• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Museum and Collection
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

In the last twenty years visitor participation in cultural institutions is shifting from a passive audience to a more active role as a participatory and differentiated audiences. Museums, in particular, now aim to be relevant, multi-vocal, dynamic and responsive community spaces with many aspiring to become local as well as national forums. This course examines the political, professional and social imperatives for cultural institutions to engage more explicitly with their audiences by locating and building a sense of community through learning in museums and galleries. The course interogates informal and free-choice learning theories in relation to museums and heritage spaces, distance and virtual learning methods and explores the rise of the concept of the ‘participatory museum’ and its application. In order to examine how, and if, this ‘participatory museum’ model works, a one day workshop on the evaluation process, the design and how and why it is conducted is included within the course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By the end of the course:
  1. Understand, explain and apply informal and free-choice learning theories for museum audiences by developing learning programs and services that engage diverse forms of participation, as well as empowering and encouraging more explicitly diverse visitors (both real and virtual)
  2. Match informal learning activities with the formal learning required by Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
  3. Assess the various needs, preferences, and learning levels of diverse museum visitors as well as specific audiences.
  4. Ability to interpret primary and secondary sources, including visual and material culture, quickly and critically and to reshape it, through public programs, school programs, new media, and written materials, for the museum’s community.
  5. Reflect on their own learning styles and recognize diverse audience learning
  6. Understanding of the importance of evaluation and basic skills in designing and conducting evaluation studies and discuss museum visitor patterns and relate these to community-based activities

Indicative Assessment

  • Contribute to online discussions (15% - 1000 words) [LO 1, 2, 3]
  • Reflective learning journal on activities and observations (20% - 1200 words) [LO 1, 2, 3]
  • Evaluation report on informal learning program or service (15% - 1000 words) [LO 4]
  • Final assessment proposal of 500 words posted online (5%) for peer assessment [LO 3]
  • Contribution to peer assessment forum (5%) [LO 5, 6,]
  • An online media presentation of a learning program that enhances community building for a museum or gallery (40% - 3000 words) [LO 1, 2, 5, 6]

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This six unit course has a total workload of 120 hours. There are six modules in this course each requiring 10 hours work online. Each module requires students to carry out and write up independent learning activities in a cultural institution that has learning as one of its core roles (4 hours per activity). An account of these activities will be posted by students on an online forum for the basis of group discussion. Independent research and directed study will be expected for the remaining hours per module.

Prescribed Texts

Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean (2009) The Educational Role of the Museum London: Routledge

Simon, Nina (2010) The Participatory Museum Santa Cruz: Museum 2.0

Falk, John (2009) Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience Left Coast Press: California

Heim, George (1998) Learning in the Museum London: Routledge

Assumed Knowledge

MUSC8012 - Understanding Learning in Museums and Heritage .



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $4146
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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