MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies

"The interdisciplinary nature of the graduate programme in the School is unparalleled"

In their words

Lisa Binder, Associate Curator, Museum for African Art, New York

Key facts

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), UEA was ranked third in the UK for its research impact in Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (Times Higher REF 2014 Analysis).

Museums and heritage bodies have a major influence on cultures and societies across the globe. They respond to and shape current moral, political, social, ethical and religious debates. By connecting the present to the past, they help shape the future. 

On this postgraduate course you’ll develop an understanding of the history of museums and heritage bodies, and critically interrogate the theoretical models on which they’re based. At the same time, you’ll acquire knowledge of the practical approaches used in the 21st century museum and heritage sectors.

You’ll have opportunities to study the world-famous collection of art held in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, itself a celebrated icon of modern museum architecture.


The greatest strength of this course is the way it combines the theory and practice of both cultural heritage and museum-based collections. You’ll be invited to think about museums and cultural heritage from a global perspective, whilst drawing on the wealth of nationally-recognised institutions across the East Anglian region.

You’ll benefit from studying within the multi-disciplinary department of Art History and World Art Studies, learning from academic staff who approach museum studies and cultural heritage from a range of outlooks, including art historical, archaeological, and anthropological perspectives.

You’ll also have the chance to build your professional skills with the compulsory Museum and Heritage Practice module. This comprises a work-based placement and a series of sessions that include presentations by senior industry experts.

The course will prepare you for a variety of careers in the museum and heritage sectors. Alternatively, you can use it to launch yourself into advanced research into the rapidly advancing fields of museum studies and cultural heritage.

Course Structure

On this course you’ll take a number of compulsory modules covering a range of topics. In the module World Heritage: Problems and Prospects you’ll explore the 20th century development of heritage practices. In Critical Perspectives in Museums and Heritage you’ll question and analyse approaches to collections, the built environment, and intangible heritage. By studying these two courses together you’ll gain a global perspective on heritage and museums, and the critical apparatus to consider practical industry issues and approaches.

In the module Interpretation and Participation in Museums and Heritage you’ll become conversant with different theories of learning and learning styles.

You’ll then choose an optional module addressing historical and contemporary museum and heritage practices.

You’ll also take the compulsory Museum and Heritage Practice module. Here you’ll gain industry-specific professional experience. As part of this module you’ll undertake a minimum of 15 days on placement with an appropriate heritage organisation or museum. This could be local, within the UK or overseas.

You’ll also attend a series of sessions covering topics related to professional practice and skills. These will include current ‘state of the sector’ assessments by invited expert industry professionals, and career preparation sessions including CV building.

You’ll write an independently researched dissertation on a topic of your own choosing, supported by an academic advisor. Your dissertation is a chance to immerse yourself in the aspect of the course that interests you most. It’s also a chance for you to demonstrate the kind of innovative scholarship which progresses our discipline.

Teaching and Learning

You’ll be taught in small seminar groups where you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to discussions and engage with specialist readings. Where appropriate, modules will also include fieldtrips or site visits.

The ability to study beyond the classroom will be vital to your success at postgraduate level. For each module you’ll be given reading lists which act as your starting point. You’ll also be encouraged to engage with museums and heritage sites by visiting exhibitions, installations and festivals, and by reading newly published professional and academic literature. You’ll be given research methods training and discipline-specific skills to support you in your independent study.


You’ll be assessed exclusively on coursework. Formative work is used to help prepare you for submission of summative coursework. Most of your coursework will be essay-based, requiring fully referenced academic prose. For some assessments you might need to deliver an in-class presentation, a project, or piece of reflective writing.

After the course

By the end of the course you’ll have acquired a balanced combination of practical experience, theoretical and historical knowledge, and critical awareness. This will make you attractive to arts and heritage organisations, cultural heritage sites, historic properties management, museum curation, collections care, learning, and development.

Career destinations

  • Curator / assistant curator
  • Collections and research manager  
  • Conservation manager / assistant
  • Education and outreach manager / assistant
  • Media manager / assistant  
  • Property / site manager

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of other course-related costs.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 160 credits:

Name Code Credits


Museums house our most celebrated heritage, yet their role in the world is often questioned. For instance, it is clear that the worldwide recognition of archaeological heritage also encourages iconoclasm. Indeed, the archaeology of ancient monuments was often part of regimes put in place by colonial empires. Current debates in museums and heritage engage with this legacy of empire in order to decolonize our heritage. This module will enable you to engage with these debates by studying critical approaches to museums and heritage. You'll study the making of public museums in the nineteenth century; the development of the exhibitionary complex; the new museology; questions around ownership and repatriation; monuments and memorial museums; authenticity and authority; and the establishment of heritage regimes by UNESCO and national legislation. By presenting the most important debates in critical museum and heritage studies, this module will equip you with the required theoretical background for work in these institutions. Choosing your own subjects for seminar presentations, you can customise the module to suit your interests.




