Museum Studies

Student looking at MERL archivesWhy choose Museum Studies at Reading?

Combine Museum Studies with Archaeology and Classics to develop academic and professional skills. 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.

We help prepare you for the work place

The focus of Museum Studies is on the key employment skills of communication, analysis and engaging others. It includes an assessed work placement in one of the University’s museums or collections or elsewhere. A volunteer programme offers further opportunities to work alongside the University’s professional museum staff and to develop new skills. Assessed tasks include real-life museum procedures such as researching and cataloguing objects, mounting displays and planning and evaluating museum events. Students will also undertake work-related tasks such as presentations and report writing.

Our academic excellence

The new degree programme builds on the success of museum-based modules, which were introduced at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) in 2006 to enrich the University’s undergraduate learning. The modules enable students to improve their research skills with primary sources including objects and archives as well as undertake research with published materials. In feedback, students point to the value of applying museum theory to practice, with work-related tasks 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, education and marketing specialists and front of house staff, while their studies will be led by the Museum Studies Programme Director. 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 a Museum Studies specialist and practising museum professionals. Students will also be taught by colleagues from Archaeology and Classics. 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. Students undertake academic research and write essays. Tasks are based on real-life scenarios, which are supported and monitored through seminars and presentations. The programme includes a work-based placement. 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 ColeMuseum 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)

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