Museum Studies

Why choose Museum Studies at Reading?

Museum Studies at Reading takes you into the world of museums and on your first step towards a possible career in heritage. Students get to learn behind the scenes with professional staff at our three accredited campus museums. This hands-on degree can be combined with Archaeology or Classical Studies for a unique learning experience.

We help prepare you for the work place

Our degrees teach the core skills of curatorship and explore how museums engage with their audiences. Assessed tasks include real-life museum procedures such as researching and cataloguing objects, mounting displays and planning and evaluating museum events. You will also gain first-hand experience of museum work through volunteering, a placement module and a final year exhibition project. Reading is recognised internationally for the quality and distinctiveness of its museums and collections. Major investment over the past decade has created a rich environment of galleries and teaching spaces in which to learn and develop museum professional practice.

Our academic excellence

The new degree programme builds on the success of our museum-based modules, which were introduced in 2006. Teaching combines a solid grounding in museum theory, history, ethics and practice with innovative applied assesment activities. The modules enable students to improve their research skills with primary sources such as objects and archives, as well as undertake research with published materials. In feedback, students have told us how much they value of applying museum theory to practice and studying in the non-traditional learning space of the museum.

How we help our students’ development

Students learn from a range of museum professionals including curators and archivists, learning and marketing specialists and front of house staff, while their studies will be led by the Museum Studies Programme Director Dr Rhianedd Smith. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the different processes involved in running a museum and the ways these fit together. There will be visits to other local and national museums to learn about the wider sector.

Who will be teaching you and how?

Sessions are taught by Dr Rhianedd Smith in collaboration with practising museum professionals. Year groups are small (up to 20 students) and there is an emphasis on developing team-working and task management skills during all three years. Tasks are based on real-life scenarios, which are supported and monitored through seminars and presentations. The programme includes a work-based placement and assessment is mainly coursework-based.

Students examining pieces from our objects collectionCourse Content

1st year

  • Museum communication and interpretation
  • Museum history, policy and ethics

2nd year

  • Museum learning and engagement
  • Curatorship and collections management
  • Assessed placement

3rd year

  • Display design

The Ure Museum of Greek ArchaeologyFacilities that enrich the student experience

There are three university museums; MERL, the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology and the Cole Museum of Zoology. The University also holds important botanical and geological collections, literary archives and major 20th century print and design collections.

Examples of course materials


‘At the Museum of English Rural Life we practised researching and cataloguing objects from the collections, then designing a display for them, informed by exhibition design principles. I enjoyed hearing from museum professionals and undertaking a real-life museum task.’   David Weir, recent Reading graduate


For BA Museum Studies and Archaeology apply through the Department of Archaeology

For BA Museum and Classical Studies apply through the Department of Classics


 Download the 'Why Choose Museum Studies at Reading?' leaflet (pdf 763 KB)

Things to do now

  • Visit the Department of Archaeology
  • Visit the Department of Classics
  • Find out about the University's Museums and Special Collections
  • Find out more about studying at Reading

Contact Isabel Hughes

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