UCL Qatar


Museum and Gallery Practice MA


Shifting Sands Exhibition

The MA in Museum and Gallery Practice is an immersive, hands-on programme providing students with the knowledge and professional skills required to become a future cultural leader locally in Qatar and internationally.

Students at the Shifting Sands Exhibition

The programme is unique in its focus on Qatar and the Arab world as well as more broadly on museums in non-western contexts. Key areas of museum theory and practice are taught, providing students with knowledge, understanding and skills in areas such as exhibition development, museum management as well as education and community engagement. The programme is designed to develop both critical thinking skills and core professional skills such as documentation and interpretation.

Students share knowledge and creative approaches with peers from diverse geographical, educational and professional backgrounds. Students enter this programme with a wide range of undergraduate qualifications, including: Art, Architecture, Archaeology, History, Photography, Social Science and Humanities.

Students also have the option to undertake a placement at a museum, gallery or cultural heritage organisation in Qatar, the region or internationally. This opportunity enables students to practically apply their academic knowledge, learn new methods and gain valuable work experience.

Course structure

This MA has a total value of 180 credits. Students take four compulsory modules (total 75 credits), optional modules (total 45 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

Compulsory Modules

Exhibition Project

This module explores how museums and galleries communicate with their audiences, and how they create meaning and 'knowledge' through their methods of communication and interpretation. The module teaches key skills such as text writing, project management, teamwork skills, exhibition design and evaluation. Students utilise their skills in an interpretation project which usually takes the form of an exhibition. The module is central to the degree, allowing students to put into practice learning outcomes from other modules. During term 1, the module will focus on developing key skills. In term 2, the students will focus on developing the exhibition, which will open towards the end of the term. The exhibition itself is a student led project and students are expected to work as a team and in a professional manner with outside partners to deliver an exhibition and associated programming to a professional standard. 

For further information on this student-led project, please see the UCL Qurates website

Back to Msheireb Exhibition Opening Night
Principles of Museum and Gallery Practice

The module introduces students to the history and theory of museum and gallery development and the formation of their collections. The module will explore the fundamental principles that underpin museums and galleries as institutions. It will consider the meaning and interpretation of objects and works of art and how these meanings and interpretations change and develop over time and from different perspectives. We will utilise case studies from museums and galleries in Europe, America and the Middle East, and will encourage discussion of the similarities and differences between the emerging museums in the Gulf and wider Middle East and the historical development of museums and current museological practice in Europe and the US. The module will encourage critical thinking in relation to the role of museums and galleries in shaping and presenting culture and identity at a local, national and transnational level. The module introduces the key strands and readings that underpin the MA programme, and encourages students to begin to think critically in general about all aspects of museum and gallery practice.

Museum Learning and Community Engagement

This core module examines the role of museum learning and its relationship to interpretation of collections through a study of learning theories and museum based practice. The course has a central practical element related to learning/education, as well as lectures covering education theory and relevant case studies. It also looks at current trends in the field and what that means for the museum education practitioner. The examination of theory is critical to understanding the motivations and learning styles of diverse audiences, whilst offering a framework for educational programming and other learning activities for visitors. In addition, this course explores interpretative programming in museums, partnerships with schools, and community programs. An overview of evaluation within museum education practice is included. Emphasis will be on aligning methodologies with theory to ensure quality of experience through a combination of lecture/seminar, study visit, group project and self directed study.

Collections Care and Management

This core module will examine in detail the care and management of museum collections. The aim of the course is to provide students with a solid foundation regarding theory and practice of collections care and management and it will cover a variety of topics, including documentation of objects and collections; collections management systems; agents of deterioration; environmental monitoring; evaluation of microenvironment and its effect on collections; preventive conservation; remedial conservation; pest management; risk assessment and management; disaster planning; security; managing loans; managing museum collections and storages; and widening access to collections.

On completion of the module the students will have a holistic understanding of the principles of collections care and management.


The dissertation is a piece of extended academic writing of 12,000 words. The dissertation element provides the students with the opportunity to pursue research according to an agenda of their own devising, on a topic relevant to the Master's degree and decided in discussion with the Degree and Module Coordinators in term 2. The Degree and Module Coordinators will advise on topics and suggest relevant supervisors and advisors. The dissertation allows students to utilise theoretical frameworks and methodologies learned through the Master's degree, to develop data analysis skills and to explore in detail relevant topics of personal interest. These topics may be related to their placement, their place of work, and may act as a starting point for further PhD research.

Optional Modules

Students have the opportunity to choose optional modules in specific areas of museum studies where they wish to specialise. The optional modules are taught by UCL Qatar academic staff with contributions from local, regional and international specialists.

