• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Museum and Collection
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, Museums and Collections
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

How do objects and collections acquire meaning? How are those meanings conveyed to museum visitors? How, for example, can museums depict the experience of immigrants to Australia, or the relationship between people and the environment? What is the purpose of a museum exhibition? What constitutes a ‘successful' exhibition in terms of design, visitation and impact? Should museums be seeking to challenge their visitors, to educate, to entertain ... or all of these? Are all visitors the same? Can new technologies, including virtual museums, broaden museum's impact and enhance visitors' understanding? This course will address these questions and many more. It will consider how museums and cultural heritage sites communicate, allowing students to explore these questions by examining both theory and practice. themes addressed during the course include:

  • Understanding and assessing significance, and its role in communication planning
  • The principles of interpretation and communication and incorporating these into best
  • practice planning
  • Understanding museum audiences for more effective communication
  • Designing exhibitions, public programs, education kits and other forms of museum communication.

Learning Outcomes

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

Course aims:

On completing this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Explain the different interpretive roles of different kinds of museums and heritage sites, understand their approaches toward representation and communication, and evaluate their changing relationships with the audiences and communities they serve;

2. Assess and report on the significance of heritage objects, collections or sites, and demonstrate critical conceptual and practical understanding of how to present and interpret these objects within the context of a museum exhibition or heritage site, including an understanding of relevant marketing and funding;

3. Synthesise key concepts from the fields of communication, interpretation and museum studies and apply these concepts to specific situations and case studies;

4. Model best practice and a commitment to ethical, reflective practice in the way museums communicate with their audiences and communities.

Learning outcomes:

1.     To gain skills in written and verbal expression for a variety of relevant professional and academic purposes that include essays, collections assessments, funding applications, proposals for exhibitions and public programs, and interpretive text.

2.     To develop skills in interdisciplinary thinking and the ability to apply theoretical ideas to case studies developed from personal observation.

3.     To gain skills required for humanities research and museum work. This includes data-collection, analysis, and verbal and written presentation at the standard of a postgraduate degree.

4.     To gain understanding and a basic set of skills required for working in the cultural and collecting sector, including a functioning knowledge of current industry standards and protocols, policy frameworks, and funding regimes.

Indicative Assessment

Significance Assessment (30% / 1200 wds); Travelling exhibition proposal (35% / 2000 wds), a public program or education kit, and in-class presentation (35% / 2000 wds).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the School of Archaeology and Anthropology to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Preliminary Reading

Elaine Heumann Gurian (2006) Civilizing the Museum: the collected writings of Elaine Heumann Gurian. London: Routledge.

Bettina Messias Carbonell (ed) (2004) Museum Studies: An Anthology of Contexts. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.



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
2016 $3054
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

There are no current offerings for this course.

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