Taught course

Museum and Artefact Studies

Durham University · Department of Archaeology

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to be awarded, a 2:1 Honours degree or an international equivalent, such as a GPA of 3.3 or above and hold some museum work experience.

Reference Requirements

One satisfactory reference is required.

Application Deadlines

There is no specific deadline for applications although applications for any given academic year must be received before the start of that academic year (i.e. applications for the 2021-22 academic year must be received before October 2021).

Tuition fee deposit

All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa. £500 deposit is also payable by Home applicants if an offer of a place from the Department of Archaeology is accepted.

Months of entry


Course content

Durham’s MA in Museum and Artefact Studies is a unique course offering a choice of professional and academic-focused routes tailored to equip you with the skills and expertise to develop a successful career in museums, the cultural heritage sector or in the academic world.

The course is based within the Department of Archaeology and although we deal with the past, we also ensure as a course that we look into the future with the aim of building upon our global reputation as one of the best archaeological research departments and continually improving your experience with us within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In terms of learning, you will develop a critical understanding of current professional principles and contemporary debates relating to museum and artefact studies. You will also develop professional skills relevant to the care, management and exhibition of collections in museums and analytical skills, relevant to the study of a wide range of materials and artefacts from different periods and cultures. In addition, the course structure will help improve your ability to take a personal responsibility for your own learning, for working in teams and for your professional conduct.

You will have the option to select one of two routes through the course depending on your career aspirations. The research paper route is ideal if you want to work in museums or galleries. You are likely to benefit from the dissertation route if you have an interest in artefact studies, want a career in the cultural heritage sector or are planning to undertake postgraduate research after completing your MA.

As a department we are very aware of our place as a learning community and for the need to create a sustainable future in which there is also space to care for the knowledge and materials from our past.

Core modules

Museum Principles and Practice introduces museological theory and practice and provides an understanding of the principles, practice and debates around professional museum work, in particular collection and museum management. The module will enable you to develop a critical perspective and to use it in the assessment of museums and to build professional skills, through seminars, workshops and a placement at a local or national museum.

Artefact Studies provides an understanding of the theory, practice and status of artefact studies, from an archaeological and an interdisciplinary perspective, referencing museum collections and archives. You will learn about the physical properties, and traditional production and consumption, of a range of materials and products and subsequently gain the necessary skills in handling, analysing, interpreting and recording them. You will also study a range of artefacts and materials from different periods and cultures.

Debating Heritage and Museums enables you to identify and discuss the similarities and differences between heritage studies and museum studies and to develop your understanding of their key concepts, principles, theories and debates using case-studies from around the world. The module will also deliver the necessary skills in research and analysis that you can take into your subsequent academic or professional working life.

You will also complete either a Research Paper or a Dissertation depending on your route through the course. If you plan to pursue a career in museums and galleries after the MA, you will research and write a research paper in an area of interest. Alternatively, if your interests lie in cultural heritage or you intend to undertake further postgraduate research, you will complete the more in-depth dissertation in an aspect of museum and artefact studies of your choice.

For the remainder of the course, you will be able to make a selection from the following option modules.

For the dissertation route, you will select one from:

  • Research Topics in Archaeology
  • Care of Collections (Museum Studies)
  • Museum Communication
  • Protecting World Heritage

For the research paper route, you will select two from:

  • Care of Collections (Museum Studies)
  • Museum Communication
  • Protecting World Heritage
  • A Level 4 module offered by the Department of Archaeology (subject to approval)

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions