Postgraduate Diploma/Master of Arts
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Arts and Humanities
This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.
Preparing you to work or to advance your career in the museum and heritage sectors.
This established programme shares best practice and expertise in various aspects of museum studies, cultural management, exhibition practice and care of collections. The modules draw upon the expectations of the museum standards programmes in UK and Ireland and present these within an international context. Lectures include points of discussion on key issues concerning the museum profession globally. Tutors are either lecturers in Ulster University or senior staff in the museum sector.
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In developing the Museum Practice and Management programme we worked closely with the Heritage Council, and the course was designed to reflect the Museum Standards Programme Ireland.
There are four modules in the taught part of the programme:
Museums and Culture: Policies and Values
This module considers the meaning, purposes and impact of museums. It looks at the value of objects, histories of museums as well as issues in relation to governance, museum ethics, social policies and display. It draws on key debates in the museum sector both nationally and internationally and encourages students to reflect upon the potential of museums.
Management and Strategy for the Museum
Issues of management, marketing, finance and strategic planning are core to this module. Module content explores key thinking and principles in these areas and applies them to the museum sector.
Communication and Learning in Museums
The focus of this module is museum communication through exhibition development and learning policies. Units relating to exhibitions focus on the importance of display, writing museum text and evaluation. Lectures also reflect upon contemporary learning theories, how these might be applied in museums, and writing an education policy for a museum. Consideration is also given to engaging lifelong learners and employing new media in museums.
Collections Care and Management
Collections are the basis on which most museum work is developed. This module considers how to make collection management a strategic part of a museum service. It considers the development of standards and accreditation, issues relating to acquisition and disposal of collections as well as documentation. Lectures relating to the care of collections consider preventive conservation; care of collections; storage; object handling; movement of collections; disaster planning; and the broader context of collections care.
This is an entirely online programme, with no requirement to attend the Ulster University. However, there is an annual calendar of museum events in Ireland which many students attend and the tutors use as an opportunity to informally meet with students.
When enrolled you are provided, week by week over a period of 12 weeks, online access to lectures, readings, and discussion topics. Lectures and all required reading can be downloaded via the module area. Each lecture contains discussion topics to encourage dialogue between you, fellow students, and your module tutor. Each module has approximately two assignments. The first assignment is submitted during the module, with feedback within three weeks, and the final assignment is due a fortnight after the module is completed. On successful completion of 4 modules (a total of 120 credits), you may exit with Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Practice of Management. You also have the option to continue to the research module (60 credits) and exit with Master’s Museum Practice and Management.
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:
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.
All lecturers on this programme contribute to the fields of museum and heritage studies or the arts, publishing in such journals as the International Journal of Heritage Studies and the book Companion to Museum Studies. We regularly invite people senior in the museum, heritage or arts sectors to contribute to our programme. Lecturers work closely with the sectors, for instance, the Course Director is currently Chairperson of Northern Ireland Museums Council.
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.
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The module provides an overview of policies and values related to museums and the heritage sector which are essential in understanding the complex forces at work which influence how museums operate and how policies and values are shaped and evolve.
Effective management and the ability to think strategically are crucial to an organisation's ability to achieve its objectives effectively. This module integrates the theories and methodologies of other modules within the wider context of organisational management.
The module provides an overview of current thinking in museums on their role as educators and facilitators of learning and communication. It focuses on exhibitions as tools for social, cultural, educational and political influence, and develops an understanding of exhibitions and other elements within museums as forces for learning and communication and evolving learning policies and priorities.
The module has an overview of current practices in museums on collections care and management. It focuses on planning for collection management, museum registration and accreditation and questions surrounding the meaning of objects and acquisition and disposal. The practical elements of collections care and management are further investigated with regards to collections information, access, security and insurance, preventative conservation, and the monitoring and controlling of the museum environment.
This module gives students the opportuinity to conduct supervised research in an area of museum studies, chosen and undertaken 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.
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Postgraduate Diploma: You should normally hold a degree in a relevant discipline.
MA: You should preferably hold a good honours degree in a relevant discipline.
Exceptionally, candidates who do not satisfy these requirements may, by virtue of relevant experience or learning, be admitted. Students who satisfactorily complete the Postgraduate Diploma at the required level will automatically be considered for progress to the MA. An interview may form part of the application process.
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.
You may choose to complete one module as a stand-alone course (30credits), two modules for a PG Cert (60 credits) and four modules for a Post Graduate Diploma (120 credits). All modules are Master’s level (Level 7).
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The majority of the students on this programme are working the museum or related sectors. Often these students want to learn more about museum practice and theory. Others are keen to enter the sector and the programme provides invaluable learning. Such students gain a lot from discussion with their peers and tutors. In addition, the Course Director can advise you on finding a work placement in a museum.
On request, we work with students and local museums or heritage properties to arrange work placements.
Dr Marsia Bealby, completed 2018
After having volunteered on heritage sites for several years, I decided to take my interest in museums further and enrol into a Masters Degree in Museum Practice and Management at Ulster University (Part Time, via e-learning). This proved to be an excellent choice. This programme allowed me to build my CV and opened new career opportunities for me.
Learning was tailored around my own tight schedule and research interests, complementing my volunteering at the heritage sector. Even though this program was not my first experience in online education, e-learning has always been my preferred way of study, as it offers flexibility and the advantage of studying from home, or anywhere with an internet connection. The Masters in Museum Practice and Management at Ulster University consisted of four modules and a Dissertation. As such, during the course of my studies I advanced my knowledge in museum audiences and programming, how museums and heritage sites are managed and run, and how exhibitions are planned.
E-learning has a social aspect, albeit in the digital world. I never felt isolated throughout these three years of my studies, as my co-students were very active on the course, and instructors were always an email away, ready to support me and advise me. Communication with instructors was always prompt and encouraging, and the course material was well structured and easy to follow and comprehend. In addition to the high quality reading material, I also enjoyed the interactive activities, links to external sources and informative videos.
The part of the programme I enjoyed the most was my dissertation. I chose to investigate the meaning of sports cars as Museum objects from a gender perspective; a topic that fascinates me. Even though I believe that the topic I selected to work with was challenging, I had the full support of Professor Elizabeth Crooke, who supervised this project and enthusiastically encouraged and advised me throughout. It was thanks to this dissertation topic that I managed to land my dream job in 2017, and I now feel equipped with knowledge, skills, experience and practice to continue working towards a successful career in my sector.
Isabel Bennett, Curator, Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Tralee, Co. Kerry
I was very lucky to be accepted into the first intake of the distance-learning PGD Museum Practice and Management, graduating in 2008. Having come from an archaeological background, I didn’t have the basic foundation that many working in the museum world would have. Our museum was involved in the Pilot Study, run by the Heritage Council, which eventually evolved into the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland, which made me realise how much I still had to learn about working in a museum!
As the only year-round employee in this small, local museum, I have to cover many areas including education, exhibition, maintenance of the website and Facebook, as well as all the other day-to-day curatorial tasks that take place.
The studies I undertook while following the PGD Museum Practice and Management have given me a wonderful foundation on which to build to enable me to carry out all these tasks with confidence.
It was wonderful that this distance-learning programme was available. Otherwise it would be extremely difficult for someone like me, who lives far away to attend any other 3rd level course of this quality. I commend the Ulster University for having given me this opportunity.