Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ARCH3621: Museum Representation

Department: Archaeology

ARCH3621: Museum Representation

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • 40 credits of Level 1 Archaeology modules.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Museums are authoritative sources of information about the past through the physical remains (artefacts, images, biological material) they display and the ideas they project. The way that museums represent the past determines how many of us see and understand the past.
  • Through lectures, practicals, tutorials and fieldtrips, students will :
  • Enhance their understanding of the processes and underlying concepts of representation in museums, in particular representation of archaeological material in museums and the wider heritage;
  • Develop awareness of the theory and practice of representation in museums by critical analysis of existing representations and creating their own (re)presentations.


  • through a series of four topics involving lectures, visits, student group work and student presentations, students will engage with the themes and ideas of representation in museums.
  • four topics will be available each year depending on staff availability. Topics may include:
  • aociety and Identity (gender, race, regionality, age, wealth)
  • art, now you see us
  • human bodies & beings
  • belief and the sacred
  • Authentic Artefacts? fake, broken and dirty objects
  • Romans and Barbarians – Frontiers in the Museum
  • other topics may also be available.
  • lectures and seminars cover:
  • nature and power of images
  • nature and power of artefacts
  • museum communication.
  • education and learning in museums
  • contemporary archaeological exhibitions and representations.
  • evaluating museums and exhibitions.
  • contemporary issues in museum archaeology.
  • access and the social role of archaeology museums.
  • fieldtrips involving visits to museums.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module the students will have:
  • Developed a sound knowledge of contemporary display issues, good and poor practice relating to museum communication, and of the broader context of museum displays and exhibitions.
  • Knowledge of the diversity of approaches to representation in museum displays in Britain.
  • Knowledge of approaches to evaluating a variety of museums and exhibitions.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have gained the following subject skills:
  • Basic analytical skills (practical and intepretative) pertaining to museum presentation and communication.
  • Ability to critically evaluate themes within the four topics
  • Ability to access museum resources
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have gained and developed the following skills:
  • undertaking independent study, research and problem-solving
  • participation in and reflection on collaborative team work
  • collection, critical analysis and interpretation of complex primary and secondary data
  • preparation and effective communication of interpretations in written and visual form including use of presentation software

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

  • The module is taught through a combination of lectures, visits, seminars and self-guided learning.
  • Lectures will ensure the effective communication of key information and theoretical ideas, supported by reading lists and information posted on DUO, enabling students to gain up-to-date knowledge, as well as guidance on further reading.
  • Visits will allow critical appraisal of working representations in museums, the ability to observe public engagement and receive comment from those creating and commissioning such representations.
  • Independent Group work with a moderator will develop team working and collaborative group endeavour as well as communication skills. The moderated environment will allow critical evaluation and development of ideas, stimulate responses and discussion and foster an environment rich in ideas and opinions. The moderator will ensure appropriate progression of ideas.
  • The requirement of presentation stimulates self-guided learning comprising personal study using specialist books, articles and web-sites, research, revision and evaluation. It develops skills in selection and presentation of images as well as written material.
  • Presentations develop more formal presenting skills. They enable students to enhance, discuss, question and receive formative feedback on their knowledge and to gain experience in oral communication and collaborative group-work.
  • The module is assessed through an essay and notes and slides for a presentation, which develops and assess written and image based communication as well as verbal presentation skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 4 per Term 1 Hour 8
Visits 4 2 Per Term Half or whole day 20
Independent Group work 3 1 or 2 per Term 1 2 Hour 6
Seminars 4 2 Per Term 2 Hours 8
Preparation and Reading 158
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100% same
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
notes and slides for a presentation 25 frames & notes 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Presentation discussing a selected theme drawing on theoretical understanding and evidence from visits

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