Institute of Archaeology


Collections Curatorship

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the core skills of a curator.

The core skills of a curator include understanding objects and how to research them, and to understand collections and the added meaning that forming objects into collections and articulating them in exhibitions can create. The module provides an opportunity for students to acquire such skills through working in groups on object research and documentation projects. Objects for research are drawn from UCL's museum collections, and research groups benefit from the curatorial support of UCL Museums & Collections staff as well as a series of workshops and lectures focusing on different curatorial skills. As with the Museum Studies MA programme as a whole, the module aims to combine academic rigour with professional skills training.


On successful completion of the module students should:

  • Understand how to conduct object- and collections-based research
  • Be familiar with the appropriate methodologies for researching collections
  • Have acquired skills required to conduct research on different kinds of collections
  • Have gained experience assembling and articulating collections as part of the exhibition development process
  • Have acquired key team-working and project-management skills

Learning Outcomes

As a result of the module, students should:

  • Understand what is meant by 'curatorship', and what the role of curator includes
  • Be able to take responsibility for a collection with confidence
  • Be able to research an object
  • Be able to facilitate and promote the use of collections as a resource by everyone in the museum through working productively with other specialist colleagues
  • Be able to work successfully in a team
  • Be able to articulate objects and develop exhibition concepts using collections
  • Be conversant with the practices of contextualising museum collections
  • Have a working familiarity with UCL's museums and collections

Teaching methods

The module provides an opportunity for students to acquire key curatorial and object-based research skills through group and individual research projects. Research projects are supported by a series of workshops, which include lectures, discussions, research progress meetings, and demonstrations. Group research projects are further supported by a series of 'curatorial surgeries' convened by UCL's curatorial staff. Students are expected to undertake a considerable amount of self-directed learning through contributing to group research projects and working individually on their own exhibition development projects. The module builds upon skills acquired in Term 1 Museum Studies modules, especially The Museum: Critical Perspectives and Collections Management and Care.

Module information

  • Code: ARCL0132 
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Rodney Harrison
  • Prerequisite: There are no prerequisites for this module. It is a Term 2 option available only to MA Museum Studies students (it is generally expected that students will have taken ARCL0092 and ARCL0181).
  • Handbook: open»

For registered students


  • Running in 2020-21