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The University of Southampton

ARCH3017 Presenting the past: Museums and Heritage

Module Overview

In this module we will examine how knowledge about the past is presented in museum exhibition and display. We will look at current practices in exhibition design and discuss the contemporary literature on communicating heritage to a range of audiences. You will then work in groups and present an oral presentation prior to completion of an exhibition proposal on a subject or theme relating to archaeology and heritage.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• develop the appropriate analytical skills for critiquing museum displays • learn how to debate the issues facing contemporary museum practice • learn some of the techniques for designing and producing museum displays

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the power and importance of material culture in communicating ideas about cultures past and present
  • the problems of interpretation and presentation when communicating archaeology to non- professional audiences
  • the impact of museum exhibitions on the construction of knowledge
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • prepare exhibition design proposals for a non-professional audiences
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work as part of a team, where each team member makes a different contribution
  • develop your verbal presentation skills
  • develop your time management skills


Themes explored in this module include: • Current practice in exhibition design • Literature on communicating heritage • The theory of representation • Heritage and identity

Special Features

The module features a trip to a museum which will have wheel chair access and disabled facilities if required. Transport to and from the museum will also be possible for those with a disability.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures to outline the theoretical framework and background to the subject • Group seminars to explore specific issues in the presentation of heritage and to help consolidate your knowledge • Museum visit to see real world examples of heritage presentation and to provide field data for group work. Learning activities include: • Preparation of essays • Preparation and performance of oral presentation • Participation in seminars • Presentation of updates on group work

Preparation for scheduled sessions38
Completion of assessment task80
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Parry, R. (2010). Museums in a Digital Age. 

Sandell, R. (ed.) (2002). Museums, Society, Inequality. 

Falk, J.H. & L. Dierking (2000). Learning from Museums. 

Dean, D. (1997). Museum Exhibition. Theory and practice. 

Swain, H. (2009). An Introduction to Museum Archaeology. 

Marstine, J. (ed.) (2006). New Museum Theory and Practice. 

Kreps, C.F (2003). Liberating culture: cross-cultural perspectives on museums, curation, and heritage preservation. 

Lord, B and G. Lord. (eds) (2002). The Manual of Museum Exhibitions. 

Moser, S. (2006). Wondrous Curiosities. Ancient Egypt at the British Museum. 

Ambrose, T. and C. Paine (2012). Museum Basics.. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 25%
Group presentation 10%
Group project report  (4000 words) 65%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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