Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components
UK fees
£12,000 (Total)
International fees
£25,250 (Total)

Course overview

Student taking photo of a gallery display

The Art Gallery and Museum Studies MA aims to provide you with a critical understanding of issues in curatorship, museology and museum management.

You'll develop a critical understanding of the histories of art galleries and museums and explore and challenge key ideas that have shaped museum practice. You'll deploy these historical and theoretical understandings to develop innovative approaches to curation, interpretation and engaging audiences.

This Masters course considers the ways in which material culture has been represented and interpreted by historians and cultural theorists, the methodologies behind museum practice and methods of display and interpretation, and also puts theory and practice into dialogue.

Supported by the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage, you will gain the knowledge and skills for a successful career in the museum and art gallery sector.

You'll study in the heart of a cultural hub for this diverse and vibrant region. Leeds is home to a wide variety of world-leading and innovative arts and heritage organisations, from the Royal Armouries, Opera North, Leeds Playhouse and Northern Ballet, to museums, galleries and heritage sites and many contemporary art spaces.

We are also close to everything the rest of Yorkshire has to offer, from The Hepworth Wakefield to the National Science and Media Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Brontë Parsonage Museum. We have close links with many of these cultural institutions to support your practical learning.

You'll become a member of the Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage and enjoy opportunities from networking events and links to alumni to conferences, seminars and reading groups.

Course tutors include researchers with a background in collections, curatorial, education and engagement work:

Specialist facilities

Housed within a single central campus location, the School offers a modern and well-equipped learning environment with several studio and exhibition spaces.

Project Space is the School’s multi-purpose space designed for the development of curatorial practice and visiting exhibitions.

The Brotherton Library holds a wide variety of manuscript, archive and early printed material in its Special Collections - valuable assets for your independent research.

In addition to the wide range of museums and galleries in the city and beyond, the University campus features:

Course details

You will study a range of compulsory and optional modules that address theory and practice in museums.

History and the Museum traces the emergence of art galleries, museums and country houses in western Europe and opens up critical questions about how the past is presented. You can build on this work and specialise in your own areas of interest, through choosing from an array of optional modules in the School and beyond that explore contemporary curatorial strategies, technologies and media, cultural memory and material culture.

In Interpretations, you will work on a digital interpretive intervention based around selected museum, gallery and heritage collections. This experience prepares you for the option of undertaking a work placement project with an external organisation or optional modules exploring audiences, participation or engagement in semester two. Read about exhibitions and activities curated by our students.

In Critical Issues, you are supported to locate interpretive, conservation, curatorial or marketing practices in the context of current academic and professional debates. Through a number of tailored strands – covering topics such as contemporary art, heritage, participation and the digital – you will develop your own mini-research project, which prepares you for your MA dissertation.

The optional module Placements in Context: Policy, Organisations and Practice supports you to deliver a collaborative group project responding to a brief set by one of our many gallery, museum and heritage partners. Previous projects have collaborated with organisations such as the National Science and Media Museum, Leeds Museums and Galleries, The Tetley, and Hyde Park Picture House. We work with a range of organisations in Leeds and beyond to develop placement projects that have a direct impact on the work of our partners and give you a crucial insight into employment in the sector.

Your dissertation project develops research around museums, galleries and heritage practice and theories. You can either choose a standard route or develop a practice-led dissertation project, where you combine practical work with critical reflective writing.

If you choose to study part-time, you will take fewer modules each year. It is expected that you will be timetabled for around between three to five contact hours per week. The part-time option may be of special interest to those who are working in related fields as part of their career development.

The staff have a wide range of research interests and are leaders in their fields - it was inspiring to be taught by academics whose work I have studied.

- Amy Walker, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Core Modules

Interpretations (15 credits)
Interpretations will support you to develop critically-engaged, reflexive and practical understandings of interpretive practice in art galleries, museums and heritage. Interpretations is an action learning module. You will work collaboratively with other students to respond to a professional brief. By the end of the 11 Week semester you will have developed, designed and marketed your interpretative intervention.

