Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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The course has taken me beyond my initial interest in art galleries and museums to another level of critical understanding of their function and purpose in society. The knowledge, confidence and experience I have gained has been invaluable.

Anna Wiebe, MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies 2008Associate Art Educator of Adult Programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canada

MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies

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

Through the course, students develop critical understandings of the histories of art galleries and museums and explore and challenge key ideas that have shaped museum practice. Students will also deploy these historical and theoretical understandings to develop innovative approaches to curation, interpretation and engaging audiences.

You will develop practical skills through working on an interpretation project in our archives and collections on campus, and undertaking a negotiated work placement. 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 will 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 through to nine council-run 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.

Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage

All students on the degree become members 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:

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 in art galleries and museums. 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 that explore contemporary curatorial strategies, technologies and media, cultural memory and material culture.

In Interpretations, you will work on a interpretative intervention with one of the archives and collections on campus. This experience prepares you for the option of undertaking a negotiated work placement or optional modules exploring audiences, participation or engagement in semester 2.

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 contemporary art, heritage, participation and the digital – you will develop your own mini-research project which prepares you for your MA dissertation.

Through our Advanced Research Skills modules, you are equipped to undertake assessments and ultimately develop your own research project. The modules build to a symposium in semester 2 where you can present initial research findings towards a dissertation on a research topic of interest.

The optional module Placements in Context: Policy, Organisations and Practice supports you to undertake a placement with one of our many art gallery and museum partners. Previous students have completed placements at Harewood House, the Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield and the Royal Armouries, as well as many other organisations in Leeds and beyond.

If you choose to study part-time, you will study over two calendar years and take fewer modules each year. It is expected that part-time students 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.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Advanced Research Skills 1 5 credits
  • Advanced Research Skills 2 5 credits
  • Interpretations 15 credits
  • Critical Issues 15 credits
  • History and the Museum: Representation, Narrative and Memory 30 credits
  • Dissertation for the MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies 50 credits

Optional modules

  • Jewish Museums and the Display of Cultural Difference 30 credits
  • Unfinished Business: Trauma, Cultural Memory and the Holocaust 30 credits
  • Movies, Migrants and Diasporas 30 credits
  • Intersecting Practices: Questioning the Intersection of Contemporary Art and Heritage 30 credits
  • Art & Money: the modern and contemporary art markets 30 credits
  • Encountering Things: Art and Entanglement in Anglo-Saxon England 30 credits
  • Anthropology, Art and Representation 30 credits
  • Humanity, Animality and Globality 30 credits
  • Placements in Context: Policy, Organizations and Practice 30 credits
  • Audience Engagement and Impact 30 credits
  • Derrida and Deconstruction 30 credits

Learning and teaching

You will be taught by leading researchers and experienced practitioners in their fields, and you will benefit from a range of teaching and learning methods. They include lectures and seminars, gallery and museum visits, as well as hands-on experience of specific collections in library sessions.

You will also learn from practical experience when you undertake your work placement, and a variety of external speakers will give you an insight into contemporary practice in the sector. Independent study is an important element of the degree, allowing you to develop your research and critical skills.

As part of the course, students are encouraged to build a portfolio of project work to support future job applications.


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. Professional experience will also be considered.

It is expected that all applicants have some form of experience in an appropriate field prior to entry onto the degree. This could be in the form of volunteer work. Please contact the School if you would like to check your experience against our entry requirements.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information please contact the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies admissions team.

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).

If you need to study for longer than 10 weeks, read more about our postgraduate pre-sessional English course.

How to apply

This link 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
  • Two academic references
  • A personal statement
  • Evidence of your English language qualifications if English is not your first subject.
  • You may also choose to submit a CV.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy 2019


UK/EU: £9,000 (total)

International: £19,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

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

Part-time fees 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 about additional costs

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 and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

Through a combination of theory and practice, the programme 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.

It 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 now 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 have also returned as research students 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.

The National Heritage Training Group provides further information about careers in museums, heritage and conservation.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats 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 at the Careers website.

Placement opportunities

In Semester 2 you can undertake a negotiated work placement 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 for you to explore. If you have a particular ambition in mind for your placement, we usually try to find a role that suits you.

Throughout your placement, you will return to the classroom each week to consider key aspects of professional practice, in sessions which are frequently led by experienced museum staff.

Students have completed placements in organisations such as Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Harewood House, the Henry Moore Institute, National Science and Media Museum, York City Art Gallery, National Railway Museum, Impressions Gallery, The Tetley, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Lotherton Hall, Abbey House Museum and the Royal Armouries.

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