Teaching & Learning Portal


Introduction to object-based learning

Why it works and how to get started

Dodo bones, original manuscripts and Roman sandals are not just priceless treasures tucked away in UCL's museums and special collections; they are invaluable educational tools.

With five collections open to the public, prized literary and art collections and a growing digital library at its disposal, UCL enjoys a unique position from which to promote object-based learning (OBL) in its teaching.

The benefits

Using objects in teaching can develop core skills including teamwork, evidence-based learning and communication, as well as key research skills such as data collection and analysis, practical observation and drawing skills, literature review techniques and subject-specific knowledge. It can also trigger innovative dissertation topics.

Opportunities at UCL

Expert curators at UCL have created a wide range of ready-made projects, and they are keen to develop customised sessions for departments to give more access to the collections. Object-based learning resources at UCL include:

A great place to start. The Museums Moodle page provides a wealth of resources including quick guides, case studies, slide shows and searchable online databases of UCL collections.

All of UCL’s museums and collections can be used to support learning. Visit the Museums & Collections pages to learn about what resources are available and to select a collection to visit.

With help from JISC, a range of UCL objects have been presented in digital formats for use as teaching resources. The range includes collections of anatomical drawings, high-resolution portraits and artwork related to the French Revolution.

Case Studies - Object-based learning

Using museum collections to improve the student experience

Dr Alice Stevenson (Curator, UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology) explains how two undergraduate internships at one of the university’s museums have helped staff to explore how learners of any discipline might engage with object-based research and learning.

Published: Jun 15, 2016 4:11:21 PM

Using museum artwork to teach cardiac anatomy

George Richards (UCL Public and Cultural Engagement) shares what happened when students learned about the heart through two watercolours painted by a UCL professor of surgery and artist.

Published: Feb 24, 2016 1:44:43 PM

'Mystery specimen' project

Dr Helen Chatterjee, Senior Lecturer in Biology and Deputy Director of Museums, explains why there are so many puzzled-looking students in the Grant Museum of Zoology.

Published: Aug 9, 2014 3:13:00 PM