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MA / PGDip

Museum and Heritage Development

Nottingham Castle
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate taught
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Location: Clifton Campus
  • Starting: September 2020
  • Course duration: One year full-time / two years part-time


Museum and Heritage Development is a progressive, interdisciplinary course that combines the academic interrogation of museums and heritage as ideas, organisations and experiences with creative, practice-based approaches to their ongoing development in the 21st Century.

This course is designed and delivered through collaboration with the museum and heritage sector and in partnership with a number of institutions, sites and agencies reflecting the diversity of the sector, including: Museum Development East Midlands, East Midlands Museums Service, Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, Museum of the Mercian Regiment, The Canalside Heritage Centre, National Justice Museum, the National Videogame Arcade, and Barker Langham.

The course encourages and supports you to re-think and re-imagine museums and heritage through critical engagement and reflection and experimentation and creative practice; to develop the confidence and courage to see yourself as a scholar-practitioner leading the field. In doing so the course integrates academic and professional practice of what is an increasingly international, interdisciplinary field with the intention of establishing a new benchmark in postgraduate provision.

  • This course provides opportunities to work on live company projects, to volunteer, take work placements, go on field visits and be supported by professional industry mentors.
  • 94% of students would recommend studying this course at NTU (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019).
  • 94% student satisfaction rate for this course (PTES 2019).

What you'll study

Special features

The course is developed and delivered through collaboration and engagement with leading organisations within the city, the region, the UK and internationally. You will work on live projects throughout the taught elements of the course as the core component of your academic and professional development. This is further supported by guest keynote speakers, visiting professors, field visits, and professional student mentors from organisations across the region.

A strong international dimension to understanding museums and heritage runs throughout the course and is supported by an optional not-for-credit international field visit, in addition to case studies and literatures encountered in the classroom. Museum and Heritage Development introduces students to the realities of professional practice whilst at same time providing opportunities to speculate on the future of the field.

You will develop skills in critical and creative practice to design more creative, socially relevant and sustainable practices, for use within museums and related heritage organisations.

  • Modules

    • Purpose, Planning and Development

    This module explores the purpose of contemporary museums and related heritage organisations and the increasingly diverse and progressive roles they seek to perform. The module leads students both intellectually and practically through an innovative approach to museum planning and development whilst reflecting the diversity of museums and heritage as a cultural resource in the 21st century and the complexity of the sector in the UK and internationally.

    The module first critically interrogates the ways in which museums and heritage are defined before establishing a framework for museum and heritage planning and development that integrates thinking on the successful and sustainable development of institutions, collections, audiences, and experiences. The framework integrates understanding of institutional and strategic planning with questions of policy and resources from both within and beyond the field. Collaborative and partnership working is explored and examined as being central to successful and sustainable development and to understanding the value and impact of museums and heritage in society.

    • Materiality and Memory

    The material world lies at the heart of museum collections and cultural heritage. In the 21st century the primacy of tangible heritage is being supplemented by other ways of knowing and remembering and that recognise and embrace both western and non-western philosophies and frameworks as the hybridisation of practice accelerates. This module explores this expanded field of materiality, memory and experience through an international and interdisciplinary engagement with different ways of knowing and related practices of collecting, recording, making, showing, sharing and telling.

    This module therefore considers the fundamental resources and practices on which contemporary museums and heritage organisations are based, from the collection of material culture to the recording of place and experience. The module introduces students to a multidisciplinary range of contemporary concerns and practices including: objects and collections, place, landscape and architecture, oral history and testimony, digital and new media, and memorials, mourning and remembering.

    • Interpretation 1: Fieldwork

    Museums and related heritage organisations are centres of research; they are field-based cultural institutions that ask questions of material and immaterial worlds and create interpretations of them for, and increasingly with, diverse communities. This module explores interpretation as the defining research outcome of museum and heritage development within an innovative interdisciplinary and multifunctional framework that is international in scope. Interpretation takes place in the relationships curated and created between words, things, spaces, places, people and experience; it is the ongoing process of making and remaking museums and heritage.

    This module introduces students to different ways of researching and understanding people, places and experience, objects and collections. Issues and ideas considered during the module include collecting, listing and recording, visual literacies and embodied practices, the poetics and politics of representation, meaning-making, critical museum and heritage visiting, and the role of digital and new media.

    • Interpretation 2: Civil Engagement

    All over the world museums and related heritage organisations are becoming more open and collaborative in how they curate and create content. As part of a wider effort to remain relevant cultural institutions the sector is also developing more active and activist roles in contemporary life. This module explores the possibility of these institutions as agents of civil engagement within local and global contexts. It does this by focusing on interpretation as their defining, and ever diversifying, research outcome that makes things happen and makes a difference for society and its development.

