Curating Collections: Critical Approaches

Explore curating and collecting in museum and heritage contexts to consider opportunities, challenges, and alternative futures.

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Key facts

  • Module codeHERPP06
  • Start date 22 Jan 2024
  • Application deadline8 Jan 2024
  • Duration12 weeks (one semester)
  • Days on campus11
  • Time commitment200 hours
  • Credit value SCQF 20 credits
  • SCQF level Level 11
  • Fees Scotland, England, Wales, NI and RoI: £1,011, International: £2,289
  • Mode of study part time
  • Delivery on campus


Curating collections is central to museum and heritage organisations. This short course introduces select aspects of the history, theory, and practice of curating collections. Drawing on perspectives from different institutional, disciplinary, and regional examples, you will consider the social and other roles of curating collections in the 21st century.

This will enable you to address core concepts and debates related to curating collections, such as representativeness, meaning-making, value and significance, object agency, and affect. Alongside developing a critical understanding of the possibilities for and challenges of curating collections, you will assemble and report on your own ‘micro-collection’. This short course is aimed at those who wish to explore topical themes and current perspectives to deepen their critical engagement with this core aspect of museum and heritage studies and practice.

Flexible learning

This short course forms part of the MSc Heritage. You can study other stand-alone continuing professional development (CPD) short courses from this degree:

If you’re interested in studying more than one module from this course, please email our Admissions team at to discuss your course of study.

Entrance requirements

Your Honours degree or equivalent should be in a relevant subject. Ideally, students should have a 2:1 or above in their first degree. We will consider students with a 2:2, but the programme is not recommended for those with a low or borderline 2:2 (or equivalent) in their first degree.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 56 overall with a minimum of 51 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.


This module will enable you to:

  1. Demonstrate familiarity with aspects of the history, theory, and practice of curating collections.
  2. Understand that curating and collecting shapes how people relate to objects and invest them with significance, meaning, and value.
  3. Apply comparative insight from exploring different institutional, disciplinary and regional settings to critically interrogate philosophies and procedures of curating collections in museums and heritage.
  4. Offer an informed response to the future of curating collections by evaluating how these practices can adapt and contribute to addressing global present-day challenges.
  5. Critically analyse the social, economic, political, and cultural ‘work’ of curating collections in past and present-day society.

Structure and content

Each week there will be a thematic seminar that requires reading and preparation (including viewing of recorded content) in advance. With particular attention to contemporary collecting, some of the other indicative topics include contexts for collecting (past and present), infrastructures of collecting, curating profusion, collections beyond museums, and vibrant collections.

Delivery and assessment

The module is delivered through a blend of learning content accessed through the University Portal and in-person seminars on campus. Seminars will use small-group discussions, guest speakers, and are enhanced through a field trip. The module will be assessed by means of a 20% recorded presentation on contemporary collecting and an 80% written report based on your own ‘micro-collection’.

Assessments evaluate knowledge of key concepts, inclusion and use of critical scholarship, and construction of arguments, amongst other skills.

Module coordinator

Jennie Morgan


The module is designed to promote a critical understanding of the role of curating collections in the past and present. It will enhance knowledge and skills for employability in museum, heritage and related sectors by equipping students to consider the role of curating collections in responding to diverse global challenges, from community building and inclusion to decolonisation and sustainability.

What next?

Contact us

If you have any questions about entry requirements for our continuing professional development and short courses, contact our Admissions team.

For all other questions, please use our enquiry form.