In the 21st century, leading museums, galleries and heritage practice began to make use of socially engaged approaches. This course will examine the role of museums and practitioners in shaping society's understandings of contemporary issues, upholding values of inclusivity and accessibility, and ensuring that museums benefit their communities. Choosing to study Socially Engaged Practice in Museums and Galleries will give you access to leading research and practice on the impact that museums and galleries can have on advocating for social justice and human rights, and how they might better explore and address the contemporary issues that face our societies.
This course is based on research that has been undertaken over the last 15 years by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at Leicester, and draws on broader global shifts in practice. It will introduce you to cutting-edge examples of socially-driven professional practice and challenge you to think deeply about the role of culture in society and the characteristics of socially purposeful museums and galleries.
Over the course, you will engage critically and creatively with areas such as:
- partnership working
- participatory practices
- learning and education
- design and experience
- visitor studies and audience research
- leadership at all levels of an organisation
- how socially engaged practice can be embedded into the work of museums and galleries
You will gain a deeper understanding of the historical, current and emerging debates, theories, issues, techniques and practice in order to effectively develop and advocate for socially engaged practice in museums, galleries, and similar organisations. The course offers a platform to explore and experiment with ways of maximising the impact that museums and galleries can have on the wellbeing of communities, on civil debates around controversial topics, and on the building of fairer and more equal societies.
The course is delivered in a variety of ways, including online lectures, seminars, and tutorials, course readers which are posted to you, and discussion activities. There are also optional face-to-face sessions held each year. The programme is designed to fit around your existing commitments, and is sympathetically structured to allow you to break up the work into manageable chunks and focus on one assignment at a time.
The course is led by Professor Richard Sandell, a world-leading expert on the social role of museums. Richard’s research focuses on the potential for museums to support social justice and equality. He is especially interested in the emergence, over the past two decades, of an 'activist museum practice' (Sandell and Dodd 2010) and in exploring the social agency of museums and, in particular, their potential to tackle prejudice and engage audiences in debates pertaining to contemporary human rights.
You will receive high quality support from your module tutors and a personal tutor throughout your studies. In addition, we deliver one module of the course in partnership with a leading national museum service.
If you have any questions about this course, join us for a live online chat with academic tutors and admissions staff.
What's the difference?
If your dissertation concerns a science collection or museum, or if the nature of your investigation is 'scientific', you can receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree instead of a Master of Arts (MA) degree.
If you would like to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma you will complete all of the modules but not the dissertation.
If you would like to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate you will complete two modules of your choice.
You can also choose to complete one module or build up to a qualification over time.