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Our Programme

Look behind the scenes.

Understand the complexities of Museums.

Gain practical experience.

Museum Studies at HKU is the only programme in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area organised as a single track with compulsory and elective courses that provide students the opportunity to specialise in various aspects of museology.

 

All students will take the core course, Studying Museums: The Historical Development, Ongoing Purpose, and Ever-Developing Functions of Museums (MUSE7001), and four elective courses before writing an academic dissertation and engaging in practical internships. In completing their studies, students will develop competencies in organising and managing cultural institutions, caring for collections, and communicating and engaging with the public.

 

This newly acquired knowledge will provide a solid foundation for working in museums, galleries, and heritage sites, as well as private galleries and auction houses. Employers will benefit from employees with competencies enhanced by training in understanding complex organisations and work processes, handling valuable historical objects and archival materials, and creating public displays and educational programmes with sensitivity and authority.

 

In addition to fulfilling academic ambitions, students will benefit from unparalleled exposure to colleagues and cultural institutions, as well as workshops, lectures, and internships, paving the way for advancement in the professional job market. The course supports students who are interested or already working in the fields of education, leisure, culture, and tourism—core sectors of the emerging local economy and important global sectors. The internships will be professional work placements that serve practically as first jobs which may lead to paid employment.

 

The rigor of the new programme will also prepare students for doctoral research by developing their understanding of theoretical and methodological aspects of the discipline and scholarly writing. Graduates from the MA may continue their doctoral research at HKU or join overseas PhD programmes. Important components include the opportunities students have to study a focused programme with scholars in their field and to engage with a postgraduate community at HKU, as well as with professionals in the region and abroad.

Programme Structure

To obtain the 60 credits, the MA curriculum comprises five semester-long courses, a dissertation, and an internship distributed in the following way: 

 

1 required core course (9 credits) 

4 elective MA courses (9 credits each) 

1 MA dissertation (9 credits) 

1 Internship (6 credits) or 1 elective cross listed with taught postgraduate (6 credits) or undergraduate course (6 credits)

 

All instruction is conducted in English and assessments are based entirely on coursework, which may include discussions, oral presentations, research essays, and various forms of short writing assignments. 

 

Courses

Core Course

MUSE7001. Studying Museums: The Historical Development, Ongoing Purpose and Ever-developing Functions of Museums (Core Course)

MUSE7001. Studying Museums: The Historical Development, Ongoing Purpose and Ever-developing Functions of Museums (Core Course)

 

This core course examines a range of themes, problems, and issues in past and contemporary museum practices. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with the ways scholars and practitioners have helped develop individual collections and whole museums, how they have brought purpose to public institutions and in which ways they serve functions that advance the vision and fulfil the mission of cultural institutions; and assess how theories based on other historical experiences can be used to analyse museums and the ways they adopt strategies to adapt to changing times and evolving requirements. Students will develop the skills necessary for the organizational structure of museums and the roles within; and understand the characteristics of different cultural institutions and how they work together and benefit one another. They will acquire the knowledge required to pursue independent research and draft an effective dissertation research proposal; and learn to use scholarly citations properly and in accordance with disciplinary standards and conventions.

Assessment: 100% coursework

Electives 

MUSE7002. Museums and Curatorial Strategies (9 credits) 

MUSE7002. Museums and Curatorial Strategies (Elective Course)

 

This course offers a rich introduction as well as critical analysis of different curatorial philosophies and artistic and academic developments that lead to exhibition projects. The aim is to create a good fundamental knowledge of different project types, their development and purpose to gain confidence in initiating and researching exhibition topics – be this in collaboration with artists or by studying museum collections. Both the sources of display material and its character are important to practice visual and oral communication techniques that do the exhibited material justice, adhere to ethical and legal standards, and deliver a project that is educational and accessible, and fully appropriate and beneficial to the community it is curated for.  

Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7004. Museum Education and Community Engagement (9 credits) 

MUSE7004. Museum Education and Community Engagement (Elective Course)

 

Building upon the previous two courses, this class offers insights into the importance of public education and community engagement. Essential to any public cultural institution is its outreach programme and the varied strategies employed to cater to the needs, imagination and educational practices used to entertain, educate and stimulate academic thinking, social behaviour and – in museums – historical and scientific learning. The course introduces different forms of engagement, mass and specialised programmes and the philosophies that connect and enrich individual cultural events. Although taught with museums in mind, the learning outcomes include enhance interpretation and communication skills, and community-centred think about inclusivity and equality.

Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7006. Provenance Research and Ethic: Recognising the Cultural Origins and Legal Ownership of Art in Museums (9 credits)

MUSE7006. Provenance Research (Elective Course)

 

This course highlights the relationship between art history, the history of collecting and provenance research. The focus will be on the need for clarity concerning the ownership history of collection items, and the legal and ethical engagement with the community from which museum objects arrive, the fair and unbiased communication of their origins and the sensible handling, preservation and presentation, also of indigenous and religious objects. Students will learn about international and local government regulations and the ongoing practices concerning restitution and repatriation. Different circumstances under which objects were acquired will be studied and the diverse, also contrasting, opinions that guide present-day cultural institutions and their dealings with foreign cultural heritage will be analysed.

Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7008. The Art of Storytelling (9 credits)  

MUSE7008. The Art of Storytelling (Elective Course) 
 
This course explores cultural aspects of visual narrative imagery from China to the Mediterranean world. Using cross-cultural comparisons across time and in different cultural contexts, we will explore how pictorial narrative scenes were produced, presented and received by their audiences. Topics range from the animal-combat scenes at Persepolis to the fantastic beasts on the Shang and Zhou ritual bronzes, from the first emperor’s terra cotta warriors to the royal hunt on the Sassanian Silver, from the Greek beech-nut gold jewelry to Venetian glass and its modern legacy. In the exercise of creating and writing exhibits that do more than just present information, we will explore issues of representation, narrative, space, gender, monumentality, ideology and politics as well as technology and materials, and develop an argument about word and image.
Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7010. Out of the Ordinary: Contemporary Events shaping the Cultural Sector (9 credits)

MUSE7010. Out of the Ordinary: Contemporary Events shaping the Cultural Sector (Elective Course) 

This course will be closely connected to the other course in this programme and present each week different hot topics related to the voluntary and involuntary evolution of the cultural sector and current affairs influencing both the internal work and outward-facing presentation at art, archaeological and related cultural institutions.
Assessment: 100% coursework
 

MUSE7008. The Art of Writing (Elective Course) 

 

This course explores cultural aspects of visual narrative imagery from China to the Mediterranean world. Using cross-cultural comparisons across time and in different cultural contexts, we will explore how pictorial narrative scenes were produced, presented and received by their audiences. Topics range from the animal-combat scenes at Persepolis to the fantastic beasts on the Shang and Zhou ritual bronzes, from the first emperor’s terra cotta warriors to the royal hunt on the Sassanian Silver, from the Greek beech-nut gold jewelry to Venetian glass and its modern legacy. In the exercise of creating and writing exhibits that do more than just present information, we will explore issues of representation, narrative, space, gender, monumentality, ideology and politics as well as technology and materials, and develop an argument about word and image.


Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7012. Public History and Museums (9 credits)

MUSE7012. Public History and Museums (Elective Course) 

This course will focus on the important tasks, opportunities and challenges museums have to research, define, display and teach history. As highly trusted public institutions, museums are confided to represent a true and balanced analysis of the historical facts and a fair perception of the past and present importance of the cultures they explain and exhibit. With political and societal change, museums have been seen as authorities displaying in just statements and yet, they can be challenged to adapt to changing regimes and perceptions.
Assessment: 100% coursework
 

MUSE7008. The Art of Writing (Elective Course) 

 

This course explores cultural aspects of visual narrative imagery from China to the Mediterranean world. Using cross-cultural comparisons across time and in different cultural contexts, we will explore how pictorial narrative scenes were produced, presented and received by their audiences. Topics range from the animal-combat scenes at Persepolis to the fantastic beasts on the Shang and Zhou ritual bronzes, from the first emperor’s terra cotta warriors to the royal hunt on the Sassanian Silver, from the Greek beech-nut gold jewelry to Venetian glass and its modern legacy. In the exercise of creating and writing exhibits that do more than just present information, we will explore issues of representation, narrative, space, gender, monumentality, ideology and politics as well as technology and materials, and develop an argument about word and image.


