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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

Durham University's unique MA in Museum and Artefact Studies will provide you with the high quality training relevant to a career in museums, the cultural heritage sector, and in the academic world. In particular, it is intended to equip you with a sound knowledge and critical understanding of current professional principles, good practice and contemporary debates relating to museum and artefact studies. It aims to help you develop a variety of skills: Professional skills, relevant to the care, management and exhibition of collections in museums Analytical skills, relevant to the study of a wide range of materials and artefacts, from different periods and cultures, and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives

Research skills, relevant to studies of museums and artefacts, including an awareness of current theoretical issues Communication skills - oral, written and visual - relevant to work in the museum profession and to academic research. It also aims to encourage you to take personal responsibility for your own learning, team-work and professional conduct.

Course structure

Two distinct routes can be followed through the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies. These comprise different combinations of modules.

Route 1

The first route is intended for those who firmly intend to pursue a career in museums and galleries. It comprises six compulsory taught modules: Debating Heritage and Museums; Museum Principles and Practice; Artefact Studies; Care of Collections; Museum; and Research Paper.

Route 2

The second route through the MA provides you with a different choice of modules. It is intended for those with a strong interest in artefact studies, who may wish to pursue a career in the cultural heritage sector or undertake further postgraduate research in museum or artefact studies after completing the MA course, but who also wish to keep their options open. It comprises four compulsory modules (one of which is a dissertation) and a choice of a fifth module which previously have included: Debating Heritage and Museums; Artefact Studies; Museum Principles and Practice; and a Dissertation. And either Museum Communication Or Care of Collections Or A module from the MA in Archaeology (e.g. Prehistory; Roman Archaeology; Medieval Archaeology; Post-Medieval Archaeology; or the Archaeology of Egypt, the Near East and India (when available).


The course is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical classes. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate in the Museums sector. Tutorials, seminars and workshops then provide opportunities for you to discuss and debate particular issues or areas, based on the knowledge that you have gained through your lectures and through independent study outside formal contact hours. Finally, practical classes allow you to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in Museum and Artefact Studies through placements and curating an exhibition and/or developing an educational programme for the University Museums.

The balance of these types of activities changes throughout the course, as you develop your knowledge and ability as independent learners , giving you the opportunity to engage in research, professional practice, and developing and demonstrating research skills in a particular area of the subject. The course aims to develop these key attributes thereby preparing you for work or further study once you have completed the course.

In Terms 1 and 2 you will typically attend 6-8 hours a week of lectures, up to 4 hours of tutorials or seminars, in addition to 2 workshops and 4-6 hours of practical sessions working with artefacts or museum environment-related matters as well as fieldtrips over the term. You will have a 20-day Museum placement at Easter in a museum or archive. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge. Professional speakers are brought in to engage the students with issues within the professional body.

In Term 3 the balance shifts from learning the basic skills required, to applying them within a real-life museum environment in the module Museum Communications where you will work in groups on a specific project(s) with an opening date in May, June or July. Typically, you could be spending the equivalent of a working week as you complete the work for your projects, under supervision.

The move towards greater emphasis on independent research and research continues in Term 3, where the use of research skills acquired earlier in the course are developed through the Dissertation research project or the Research Paper. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom they will typically have between 3 and 5 one-to-one supervisory meetings, you will undertake a detailed study of a particular area resulting in a significant piece of independent research. The Dissertation is regarded as a preparation for further academic work while the exhibition and Research Paper route is designed for a more professional environment.

Throughout the course, all students also have access to an academic adviser who will provide them with academic support and guidance. Typically you will meet your adviser two to three times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet on a ‘drop-in’ basis. The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which you are strongly encouraged to attend as well as Friends of the Oriental Museum events.

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.

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 2023-24 academic year must be received before October 2023).

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.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,300 per year
EU students £23,500 per year
Island students £11,300 per year
International students £23,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,300 per year
EU students £13,000 per year
Island students £6,300 per year
International students £13,000 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.

Department information


Our internationally respected research expertise will provide you with some of the best resources available for archaeological research. Here at Durham, we have one of only three commercial archaeology units in the UK based in a university department. You will be able to work with experts and have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and specialised facilities in the Department of Archaeology.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 8th in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Archaeology 2022
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see our Archaeology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 97% of our research outputs graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)
  • 2nd in the UK top ten for the overall quality of research (REF 2021)


We are one of the most comprehensively equipped archaeology departments in the UK. Our facilities include project rooms with state-of-the-art interactive technology, teaching laboratories, a computer suite, a photographic studio, internationally renowned scientific research laboratories in DNA, conservation, isotopes, environmental archaeology, luminescence dating, palaeopathology, soil and bone chemistry, and collections that support research in biometrics, informatics, and Anglo Saxon stone sculpture.

More information on our facilities and equipment.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day
Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day