Critical Issues (15 credits)
In Critical Issues you will be supported to locate interpretive, conservation, curatorial or marketing practices in the context of current conceptual and professional debates. Through a number of tailored strands, you will be supported to explore what is at stake in how professional practices have developed and are carried out. You will also explore how, through critical analysing, researching and adapting these practices, we can inform decision-making in art gallery, museum and heritage practice. The strands will draw on a variety of theoretical traditions and innovative examples of practice in order to explore urgent issues in the field.

History and the Museum: Representation, Narrative and Memory (30 credits)
This module introduces students to the ways in which Western museums have represented and interpreted history and historical material. The module directs student attention to the dialectic between history and the museum and the role of the museum as a 'frame' for history and historical knowledge. The module considers the writings of historians, philosophers, curators, architects and cultural theorists, focusing on a broad conception of the 'museum', including art galleries, de-industrialised 'heritage', and the City as 'museum'.

Choose one from the two available dissertation modules:

Dissertation for the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies (60 credits)
The MA Art Gallery & Museum Studies dissertation will enable students to make an original contribution to knowledge and understanding of an aspect of museological and/or curatorial study. The dissertation workshops and individual supervisions will support the development of independent research and critical and conceptual thinking. Alongside this, there will be an emphasis on assessing the critical, theoretical and reflective skills necessary to independently develop research relevant to the museum, gallery and heritage sector. A specific area of research will be developed by the student with the support of their supervisor, drawing from approaches developed throughout the MA programme.

MA Practice-led Dissertation (60 credits)
The MA Practice-led Dissertation will enable students to make an original contribution to knowledge and understanding of an aspect of their field of study. The dissertation workshops and individual supervisions will support the development of independent research and critical and conceptual thinking. Alongside this, there will be an emphasis on assessing the critical and practical skills necessary to independently develop new projects and interventions. A specific area of research will be developed by the student with the support of their supervisor, drawing from practice-led approaches.

Optional modules

Choose two optional modules – these vary year on year but may include:

Jewish Museums and the Display of Cultural Difference (30 credits)
Museums are increasingly conscious of the need to be socially inclusive. Traditional models of privileging high art and 'white western' art have come under sharp criticism. On this module, we will examine how museums have integrated (or failed to do so) the artefacts of the Jewish minorities in Europe and the USA. We will look at the historical reasons for the omission of Jewish culture from many museums, and the particularities of the models adopted for Jewish museums and Jewish exhibits in ethnographic and local history contexts.

Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust (30 credits)
The objectives of this module are to consider the continuing significance of the events known as the Holocaust or Shoah as they enter representation. The module will consider testimony and oral archives of survivors' witness, current moves to create Holocaust museums, artistic projects of memorialisation and counter-memory, autobiographical narratives and films, psychotherapeutic work with the generations of survivors' children. Cinematic attempts to respond to the Holocaust will also be studied. These voices, words and images pose the question of what it is that is struggling into or out of representation and what is means for everyone living in the shadow of this major event in western modernity.

Movies, Migrants and Diasporas (30 credits)
This module is dedicated to migration and diaspora in Europe as reflected in the cinema. It introduces students to the work of filmmakers with, for example, German Turkish, Black or Asian British, Maghrebi French, Roma or Jewish backgrounds, productions made by transnational Eastern European practitioners and films about migration and diaspora created by non-migrant/diasporic writers and directors. The module situates film analysis in the wider field of postcolonial/critical migration studies, diaspora criticism. The guided engagement with a selection of theoretical texts and relevant films enables students to recognise and discuss analytically the relationship between the (popular) representation of migrant and diasporic experiences and the socio-political discourses of ethnicity, 'race', immigration, national identity and cultural diversity.

Intersecting Practices: Questioning the Intersection of Contemporary Art and Heritage (30 credits)
Artist's 'interventions' in museums and heritage spaces are a significant form of interpretive practice in the contemporary visitor 'offer' at many museums and heritage sites. However, the role of artists within heritage interpretation needs critical attention to understand the benefits and challenges implicit within this practice. This module challenges the notion of the 'stable' heritage site, and 'temporary' intervention to enable students to understand the complexity which exists at the intersection of contemporary art and heritage, particularly in relation to interpretive methodologies and visitor experience.