    This module therefore builds on Interpretation 1: Fieldwork, by focusing on the potential of museums and heritage as creative agents of civil engagement in contemporary society. Themes explored include difficult heritage, activism and social work, and practices of interpretation including the relationship between information and emotion, narrative and storytelling, exhibition as aesthetic experience and art practice, digital delivery, installation and immersion and participation and performance.

    • Working in Museums and Heritage

    As workplaces, museums and heritage organisations are diverse, often complex professional environments requiring a flexible, creative and adaptable workforce, which includes both paid staff and in many instances, large numbers of volunteers. This module examines the character and diversity of the contemporary museum and heritage workforce and the wider, and increasingly global and mobile, heritage industry with a particular emphasis on entry-level and early career professional roles and the key skills needed at these levels. Central to the module is a four week (or equivalent 20 day commitment) work placement, where students are placed by the course team at a range of museum and heritage organisations. The module examines the contemporary museum and heritage workforce from different sectors and provides a practical introduction to key entry-level skills and competencies in audience development and collections development.

    • Museum and Heritage Futures

    This module explores the future of museums and heritage and their development. Possible futures are examined through scenarios, case studies and the development of leading museums and related heritage and cultural organisations internationally. Scenarios consider political, social, technological and cultural trends both within the UK and globally. The module aims to provide a critical and creative platform from which students are able to imagine possible museum and heritage futures that may challenge convention and accepted ways of thinking and doing.

    The module examines the possible futures of museums and heritage through scenario planning that explores a range of both internal and external issues and pressure that are and will impact on the sector over the next twenty to fifty years. Key factors examined may include sustainability and environmental change, demographics and population, social and cultural trends, digital futures, globalisation, democracy and politics, economic forecasting, and social justice and human rights.

    • Research Project

    The Research Project is the culmination of the MA, providing students with the opportunity to craft their own research project through critical-theoretical and/or practice-based work. The Research Project accommodates projects developed through a range of academic, professional, and geographical contexts depending on the motivation, interests and future ambitions of the student.

    Taught elements of the module introduce students to understandings of research practice relevant to the field, and the potential use of the Research Project to academic and professional development after the MA. Aspects of research practice examined include: creative research and material thinking, positionality and situated knowledge, research ethics, critical thinking and reflective practice, research questions and contexts.

    • International Field Visit (Not-for-Credit)

    Reflecting the international perspectives the programme takes to the field of museums and heritage, each year in the Spring after the placement, we organise a week-long not-for-credit field trip to a European city. In 2016 we shall be visiting Berlin, developing an itinerary together with our students.

How you’re taught


Assessment includes creative, practice-based work such as photography, film, exhibitions, programmes and events, live projects, presentations, a professional portfolio, essays, reports and a thesis reflecting the professional expertise in the field. There are no written examinations.

Resources and facilities:

  • dedicated seminar room;
  • additional computing facilities; and
  • online support.

Research opportunities

The MA offers the opportunity to undertake a written thesis or piece of practice-based research.

Work placement

Completion of a suitable work placement and report are compulsory elements of the professional development module of the programme. The placement at a museum, country house, historic site or other heritage organisation is additional to any ongoing voluntary work and lasts approximately 20 days (four weeks equivalent). The placement block is normally after the Easter break each year.

The University has a long track record in facilitating work placements across the heritage sector, which are successful both for students and placement hosts. Some students have gone on to gain employment with their hosts and many of those students, who are then employed, go on to offer placements to students in their workplace. Our academic staff will discuss your needs during the course and will help you to secure a placement of benefit to you.

You can also carry out voluntary work with a local heritage organisation one day per week throughout the course.

Roles and activities

There is no set pattern to placement work. Past roles (see below) have been as diverse as the host organisations themselves. Whether the placement has clearly defined objectives and tasks, or if there is an open remit to assist with many activities, emphasis is placed on flexibility, professionalism and good communication. There is the opportunity for hosts to comment on the placement via an evaluation form. A placement visit by a staff member is also planned, where possible.

The placement report is formally structured. It reflects the student's experiences during the placement and should contain information, evidence and evaluation relating to the assessment criteria:

