MC1AM-Analysing Museum Displays

Module Provider: The Museum of English Rural Life
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Ms Rebecca Reynolds


Summary module description:
This module explores and analyses the ways in which museums communicate, focusing on displays and display spaces but also including architecture and text and graphics. Students take part in lectures, seminars and museum visits and work is assessed through a learning journal, coursework essay and exam.

Museum display environments are the product of a complex process of design, curatorship and interpretation. This module uses museological theory and practice to question the way that museums communicate with the public. Bt provides students with the analytical and research skills needed to independently critique museum spaces and their principal components (architecture, text, graphics, display configurations etc).

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the theory and practice informing museum exhibitions
- Make clear and concise observations and analyses of museum displays
- Present these observations and analyses in structured writing
- Reflect on their learning during the course and on the processes of group work, time management and research skills development

Additional outcomes:
Through planning groupwork students will develop their project management and networking skills. Oral and written communication skills will be enhanced through presenting work in progress, and seminar discussions.

Outline content:
The module will begin by exploring the range of display styles which museums use, leading into an analysis of the ways in which museum environments affect our understanding of objects. We address the role of architecture, three-dimensional design and text and graphics in displays. There will be opportunities to study exhibitions within the different campus museums and the Museum of Reading; this will provide first-hand experience of the different, often contrasting, display styles that are used in museums. Museological theory will be used to inform debates about the role of the museum.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will be taught in the Museum of English Rural Life. Lectures will give an introduction to the theoretical background of material culture and museum studies. Lectures will be interactive and include contributions from MERL education and curatorial staff, who will connect their areas of expertise to wider issues regarding museum communication. Seminars will provide the opportunity to discuss elements of lectures and will also be used to discuss and monitor progress on coursework tasks. Assignments require students to apply museum theory to museum displays and are designed to engage students in the process of research. Students will be responsible for the management of their own assignments.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9
Seminars 8
External visits 3
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:

Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 40
Portfolio 10

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
Students will receive feedback on their progress in seminars. There is an initial unassessed task to familiarise students with groupwork and with MERL.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

    Length of examination:
    One hour

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

    Last updated: 20 September 2012

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