All modules are subject to availability and demand.
Museum Management: Policies and Practice

This module aims to introduce students to the internal and external policies that govern museum operations and shape their managerial structures and practice, impacting significantly on how these institutions function and interact with local, regional or international communities. Students will be introduced to several issues of contemporary museum policy and management practice. The course will draw on theoretical and practice based academic research in this area of museum practice, as well as on the experience of museum practitioners working in Doha and beyond. Throughout the module students will be invited to reflect on the challenges and uncertainties that museums increasingly confront.

Debates in Contemporary Art Curation

The module introduces students to the contemporary global geography of art production and distribution and issues associated to its curation, in the region and internationally. Through focusing on a number of interrelated themes, the module explores current key debates in contemporary museum theory and practice. The aim of the module is to develop students' theoretical understanding of issues associated with the production, curation, display, distribution and reception of contemporary art in a number of art spaces, not only in art museums and galleries and art centres, but also in commercial art spaces and digital and distributed curatorial platforms. These themes will be discussed drawing on relevant developments in the contemporary art scene in Doha and the region, as well as on the experience of professionals to whose work the students will be exposed. The module will relate these local and regional developments to broader, present day global trends outside the Gulf region, in the 'West' and in other 'non- Western' countries.

Materials vs Culture

From the clothes we wear to the books we read and the buildings we live in, we spend our lives surrounded by things. We have museums, storerooms and shelves full of things and still we excavate, buy and acquire more. What does it all mean? Why do we do it? And how do we explain this to others? The Materials versus Culture module focuses on what we can learn from the physical object. This is contrasted with the body of material culture theory that has developed to help us understand both ancient and modern objects and how our interpretations may change because of context or a point in time. Each session is built around a different theoretical approach which is explored through hands on work with objects, pair/group discussion, and museum and site visits. Classwork includes handling objects and giving short informal and formal presentations. By the end of the module students will be able to handle and investigate a variety of different objects and have developed a critical awareness of a broad range of material culture theories. Students will be able to use this theory to help them interpret a variety of different things/spaces/ sites and communicate their ideas through both oral presentation and written text.

Digital Cultural Heritage

The digital cultural heritage module combines a critical and theoretical study of the role of digital media in the cultural heritage sector. The module aims to consider digital media holistically through its application and integration in heritage interpretation. It also aims to examine information and communication technologies from a cultural heritage perspective.

The module investigates cultural heritage policies and strategies in the context of the information society; the online version of the museum; the role of interactives and interactivity in exhibition spaces; and the use of mobile media and social software in order to personalise the visitor's/user's experience and enable an additional way of creating and communicating cultural heritage content.

This module covers topics such as writing for the Web, usability, accessibility and navigation of websites, virtual reality and context aware technologies, as well as authorship, sustainability, the semantic web, interoperability and reusability of digital content in the cultural heritage sector.


Students who do not have any professional experience are strongly recommended to take the Placement module, which will enable them to apply and further develop their learning and skills in the context of a real institution.

This module involves a 20 (working) day placement at a museum, gallery or similar heritage institution according to the students interest and the availability of placements. Typically the placements will be carried out in May/June of each year. They may take place in the student's home institution (if they are employed in a relevant institution), or in a different approved institution in Qatar or abroad.

For this module the student will be required to complete a project that will benefit the institution in which they are placed. The project can be connected to any area of museum/gallery work covered in the MA programme, including museum management, museum education, community engagement, exhibition making, museum interpretation, collections care and management, museum marketing, and digital technologies.

Previous work placements have included:
  • Barker Langham Cultural Consultancy, London, United Kingdom
  • Beirut Art Centre, Beirut, Lebanon
  • CoCA Centre on Contemporary Arts, Seattle, USA
  • Coffee Museum, Dubai, UAE
  • Daniel Ament Design Firm, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Emiri Diwan Al Bidda, Doha, Qatar
  • Firestation Gallery, Doha, Qatar
  • International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Katara Art Center, Doha Qatar
  • Media Majlis, Northwestern University, Doha, Qatar
  • Msheireb Museums, Doha, Qatar
  • Morris Hargreaves McIntyre Cultural Consultancy, London, United Kingdom
  • Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
  • National museum of Qatar, Doha, Qatar
  • Pines-Linea de Costa A.I.R, Spain
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
  • School for Curatorial Studies, Venice, Italy
  • The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA
  • The Migration Museum Project, London, United Kingdom
  • The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E
  • The National WW2 Museum, New Orleans, USA

Museum and Gallery Practice Work Placements

Student Life at UCL Qatar?


Fire Station Gallery

Museums are booming in Qatar and the region, and this programme provides unmatched opportunities to network with leading local museums and heritage professionals.

UCL Qatar is based at Education City, Doha, alongside a number of the world's most prestigious institutions. International students benefit from the unique cultural experience of studying in Qatar, where the diverse range of cultural and professional backgrounds ensures that unique perspectives are brought to classroom discussions.

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