museums, while taking on some extra voluntary work. The work load was demanding but ultimately rewarding as I found my voluntary placements helped me to make sense of the learning theories and museum issues I studied in class. The course was well-structured and constantly interested me as I decided which area of museums I wanted to work in. The modules covered an array of topical issues encouraging lively debate and allowing us to explore our own interests in most modules. This allowed me to complete my dissertation in a subject I was truly passionate about. Immediately after graduation, I secured the position of part-time Education Officer in Northern Ireland War Memorial I am still working there and am now curator-manager.