MC2BM-Break into the Museum: Work Placement

Module Provider: The Museum of English Rural Life
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Rhi Smith


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module consists of an assessed work placement of at least 70-hours in a museum. A series of workshops and tasks will prepare students to get the most from their placement. Students will be assessed on two written tasks and a presentation reflecting critically on knowledge and skills acquired during the placement and on the museum or collection where they have been based. The placement provider will also write a report on their performance during the placement.

Students will undertake a 70 hour assessed work placement at a museum off campus during term-time. This can be taken either as a two week block or in another more flexible format e.g. 1 day a week for 10 weeks. The placement will be timetabled to meet the needs of both the student and placement provider. Skills practiced will vary according to the placement but may include tasks such as digitising collections, cataloging and archiving, and helping to run educational activity sessions.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module students will:
-have increased their knowledge of museum specific professional networks, resources, training structures, and career specialisms.
-have developed work related skills identified at the start of the placement.
-be able to critically evaluate their learning from the placement.

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop work-related skills such as time management and interpersonal skills through being part of a workforce. They will make contacts in the museum or collection where they are based. Oral and written communication skills will be enhanced through the presentation and through assignments and placement tasks.

Outline content:
What happens 'behind the scenes’ in museums? People may perceive museum work as being solely concerned with arranging and caring for objects, or as dry and dusty. This module helps students to test their assumptions about what museum work is like and is a key part of their careers development.

Students will apply museum theory in practice and explore the gaps between ideal and day-to-day practice. Before the placement students will undertake research into the museums sector. They wi ll review a selection of the professional resources available to an individual starting work in their placement area (for example, professional staff, articles and web-based advice). This will guide them as they undertake a ‘forward analysis’, setting out skills which they hope to learn or develop. During the placement students will keep a work log. They will draw on both these documents in writing a reflective report on the placement. In order to practice assessing the broader situation of t he museum or collection where they are based, they will undertake a SWOT analysis.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There are several workshop sessions held over the Autumn and Spring term.

1.An introductory two-hour seminar to introduce students to the module and the assessment tasks. Students will learn how to find placements and get an introduction to possible resources which will help them plan their placement. (Week 1 Autumn Term)
2.A two-hour tour of UMASCS where staff with different specialisms will introduce students to their line of work (Week 2 Autumn Term)
3.A two hour w orkshop in which students will learn how to plan their own museum sector career development and undertake research into sector specific support for emerging professionals (Week 3 Autumn Term)
4.One-on-one drop in tutorials in Autumn and Spring term to discuss any issues.
5.3 hour workshop halfway through the placements during which students will report back on their experiences during the placement. This seminar session will include feedback from the tutor and other students and will help students in completing their placement report (Spring Term)
6.3 hour student presentations of a SWOT analysis on the placement provider, to be scheduled after the placements are finished.

Otherwise the module consists of independent working in a museum or collection. A staff member in each museum will supervise students and a member of academic staff will be available to answer student queries regarding academic aspects of the assessment and coursework tasks. Stude nts will be responsible for managing their own coursework.

This is a 20 credit module which means that it should take up 200 hours of your time. During the 93 hours of independent study time students will be expected to divide their time roughly between the following activities:
- 10 hours researching, planning and organising placement with host organisation.
- 30 hours Read around the subject matter of placement museum and review internal training and policy documents in order to assist with the completion of core tasks.
-20 hours Undertake research into current developments in the museum sector (with specific focus on host organisation) e.g. funding bodies, professional organisations, sector news, current policy.
-33 hours Reading, preparation, writing up and proof reading assignments.
-plus an extra 21 hours of visiting other museums for comparison.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 2
Tutorials 1 1
Practicals classes and workshops 6 6
External visits 21
Placement 70
Guided independent study: 93
Total hours by term 193 7
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Report 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

50% 2500 word career portfolio including self-assessment, career planning, and job application activities.

40% 2000 word placement report demonstrating learning and skills acquired during the placement (including placement provider's report on student's placement performance).

10% 10 minute oral presentation with handout covering two side of A4. SWOT analysis on the placement provider and its current place in the sector’

Formative assessment methods:
Students will use a range of online resources to collect and analyse information on entry level positions in the museum sector in order to draw up a list of key specialisms and core skills. This will be fed back via a poster session.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework in August

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 4 April 2020


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