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Museums, Audiences & Interpretation - ARC00013M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Harald Fredheim
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

The module will cover how museums engage with their audiences. Interpreting the past to the public has moved on from simply telling people facts about the past. We now expect to enter into a conversation about the past, and about which pasts people are interested. Using new digital media is part of this, and enables us to reach new audiences who might not consider visiting a museum in person. Understanding our actual and potential audiences, how and why they engage with the past, are now an important part of the museum profession.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • Critically evaluate the ways in which heritage is utilized in heritage interpretation, education, the media and tourism.

  • Consider the origins and histories of museums and developments in museology.

  • Critically examine the structure and management of modern museums.

  • Consider access and social inclusion issues in relation to site interpretation, museums practices and policies, and tourism.

  • Introduce issues of repatriation and community consultation in the curation, research, display and interpretation of artefacts and collections.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

  • Understand the role and responsibilities of heritage managers in heritage education, interpretation and tourism.

  • Understand current policy initiatives in heritage and museum interpretation, such as access and social inclusion.

  • Have a working understanding of the interpretation process in heritage management.

  • Have the skills to appraise the utility of interpretive and educational media and museum displays.

  • Be familiar with some of the current issues surrounding media and tourist interest in heritage.

  • Be aware of the history and development of museums.

Module content

The module will begin by exploring heritage interpretation theory and the role of different interpretive media. This will lead into understanding the role of different senses in engaging with museum spaces and objects. We will look at how we understand our audiences and the different ways in which we can evaluate their interaction with the museum. What do visitors want, and do we provide this? We will end by thinking about the future of museums, including the idea that perhaps the museum might become more like a shopping mall!


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 6 weeks

Indicative reading

Kidd, J (2014) Museums in the New Mediascape: Transmedia, Participation, Ethics. Farnham: Ashgate.

Simon, N (2010) The Participatory Museum. Santa Cruz: Museum 2.0:

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.