During this year, you will write a dissertation on a topic relevant to the practice and theory of your degree programme. You can choose your own topic, subject to the approval of the Course Director. You can explore any aspect of museum or heritage studies as long as it engages with a question on either practical or theoretical aspects of museums or heritage. You will research and write the dissertation independently, though with the support of an appointed supervisor. The dissertation allows you to focus on an aspect of museums and heritage that enables you to raise your profile as a competent professional and future employee.




"We offer active participative experiences rather than just opening the doors" (Michael Day, CEO Historic Royal Palaces, 2017). Central to Museums and cultural heritage institutions are a shared set of practices relating to their public presentation. In this module, you'll focus on the role of interpretation in cultural institutions, and vice versa. You'll investigate how museums and heritage sites engage with their audiences, and who these audiences are. Access, understood in its broadest sense, involves all facets of work in the cultural sector, but presents unique issues as well, which you will examine in relation to academic theory, vocational skills, and topical research and debates.




On this module, you will gain direct experience of working in the heritage and museum sector. The exact details of your placement will be worked out with the module organiser, using - where possible - our connections with a range of museum and heritage organisations in Norwich, Norfolk, and East Anglia. There is also the possibility for you to undertake your work placement elsewhere if you wish, subject to appropriate approval and arrangements. At the end of the module, you will submit a written piece of work developed directly from your individual placement. This may be a professional piece of writing, such as a policy document, or a more reflexive piece of work, like a learning journal. Flexibility is built into this module in order to respond to individual student interests and to contemporary needs and issues in the professional sector.




World heritage has become a dominant concept in the social and scholarly fields of cultural heritage. It informs a diverse range of interpretive, political, legal, economic, and touristic activity. The rise of internationalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has gone a long way in sustaining ideas and practices that inform 'global' heritage. These ideas and practices have been elaborated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and have been made tangible, in many instances, as World Heritage Sites. The centrality of world heritage to UNESCO and related organisations sets up a range of key questions that this module addresses: What are the universalistic underpinnings of the concept of world heritage and how do these play out in different contexts? How do World Heritage Sites and UNESCO figure in the field of Cultural Heritage Studies? How have exponents of different disciplines approached the uneven presence of world heritage in various historical and geo-cultural milieus? Through a full and critical engagement with such questions, you should be able to identify various scales of problems as well as prospects in world heritage. In its facilitation of informed and imaginative responses to these, the module could propel you towards an on-going participation in and commitment to the field of Cultural Heritage Studies.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Treatment of historic tangible and intangible culture has always been guided and shaped by political, social, religious and economic conditions of the present. In this module you will investigate and come to understand the key conservationist movements as they relate to moments of social change and the ways in which their views came to revise approaches to the protection and conservation of historic sites, collections and cultures. In charting these changes in the UK from around 1850 onwards, you will develop a contextualised understanding of contemporary agendas in the governance of the UK's museum and heritage assets.




This module introduces you to the theoretical and practical study of digital heritage and archiving, through an engagement with the collections of the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA) and the British Archive for Contemporary Writing (BACW). It will address theoretical developments in cultural heritage and digital humanities, comparing traditional approaches to archival principles and practices to new developments in preserving digital media. The module will allow you to explore practical issues of collection management and administration, including collection development, appraisal and accessioning policies, cataloguing and accessing data, copyright and licensing issues, and ethics and standards. It will take you through the 'lifecycle' of the archival object from acquisition to arrangement, description, preservation and subsequent access. Along this journey we will consider topics such as digitisation, migration, authenticity, restoration and copyright. At the end of the module you will have a good understanding of key issues and processes within the archive sector and be in a position to apply for internships or volunteer opportunities within UEA Archives or other heritage organisations.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

  • At A Crossroads

    Since 2011, researchers from UEA’s Sainsbury Research Unit have been conducting yearly archaeological field trips to the banks of the Niger River in northern Benin, West Africa, as part of the Crossroads of Empires research project.

    Read it At A Crossroads
  • Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich

    Fifty-eight parish churches are known to have stood within the walls of medieval Norwich. Despite damage and loss, thirty-one remain today, which is the largest concentration of urban medieval churches north of the Alps.

    Read it Medieval Parish Churches of Norwich
  • Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

    The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most prominent university art galleries in Britain, and a major national centre for the study and presentation of art.

    Read it Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

    Your University questions, answered

    Read it #ASKUEA

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Humanities or Social Sciences
  • Degree Classification UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 42 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


Interviews are required for students applying to the MA in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies . If you are living overseas, these may be undertaken by telephone at a mutually convenient time.  Please note that applicants who have not yet met the English Language requirement will still be expected to conduct an interview in English.


This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact the university directly for further information.


All applications for postgraduate study are processed through the Admissions Office and then forwarded to the relevant School of Study for consideration. If you are currently completing your first degree or have not yet taken a required English language test, any offer of a place will be conditional upon you achieving this before you arrive.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850 (full time)
  • International Students: £16,400 (full time)

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for Home/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

There are a variety of scholarships, studentships and other awards available to those applying for places on our taught postgraduate degrees.

Click on the link below to see what is currently available.

Funding for Masters Degrees and Diplomas

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515