Adventures in the Archive (30 credits)
Adventures in the Archives is an interdisciplinary module that overlaps discourses such as photography & moving image, curatorial studies, historical studies, anthropology, critical studies, architecture, and cultural studies. We invite students from a range of disciplines, to consider ideas around the notions of archive, memory and history; and their relation to contemporary life today.

Art & Money: the modern and contemporary art markets (30 credits)
The module is a chronologically ordered and thematic investigation of some of the key notions in the developments of the modern and contemporary art markets. It will direct critical attention to the role and function of the art market in the period 1850 to present day.

Art of the Silk Roads (30 credits)
The ‘Silk Roads’ were a complex of networks that connected China, Japan, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, East Africa, and the Mediterranean world from antiquity through to the fifteenth century. This module introduces students to some of the key centres and routes along these networks, exploring questions of cultural connectivity, collaboration, and innovation. It will interrogate ideas about and definitions of borders, cultural and religious identity, confrontation, collaboration, and appropriation by considering the role and agency of artworks within a series of interconnected mercantile, religious and social networks. It also explores the ways in which art (and sometimes artistic techniques) were created, exchanged, looted, censored, destroyed, and repurposed through time and across geographies.

Anthropology, Art and Representation (30 credits)
On completion of this module students will have a good grasp of anthropological perspectives on the category art. The course avoids the common view that the anthropology of art is only concerned with tribal or ethnographic art. Rather it uses anthropological and cultural theory to introduce students to a comparative perspective on cultural representation. Students will be introduced to a number of case studies ranging from post-colonial cinema to audience perspectives on African masquerades, via the global marketing of world music.

Placements in Context: Policy, Organizations and Practice (30 credits)
You will undertake a placement or piece of commissioned project work, which may involve collaboration with a cultural sector partner. By the end of the module, you will have critically reflected on your placement or project experience. You will do this through putting it in the wider contexts of policy, funders and funding streams and the mission and structure of the organizational contexts within which you are working. Through horizon scanning and identifying future trends, the module will enable you to understand your placement project and personal career planning within longer term shifts and changes within the cultural sector.

Creative Inquiry, Communication and Learning (30 credits)
Creative Inquiry, Communication and Learning is for postgraduate students seeking to understand the relationship between the creative arts and creative practice, communication and learning. The module will draw on research and pedagogy based on creative inquiry, defined as ‘any social research or human inquiry that adapts the tenets of the creative arts as part of the methodology’ (Leavy 2014: 1). It will be led by teaching staff involved in a range of research projects looking at communication, education and public engagement through creative inquiry. Students will engage in creative inquiry as part of the classes, but no previous experience of creative practice is necessary.

Creative Work (30 credits)
Creative Work provides an opportunity to explore and increase understanding about the labour market in the cultural industries. This is done through a combination of case studies, theoretical discussion and primary research. Through case studies and primary research, this module engages with critical debates about the conditions of labour in the cultural and creative industries, and its social, political and economic dynamics.

Performance and Collaborative Enterprise (30 credits)
The module offers opportunity for students from across MA programmes to share their diverse interests and skills through engagement in a collaborative venture. The intention is to create a series of negotiated interventions, performances and/or projects that either respond to a commission or are initiated and pitched as a response to the particular interests identified by the module participants. The module is intended to be multi-disciplinary, collaborative and informed by an ethos of performance praxis.

Audience, Engagement and Impact (30 credits)
This interdisciplinary module studies how artists and arts organisations can design meaningful and memorable audience experiences and how, in turn, these can be evaluated in terms of strategic and cultural value. Students will critically investigate a range of audience engagement strategies and explore different methods of capturing and evaluating the impact that the arts can have on audiences, whether live or digitally and whether locally or globally.

Learning and teaching

You'll be taught by leading researchers and experienced practitioners in their fields, and benefit from a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures and seminars, group learning sessions, as well as gaining insights into specific collections in museum, archive and library sessions.

You'll learn from practical experience on projects alongside fellow students and sectoral professionals, and a variety of external speakers will give you an insight into contemporary practice in the sector.

You'll also utilise digital technologies and resources relevant to the museum and gallery sector.

