Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ARCH55360: Dissertation in Museum and Artefact Studies

Department: Archaeology

ARCH55360: Dissertation in Museum and Artefact Studies

Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Detailed familiarity with relevant published literature; to consult a wide range of relevant academic and professional specialists; and to gather a body of data, evaluate it, and draw appropriate conclusions.


  • This module is intended for those students considering undertaking further postgraduate research after completing the MA course. In it, students develop and demonstrate research skills in a chosen aspect of museum and artefact studies in which they are interested.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A range of major humanistic and scientific approaches, techniques, key terms, concepts, themes and debates relating to the study of museums and/or artefacts.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Collect, examine, record, analyse, interpret critically, draw justifiable conclusions from, synthesise, present and acknowledge museum- and artefact-related research information (including both quantitative and qualitative information from publications, collections, databases, subject specialists and tutors), selecting and using appropriate methods carefully and accurately, in line with the aims and objectives of a research plan.
Key Skills:
  • Use computer and information technology (e.g. word processing, databases, graphing and image processing).
  • Access library, museum, archive and World Wide Web resources.
  • Undertake advanced independent study, research and problem solving.
  • Communicate information and arguments effectively, in written, visual and computerised form, to specialist audiences.
  • Take responsibility for personal, professional and ethical development within the museum and cultural heritage sector or within academia, responding actively to critical feedback.
  • Manage time effectively, working to time-tables and meeting deadlines.
  • Contribute to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in a research field.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Tutorials, focussing on discussion and feedback between tutors and students, usually on a one-to-one basis, and in a relatively informal learning environment, supported by a written record of the key points covered. Tutorials enable learners to develop, discuss, question and receive feedback on the full range of their subject-specific knowledge and critical understanding, and to gain experience and competence in key skills pertaining to teamwork, communication and taking responsibility for personal development.
  • Self-guided learning, comprising personal and group-based study, research, revision, problem-solving and evaluation associated with classes and assignments. Self-guided learning enables students to increase their knowledge and critical understanding of the full range of subject-specific knowledge, and to gain experience and competence in the full range of subject-specific skills and key skills.
  • Dissertation, comprising a larger and deeper 10,000-word knowledgeable and critical written discussion of a chosen topic in museum and/or artefact studies, based upon the accurate use of research data and methods, and presented to publication standard. Formative assessment, accompanied by written feedback from tutors, is regarded as an integral part of the learning process. It helps learners to consolidate knowledge and understanding and to explore and develop subject-specific and key skills. A range of formative assignments therefore precede a selection of summative assignments on all modules within the programme. These relate to specific learning outcomes, as well as a few additional learning outcomes not assessed summatively. The formative assignments include:
  • A Research Plan, of 300-800 words, followed by a Research Proposal, of 500-800 words, for either the Research Paper or the Dissertation, help to consolidate knowledge and understanding of a chosen aspect of museum and/or artefact studies, and help to plan the use of skills working with museum-and/or artefact-related data.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 5 every 3 weeks 1 hour 5
Preparation & Reading 595
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 10,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

500 word dissertation proposal. 500 word dissertation plan and progress report. 2,000 word sample chapter.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University