MC2LE-Museum Learning and Engagement

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:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Rhi Smith


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module critically examines the learning role of museums in society. Students are introduced to learning theory, programme and event management, while also learning about resource design, evaluation, and visitor research. During the course students will hear from museum-based learning and engagement professionals and observe and evaluate learning resources and events. Interactive lectures, seminars and museum visits encourage students to contextualise and apply learning. Work is assessed through design and planned evaluation of a learning resource, evaluation of an educational event, and an analysis of a museum's learning programme.

During the past few decades the museums' role as a centre of learning and engagement has become as important as object custodianship and collection. This module explores museum learning and engagement in theory and practice. It introduces students to some central issues and processes which shape the role of museums in modern society.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students will be able to:
- analyse the learning and public programme of a national museum
- plan and carry out the design and three-stage evaluation of a learning resource
- evaluate the aims and effectiveness of a museum education event

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop project management skills since the three coursework tasks are best undertaken in parallel rather than successively. Observation, interviewing and recording skills will be developed through analysis of displays, events and learning resources. Materials design skills will also be practiced.

Outline content:
“Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment” (Museums Association 1998). It is the responsibility of every museum to make collections accessible and relevant to a variety of audiences and stakeholders. Displays are only part of this, an astonishing range of learning events and activities take place in museums. This module introduces students to the theories and procedures which are central to planning, designing, and evaluating learning events and resou rces. It also looks at audience outreach and targeted programming for core audiences such as families or schools. Students will be introduced to a range of different models for learning and engagement, and examine the logistical and theoretical questions which underpin this aspect of museum work. They will also explore the role of marketing, networking, research and social media in designing a successful event. The module teaches basic audience research skills and examines some techniques for b reaking down barriers to inclusion.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is taught in a campus museum and draws on the expertise of professional museum staff. Interactive lectures are used to introduce student to the practical and theoretical concepts which underpin all learning in museums. Seminars will provide the opportunity to develop new skills such as questionnaire design and data analysis, and will also be used to discuss and check progress on coursework tasks. Assignments are based around real world case studies and tasks. Through these assignmen ts student will learn how to evaluate programmes, events and resources from a visitor-centred perspective.

This is a 20 credit module, which means that it is intended to occupy you for 200 hours of work. With that in mind the kind of workload you should expect might be as follows:
- 20 hours: Contact hours in formal teaching sessions.
- 2 hours: Workshops at MERL.
- 1 hour: Project supervision in a small group (5 or less) to help you develop and refine your assign ment.
- 10 hours: Evaluating learning events.
- 20 hours: External visits. You are expected to visit local museums (e.g. the River and Rowing Museum in Henley) to gather ideas and evaluate design.
- 15 hours: To be spent in the Galleries/Stores/Archive of your chosen museum researching the topic for your assignment.
- 70 hours: Background reading.
- 62 hours: Preparation and writing up your assignments

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Project Supervision 1
Practicals classes and workshops 2
Supervised time in studio/workshop 15
Fieldwork 10
External visits 20
Guided independent study: 132
Total hours by term 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 90
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

10% A 10 minute presentation with 2 side handout analysing the learning and engagement programme for a national museum. 30% A 1000 word essay analysing a museum learning event. 60% Design an educational resource and an accompanying three-stage evaluation, 2000 word essay.

Formative assessment methods:

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 assignments in August/September

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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