Independent study is an important element of the degree, allowing you to develop your research and critical skills. The University Library offers free classes and resources on topics such as academic integrity and plagiarism, public speaking, searching for information and structuring essays.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Depending on the modules you choose, you may experience a range of different assessment methods. These can include essays, individual and group presentations, digital interpretation projects, portfolio building and project work.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject. Previous academic work should indicate an ability to develop critical thinking around the sector.

Professional experience will also be considered.

Experience of volunteering or working in a relevant field, such as museums, galleries, auction houses and/or heritage organisations, is required. We do not require a specific length of time to have spent in work experience though you must be able to critically reflect on your experience in your personal statement and at interview.

Applying from China

Due to the large numbers of applications we receive, we’re only able to offer places to applicants who have attended selected Chinese institutions. With regret, any applications we receive from applicants awarded a qualification in China from an institution that isn’t on this list will be rejected.


Our admissions team are experienced in considering a wide range of international qualifications. If you wish to discuss whether your qualifications will meet the necessary entry criteria, contact the School’s admissions team.

You can also check the accepted qualifications for your country or region.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in all components. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Please see our How to Apply page for information about application deadlines.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • Your degree certificate and transcripts, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying.

  • A recent CV.

  • Evidence of your English language qualifications if English is not your first subject.

  • A personal statement. Please directly respond to the four questions listed below. To help structure your personal statement, copy and paste the four questions and answer each one in turn.

    • Please explain your reasons for applying to this particular MA course in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at University of Leeds. Are there particular approaches to study, modules, research expertise or other factors that attracted you to the programme?

    • How has your academic experience to date prepared you to embark on postgraduate level study in art gallery & museum studies? Consider any theories, texts and academic assignments that relate conceptually to the work you will develop at Masters level.

    • Reflect on any practical or conceptual connections you have already made to the museum, gallery and heritage sector, both through your studies and wider experience. What did you learn, find most surprising, and how did it improve your professional understanding of the sector?

    • What are your specific career aspirations for the future, on completing postgraduate studies – is there an aspect of the museum/gallery/heritage sector that particularly motivates and attracts you? Please explain why, and how your studies at Masters level will help you to achieve your aims.

Next steps

Qualified applicants may be invited to an interview.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular Schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Taught Postgraduate Team



UK: £12,000 (Total)

International: £25,250 (Total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans, scholarships and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.

The School offers a Head of School Excellence Scholarship (International) for international applicants. Find out about awards and scholarships.

Career opportunities

The course will equip you with a good understanding of the issues and approaches to art gallery and museum studies, as well as practical work experience – a combination which is very valuable to employers. You will also develop advanced skills in communication, research and analysis as well as cultural awareness.

Our graduates work as heads of collection, curators and education staff in local authority museums, for national heritage organisations like the National Trust, charitable trusts and in arts marketing and public relations.

A significant number choose to return to the School to complete a research degree and have secured scholarships to pursue their research topics, including Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarships. Former research students are now forging academic careers in the UK, Canada and the USA.

Through a combination of theory and practice, this Masters course produces graduates who are able to develop professional careers in the museums and heritage sector whilst retaining a critical and reflexive eye on their own practice and that of the institutions in which they work.

My course has equipped me with practical skills through the projects and placements, but also emotional skills through the group work, interactions and networking that make a huge part of the course.

- Lizzie Nolan, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies

Reach your potential

Hear more about the School and Faculty support you can access from our employability lead, Anna Douglas.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

You can sign up for a group placement project to gain first-hand experience of contemporary museum and gallery practice.

We have close links with many of the major cultural institutions and organisations in the region, meaning there are plenty of opportunities and themes across the sector for you to explore.

Alongside placement activities, you will receive guidance on key aspects of professional practice, in sessions which are frequently led by experienced museum staff.

Placement projects vary from year to year, but in the past our students have engaged on placement projects in collaboration with organisations including Abbey House Museum, Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Harewood House, Henry Moore Institute, Lotherton Hall, National Railway Museum, National Science and Media Museum, The Royal Armouries, York City Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Student profile: Rachel Noronha

I have learned how to market to a wider audience and have gained a greater understanding of researching, planning, and producing exhibitions through working with museums.
Find out more about Rachel Noronha's time at Leeds