Choosing an MA Course (Part Two)

Look at that awesome looking vintage girl, studying hard at University! I hope you will study hard when doing your Masters. This is the second of a third part series on choosing an MA course. So without further ado….

So in my last post, I talked about factors to think about when thinking about possibly undertaking an MA course. In this post I will talk about the different types of Heritage/Museum Studies/Conservation etc MA’s there is available within the UK.

There are LOTS of courses to choose from but I won’t be talking about specific courses in this post (that will be in a follow up post).

So what type of courses are there? There are three I can identify:

Heritage Studies/Heritage Management.

Museum Studies.


Heritage Studies:

For the purposes of this post we shall identify ‘Heritage’ as in ‘Heritage Sites’ i.e. country houses, battle sites, castle’s etc. For example Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland below.

Heritage studies would primarily be the study of how these various sites are managed along with the history of the sites/history of heritage studies. There would also be a placement element to the course, as having practical skills are essential within the Heritage and Museum industry.

Museum Studies:

‘Museum Studies,’ covers a broad spectrum of teaching and museology subjects. It can range from visitor services to conservation to exhibition development. Museum studies courses can also incorporate art gallery studies as part of their curriculum. Below are some spiffing students installing an exhibit in a museum:

Museum studies masters are ideal if you want to generalise instead of specialise (which is ideal, especially in the current job market!). A lot of masters courses cover exhibition development (where students have to produce an exhibition), museum studies theory and the history of museums & art galleries as part of their teaching. Also, another thing to consider is that there is nearly always a placement or an emphasis on practical experience found within Museum Studies masters.

Conservation Studies:

Conservation studies is a very specialised area and many people who study this already have a background within conservation i.e. conservation of artifacts such as material, textiles, furniture etc. Conservation studies cover the elements of how to conserve historical artifacts as well as the history of conservation within heritage sites and museums. Some conservation studies students hard at work, doing what they do best: Conserving!

Along with heritage studies & museum studies, conservation masters sometimes come with a practical element with the course. Because of the nature of the course, some conservation MA’s place a large amount of the marks allocated to the student based on their practical work.

A conservation studies MA is best suited to someone who wishes to solely concentrate (or enhance) their conservation skills albeit in a heritage site or a museum or gallery setting. Some students go on to have successful careers in painting restorations for galleries, auction houses and museums. And some students become solely freelance conservators working on a consultancy basis for bodies such as the National Trust or English Heritage. 

I hope this post has been useful in helping you decide what masters you would want to choose! Tweet me or comment below for any feedback.

All pictures are linked appropriately. 


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