  • demonstrated ability to work in the museum and heritage industry by successful completion of a work-based placement in a heritage organisation
  • presentation, assessment and evaluation of objectives set for the placement and for professional development
  • research and evaluation of the host institution
  • demonstrated ability to apply theoretical and underpinning knowledge to the placement experience
  • document and discuss activities undertaken and provide supporting evidence
  • core transferable and professional skills are identified and evaluated and supporting evidence provided
  • challenges specific to the individual are identified and evaluated and supporting evidence provided
  • assess impact on future strategy for career development
  • health and safety issues are discussed and evaluated.
Recent placement and voluntary work activities include:
Visitor services and events assistance National Trust: Tyntesfield, Hardwick Hall, Sudbury Hall, Kedleston Hall, Southwell Workhouse, Mr Straw's House, Belton House, Alnwick Castle
Visitor consultation and questionnaires British Museum, Interpretation Department; Wollaton Hall; University of Cambridge Museums
Audio tour research and planning Galleries of Justice, Nottingham
Site evaluations and reports Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service (VAQAS)
Collections relocation, documentation The Collection, Lincoln
Decorative art collections research Nottingham Castle Museum
Visitor surveys Nottingham City Museums
Schools loans service research and collections management Access Artefacts, Nottingham City Museums
Collections, exhibitions and educational activity assistance Museum of English Rural life, University of Reading; Bedford Museum
Exhibitions development Snibston Discovery Park, Galleries of Justice
Interpretation, collections management DH Lawrence Heritage
Heritage site interpretation leaflets Bunny Wood Woodland Trust; Peak National Park
Project administration assistance HLF East Midlands
Collections research Leicester Jewry Wall Museum
Archives research Galleries of Justice; Bromley Library

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn a new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have.

Learning a new language can: enhance your communication skills, enrich your experience when travelling abroad and boost your career prospects. Find out more about the University Language Programme.

100% of students said that their confidence to be innovative or creative has developed during the course (PTES 2019).

Careers and employability

The course, your placements and live projects will give you experience and skills that are highly valued by museums and the wider heritage industry employers. As well as museum curators, educators, and visitor service managers in museums and the heritage field, this course also provides the opportunity to work with and join a heritage consultancy company.

Recent graduates (of our previous course, MA Museum and Heritage Management) have gone on to work for a wide range of museums and authorities including:

  • The National Trust;
  • English Heritage;
  • Museums, Libraries and Archives Council;
  • Museum database software suppliers;
  • Heritage Lottery Fund; and
  • local authorities and independent museums.

Further information on careers and employability

Culture Syndicates CIC

Graduates Charlotte Pratley and Jessica Tarver established the successful heritage project services and support company – Culture Syndicates CIC back in 2011 whilst studying at NTU. The concept for the company was devised along with Course Leader Neville Stankley, who now acts as an Advisory Director.

This unique enterprise provides specialist advice and assistance to heritage organisations regarding collections, marketing, and access projects. It seeks to counteract trends in the heritage industry, which make it hard for sector entrants to gain their first job. The company offers paid internships for NTU students, bridging academia and practice in order to help share knowledge and innovations.

100% of students feel that the course has helped them to feel better prepared for their future career (PTES 2019).

Entry requirements

You will need:

  • a UK honours (minimum 2.2) degree or equivalent, in any subject area

Recent practical experience with a professionally run museum or heritage organisation is desirable, but not essential.

Applications from candidates with non-standard entry qualifications will be considered on an individual basis if they can demonstrate relevant professional experience.

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our courses. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

Pre-masters and foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our pre-masters and foundation courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please email our international team for advice.

How to apply

Ready to join us?

Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow our step-by-step guide. You can apply for this course throughout the year. Most of our postgraduate and professional courses are popular and fill up quickly though, so apply as soon as you can.

Writing your application

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. Make sure you include as much information as possible, including uploading evidence of results already achieved, as well as a personal statement.

Keeping up to date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU in our postgraduates’ guide. Here you’ll find advice about how to write a good personal statement and much more. Good luck with your application!

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please contact us at Ask NTU or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Apply directly to the University online using the NTU online application portal.

Apply as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here you need to plan this into your application.

Keeping up to date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Good luck with your application!

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please contact us at Ask NTU or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Course Home / EU 
Home / EU 
MA Museum and Heritage Development £8,200 £4,100
PG Dip Museum and Heritage Development £5,470 £2,735
PG Cert Museum and Heritage Development £2,670 -

All fees stated are for September 2020 entry.

Please note that if you are considering a part-time route that runs over more than one year, the tuition fee stated is for Year One of study. The course fee for Year Two is subject to annual review.

Fees may be subject to change.

Please see our postgraduate fees, scholarships and bursaries page for more information.

The Dr Pauline Polkey Scholarship

The School of Arts and Humanities will be offering two full fee scholarships for UK students who have been offered a place to study on an eligible course which starts in September 2020. The deadline for applications is 16:00 GMT on 15 July 2020.Terms and conditions apply.
Please see our postgraduate fees, scholarships and bursaries page for more information on how to apply.

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. Please take a look at our postgraduates’ guide funding page for information about sourcing grants, bursaries and scholarships, and much more.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service on +44 (0)115 848 2494.

Find out more about our terms and conditions of study for this course.

Course International 
MA Museum and Heritage Development £15,100
PG Dip Museum and Heritage Development £9,400
PG Cert Museum and Heritage Development £4,835

All fees stated are for September 2020 entry.

Please see our postgraduate fees, scholarships and bursaries page for more information.

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study at the University.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418