Postgraduate Course

MA Heritage and Museum Studies

MA Heritage and Museum Studies


The details
Heritage and Museum Studies
October 2024
1 year
Colchester Campus

Heritage is the physical and intangible cultural materials we choose to preserve and value. But heritage is also a matter of heated debate. How do we manage, preserve, and communicate our heritage today? In what ways is the past remembered or forgotten, exploited and renegotiated in the present? What are the differences between tangible and intangible, cultural and natural, physical and digital heritage?

Our interdisciplinary MA Heritage and Museum Studies offers specialist, practically-grounded and academic training exploring these questions and more. Our intensive degree emphasises the real-world relevance of debates surrounding cultural patrimony, and the ways in which it is presented and consumed.

The MA is made up of core and optional modules, where you will develop knowledge of the field and practical skills, all while pursing your own specialist interests in the field of heritage.

You will study topics including:

  • Heritage and human rights
  • Digital heritage and advanced digital literacy skills
  • Sustainability and ecological heritage
  • Curatorial practice and practical curatorial skills
  • Hands-on heritage skills and experience
  • Public engagement
  • Museum experience

One of the major reasons for choosing Essex is the quality of the education you will receive. We're 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, Research Excellence Framework 2021) and our School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies boasts a wide range of innovative undergraduate and postgraduate courses grounded in an interdisciplinary ethos that fosters new ways of thinking and learning.

Why we're great.
  • Gain skills and knowledge of heritage policy, management, conservation, education, engagement and enterprise.
  • We're 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, Research Excellence Framework 2021).
  • Gain experience working with galleries (e.g. Firstsite Gallery), museums (Royal Academy of Arts, V&A Museums), and heritage facilities and institutions (e.g. CNR Italy, English Heritage, ICCROM, digital heritage companies such as ThinkSee3D, Marconi Archive).

Our expert staff

We are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. You are taught by a highly qualified, enthusiastic team with wide-ranging research interests and a proven academic scholarship.

Our core staff consists of a dynamic group of world-leading heritage specialists and art historians; Dr Paola di Giuseppantonio di Franco, Dr Gavin Grindon, Dr Michael Tymkiw, Dr Lisa Blackmore and Dr Matt Lodder. Their research interests span a range of cultures and media, from the early modern to the present, with core specialisms including digital heritage, exhibition making, alternative and political heritages, environmental heritage, public engagement, activism, artistic, social and political history. Other staff who will be teaching are scholars engaging with heritage, public engagement and museums from multiple disciplines.

Specialist facilities

At Essex, you have the best of both worlds: on the one hand, you are part of a tight-knit, campus community with close ties to several small but excellent museums and heritage sites in the nearby towns of Colchester ('Britain's First City'), on the other hand, you can travel from campus to London in an hour, which puts the world's best museums, galleries, and heritage sites at your fingertips.

Our facilities enable you to gain curatorial experience, engage in object-based learning, and learn digital skills, a cornerstone of our approach to heritage and museums.

We have close links with many cultural sites and institutions in Colchester, which support hands-on activities and your practical learning.

Supported by our Centre for Curatorial Studies, you will benefit from our partnerships with major arts and cultural organisations to find out what it means to be work in this challenging sector.

Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK and has a state-of-the-art teaching and research space. Many of our students gain work and research experience through our collection.

Our onsite gallery Art Exchange runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, talks and workshops by curators and artists, as well as exhibitions organised by our postgraduate curatorial students.

Our university Special Collections include many objects and archives of contested heritage spanning hundreds of years, resources that can be the focus of MA student projects.

Your future

On completing this MA you will be well prepared to either undertake further postgraduate study in heritage, or to enter the workplace in the heritage industry, museums and related fields.

Graduates from our programmes are ideally prepared for roles in museums and galleries, in education (in schools, universities, and cultural institutions), as conservators and specialist art lawyers (with additional training and qualifications), as auctioneers, dealers and antiques specialists, the digital and creative media industries, in charities, in publishing, as PR agents, in fashion, or to run their own galleries.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies, including:

  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Sotheby's New York
  • Momart Ltd
  • John Lewis

We also offer research supervision for PhD and MPhil for those who want to continue with research.

We also work with the University's Careers Service to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in any discipline with a minimum of 3 modules relating to visual culture:

Visual Culture modules include, but are not limited to: Advertising, Aesthetics, Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Curatorial/Museum Studies, Digital Imaging, English Literature, Fashion, Film Studies, Film and Literature, Fine Art, Graphic Design, History, Landscape Design, Media Studies, Photography.


If you do not hold a degree which includes relevant modules, then we can still consider you. You should be able to show that you have relevant professional experience in one of the following fields:

  • Archaeological site
  • Fashion
  • Gallery
  • Museums
  • Other cultural institution
  • Publishing
  • Theatre

If you do not have a relevant degree or relevant experience, then we may ask you to provide a sample of written work which demonstrates your interest in this field.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Interdisciplinary MA Dissertation

Each student chooses an area of interdisciplinary research in which to write a dissertation of 12,000 words. Topics have to be agreed by an appropriate supervisor.

View Interdisciplinary MA Dissertation on our Module Directory


Heritage and Human Rights

This module will explore how conflicts over 'heritage' rights are, today more than ever, influencing critical debates over the definition of world, national, and local heritage, as well as universal, community, and individual rights. It will also examine the impact that tensions between communities and universal versus local values have on the management of heritage, and how these tensions might be resolved to allow sustainable growth. We will ask: What is heritage? Who defines it? Who should control its management and preservation? How is the notion of 'heritage' used to unite or otherwise divide communities? What are some of the consequences of the ways different groups appropriate and utilise heritage? Is there a universal right to free access, expression, and preservation of heritage, and if so, how is it expressed? What are the impacts of globalisation on heritage issues?

View Heritage and Human Rights on our Module Directory


Digital Heritage

Digital technologies and new media are becoming increasingly pervasive in the heritage and museum sector. Such transformations can positively impact the management, preservation, and communication of our heritage. However, they also have strong ethical implications: issues of access, authorship and ownership of the digital data; changes in the way scholars, audiences, and communities engage with heritage information through the digital, are some of the ethical dilemmas in the field. This module provides a combination of theoretical readings, applied studies with a wide geographical focus, and practical training that will allow students to critically examine the impact of new technologies and media on the heritage and museum sectors. Students will learn about specific digital techniques and how to implement them in the museum and heritage workflow. They will also analyse and compare digital practices of heritage making. By the end of the module students will understand how to think critically about: - how digital resources can alter knowledge production and dissemination in the cultural heritage sector; - how they can be used for public engagement, as well as to effectively enhance participatory heritage processes.

View Digital Heritage on our Module Directory


Option(s) from list


Postgraduate students in the School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies usually attend a one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar for each module each week or workshops.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

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Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

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Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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