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Debates in Museum Theory & Practice - ARC00108M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Harald Fredheim
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

Museum practice is a much debated and continually changing field. This module will look at current debates and issues facing museums. We will explore how museums and heritage organisations are engaging with these debates and the various media they use to do so. A key skill we will be developing in this module is how to negotiate responses to contested issues as a team in order to pragmatically and constructively respond to stakeholders and move current debates forward.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To enhance awareness of current issues in museums

  • To explore the range of media museums and heritage organisations use to engage in these issues and how to use them effectively.

Module learning outcomes

Students will:

  • gain increased understanding of current issues in museum theory and practice

  • enhance their skills in discussion and debate

  • develop transferable skills in analysing academic and popular texts/media

  • Improve their understanding of how to engage in public debates on contentious issues

Module content

This module will introduce and explore current debates in museum theory and practice. Heritage organisations and practitioners are increasingly challenged to take a stand on a range of pressing social issues. We will consider how the sector is responding to current challenges through a range of media and how to productively use these media to move the debates forward. We will begin by considering what museums are, as well as their role in society. We will then cover a current debate in the sector each week, through an introductory lecture, followed by small-group discussions/debates. In groups, you will select one of the debates we discuss to explore in more detail and present an intervention designed to move the debate forward constructively, using one of the media we have covered in the module.


Task Length % of module mark
Pre-recorded group presentations
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback within 20 working days

Indicative reading

Janes, Robert R. and Sandell, Richard (eds.), 2020. Museum Activism. Abingdon: Routledge.

Marstine, J. (ed.), 2006 New museum theory and practice. Oxford: Blackwell.

Macdonald, S. (ed.), 2011. A Companion to Museum Studies. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

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.