Assessment: 100% coursework

MLIM6203. Digital collection (6 credits)

MLIM6203. Digital collection (Elective Course)

 

This course introduces the goals for the digital collection and curation of cultural objects, such as physical or born-digital books, documents, or artworks within cultural heritage institutions like galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. It examines various issues of digital collection development, such as digitisation, object types and digital formats, access strategies and interfaces, metadata and interoperability, public engagement and outreach, ethical issues, economic and social policies, and collections management and evaluation of online exhibit systems.

MLIM6210. Preservation of information in a digital age (6 credits)

MLIM6210. Preservation of information in a digital age (Elective Course)

 

This course explores the physical nature of materials and the causes of their deterioration. It evaluates techniques for promoting longevity, such as environmental control, proper storage and handling practices, data warehousing, and reformatting. Preservation planning, disaster planning, and recovery are also addressed. Additionally, students are introduced to the conservation and preservation of archive materials in the digital age, as well as digitisation program management and technologies.

MLIM6311. E-learning strategies and management (6 credits)

MLIM6311. E-learning strategies and management (Elective Course)

 

This course will address the design and management of e-learning courses to effectively engage learners. The explosive growth of e-learning in recent years has created a need for exploring important issues relevant to e-learning design in both school and organisational contexts. Participants will be introduced to six specific types of learning: (a) factual knowledge, (b) conceptual knowledge, (c) critical thinking ability, (d) problem-solving, (e) procedural learning, and (f) attitude change. The course will investigate various instructional strategies that promote the mastery of each aforementioned type of learning. Additionally, the course will discuss strategies for motivating students in e-learning contexts.

MNPM7005. Strategic management of nonprofit organisations (6 credits)

MNPM7005. Strategic management of nonprofit organisations (Elective Course)

 

This course focuses on leadership and the management of nonprofit organisations in the current context of resource scarcity and the blurring of boundaries between the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. With increasing emphasis on corporate social responsibility and collective shareholding in for-profit businesses, students will examine case studies of effective businesses and witness the transformation of corporations, empowering them to appreciate change management in an ever-shifting socio-economic environment. The course aims to provide the necessary perspectives and tools for executing high-impact strategy, including conceptual frameworks for understanding high-impact organisations and the role of strategic leadership; analytical tools for developing and evaluating strategy; issues surrounding succession planning; risk assessment; systems thinking and sustainability; approaches to working with stakeholders to mobilise commitment; and methods for leading change and achieving goals.

HIST3065. Workshop in historical research (6 credits)

HIST3065. Workshop in historical research (Elective Course)

 

The research skills and methodologies used by historians are based on the critical analysis of primary and secondary sources. Competency in these skills and an acquaintance with the various methodologies of the historian are central to advanced studies in the historical discipline, but these skills and methodologies are also highly transferable to the workplace. ln this course, students will work in small groups on a research project. Learning will be through directed group discussions and coordinated individual research tasks. The course will introduce students to a wide range of historical sources, equip them with the skills to analyze and interpret those sources, and will also encourage students to develop leadership and team-work roles in solving real historical problems.

Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSE7003. Languages of an Exhibition: Curatorial Practices and Exhibition Design    (9 credits)

MUSE7003.     Languages of an Exhibition: Curatorial Practices and Exhibition Design (9 credits)

In this course, the individual elements of an exhibition are presented, from research to the first draft, from planning, calculation, production to the process, documentation and follow-up.  How can important contemporary issues be transferred to exhibitions?  Which languages of the exhibition (associative, explorative, narrative, etc.) are used?  Which media should be used and what is conveyed and how?  The curatorial strategies, the design and the concepts of the communication of the exhibition are analyzed and discussed on the basis of historical case studies and some visits to exhibitions in art institutions in Hong Kong.  The interaction between artists, curators and collectors, the art market and auction houses is also discussed.  The participants of the course no longer get to know exhibitions from the point of view of consumers, but from the point of view of curators, producers and designers.

Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7005. Collections Acquisitions, Management and Care (9 credits) 

MUSE7005. Collections Acquisitions, Management and Care (Elective Course)
 
The focus of this course is the professional development and care of collections. On the one hand, the focus is on analysing collections, understanding their historic and future purpose and to envision a plan for anticipated growth both of the collections themselves and the engagement with them. On the other hand, the course teaches systematic practical skills, including the management of collections, care and storage-related tasks and preventive conservation. Although no specific emphasis is put on conservation, this course will be a class connecting this Museum Studies programme with a future conservation programme. A pedagogical aim of this course is to help prepare students for a specific professional field: those who do not wish to continue in art, history, archaeology, etc., will have the opportunity to learn concrete management skills.


Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7007. Digital Media for Collecting, Archiving and Exhibiting (9 credits) 

MUSE7007. Digital Media for Collecting, Archiving and Exhibiting (Elective Course) 

 

The course provides a basic introduction to how digital technologies are used for the diverse tasks of museums. This concerns registration and inventory through collection / museum management systems as it is done in museum informatics and for building digital collections. Furthermore, information is given on long-term archiving of digital and digitised data and the different media used by artists for their works of art (Video Art, Media Art etc.). Another part of the course deals with the conception, design and production of interactive media (offline and online) for the field of education and in exhibitions. Here, a review of important multimedia applications (CD-ROMs as predecessors of apps as well as interactive stories for webdocs), gesture-based computing, immersive spaces and augmented/virtual reality will be presented.
Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7009. The Art Market (9 credits) 

MUSE7009. The Art Market (Elective Course) 
 
The Art Market is designed as a block seminar and takes place in preparation for and alongside the art fairs, auctions, and gallery weekends in Hong Kong. The aim of this block seminar is to get to know the functions of the key players in the art market. How does the interaction between them work? What is the difference between the primary market and the secondary market? Where do collectors stand? And what roles do museums and curators play in the art business? In order to understand how the mechanisms, work and how the key players act, art fairs (Fine Art Asia, Art Basel Hong Kong), auctions and openings will be visited and examined. 


Assessment: 100% coursework

MUSE7011. Market, Message, Money: Marketing and Fundraising in the Museum Sector (9 credits)

MUSE7011. Market, Message, Money: Marketing and Fundraising in the Museum Sector (Elective Course) 

This course will focus on the intertwined connections between curatorial and educational contents, audiences and financial backing. It will introduce fundraising strategies and explain how retail shops and other commercial activities support the overall missions of cultural institutions.
Assessment: 100% coursework
 

MUSE7013. Techniques, Styles and Meanings: Insights into Collection Research (9 credits)

MUSE7013. Techniques, Styles and Meanings: Insights into Collection Research (Elective Course) 

 

This course offers different approaches to object research from an interdisciplinary perspective, from the concepts of materiality and object biography to scientific research and contextual analysis. Students will work closely with the Museums Studies faculty and curators from the University Museum and Art Gallery and other local museums in Hong Kong, to carry out object-driven material cultural studies.  Using archival sources, physical examinations and scientific research to investigate individual objects and entire collections, we will engage a growing variety of methods to decode the physical making and cultural significance of artworks in museum collections.
Assessment: 100% coursework

MLIM6206. Leading and managing in the workplace (6 credits)

MLIM6206. Leading and managing in the workplace (Elective Course)

 

This course utilises the case method approach to examine a variety of established and emerging concepts related to management and leadership. Using an organisational behaviour approach, students will be encouraged to assess the effectiveness of their own management styles in diverse scenarios. Interactive exercises offer opportunities for experiential learning, including engaging in managerial activities such as decision-making and team building.

MLIM6212. Knowledge management (6 credits)

MLIM6212. Knowledge management (Elective Course)

 

This course offers an overview of the theories, concepts, and practices of Knowledge Management (KM) and Innovation Management (IM) in various organisations and communities. Students will explore essential issues and approaches regarding knowledge creation, identification, capture, storage, sharing, and application. The course introduces techniques and tools for establishing a knowledge-sharing culture and system. It also uses case studies to illustrate the implementation and development of a knowledge-sharing culture and innovation management in organisations. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of KM programmes in practical situations.

MNPM7003. Managing nonprofit organisations: issues, tools and challenges (6 credits)

MNPM7003. Managing nonprofit organisations: issues, tools and challenges (Elective Course)

 

This course aims to address a major challenge currently facing the nonprofit sector: how to achieve effective management in a complex and rapidly changing environment. The course provides an overview of the broad range of management tools, principles, and practices that nonprofit organisations rely on to meet their mission objectives, frame messages to attract public support, motivate volunteers, plan effectively, develop strong board leadership, connect with other sectors, and set and meet performance objectives. The course also explores future trends and developments in nonprofit management. Topics covered include developing organisational capacity, leveraging stakeholder and community engagement, and more.

MNPM7011. Social entrepreneurship and innovation (6 credits)

MNPM7011. Social entrepreneurship and innovation (Elective Course)

 

This course explores the field of social entrepreneurship, which aims to promote long-term social change through innovative technological solutions. The field is rapidly evolving and encompasses different activities and goals, depending on whether one is from the private, nonprofit, or public sector. The course analyses the strengths and limitations of social entrepreneurship and social businesses from a comparative perspective, focusing on their use as tools for achieving lasting social change within nonprofit organisations. Various theories, concepts, frameworks, guidelines, and measurement tools, such as impact investing and SORI, are explored to promote effective social entrepreneurship and innovation, with a particular focus on the sustainability of these solutions.

HIST4033. Museums and history (6 credits)

HIST4033. Museums and history (Elective Course)

 

Museums have become one of the most popular ways of telling history. Many scholars argue that museums are not neutral places; rather, they are often used for a wide range of strategic purposes: regulating social behavior, building citizenship and national identity, and expanding state power. But museums also face a variety of constraints and challenges: culture, money, politics, physical space, locating and selecting appropriate artifacts, and forming narratives. This course considers these issues by looking at history museums and heritage preservation in Hong Kong. The goals of the course are to familiarize students with a range of theoretical approaches to museum studies; explore the ways in which museums and heritage preservation can be used to further certain political, cultural, and commercial agendas; and help students learn to write an analytical research essay based on readings and museum fieldwork.

Assessment: 100% coursework.

Capstone Experience

MUSE7998. Professional Internship (6 credits) 

MUSE7998. Capstone Experience: Professional Internship

 

All students are required to complete a professional internship.

 

After having completed their MA Dissertations, students will apply their knowledge and gain professional experience in a 6-week long work placement at UMAG or one of our partner institutions. These internships are designed as ‘first jobs’ or as study periods in which students can develop a certain focus or project to further specialise in their professional development. Participants write and submit log books documenting their work processes and learning outcomes.

Assessment: 100% coursework.

MUSE 7999. MA Dissertation in Museum Studies (9 credits) 

MUSE 7999. Capstone Experience: MA Dissertation in Museum Studies

 

All students are required to complete a MA dissertation. 

 

Students in this course will produce a written dissertation (8,000 - 10,000 words) based on research into a selected topic in Museum studies. They will apply advanced methods of scholarly research to this topic; demonstrate knowledge of theory and methodology; show original thinking in presenting a scholarly argument about their topic; and master professional practices and standards of analytical writing, use of sources, and presentation. Students are advised to start their dissertations during the semester and they are given 8 weeks (in May and June) to complete this course. 

Assessment: 100% coursework. 

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