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Masters Course structure

General Course Themes

The SRU MA course provides coverage of the three regions (taught in three separate modules) and a core module focused on general theoretical and methodological issues and on museum anthropology. Through lectures and coursework, the course explores some of the following themes: Architecture, cosmology and organisation of space | Representations of power and legitimacy | Ceremonial practices | Spirits and ancestors: the interface of politics, ideology and art | Valuables, exchange and the market | Production, style and the role of the artist | Ethnographic museums and display | The agency of objects.


In addition to the dissertation, the MA course requirements are: six essays (a seminar paper and gallery talk for each of the three world regions), a museology essay, and the dissertation.  Throughout the course, there is a strong emphasis on cross-cultural comparison and examination of contemporary theory.


The dissertation of approximately 15,000 words is an important part of the course, allowing students to work intensively on a topic of their choice, possibly as a precursor to doctoral research.

Course structure

Lecture series

These run weekly during the academic year. Each member of faculty delivers a lecture series on the appropriate specialist area. These lectures, besides providing students with an overview of each area's visual material, also cover the main methodological and theoretical issues raised in the area literature, and provide the background against which seminars will be delivered by students.

Seminar series

For each of the three world regions, each student produces two essays: a research seminar and a gallery talk. The topics for the seminar paper (written and oral presentation) are chosen from a range of options provided by faculty to accommodate each student's interests.  Likewise, for each world region, the student is expected to present an essay and presentation (i.e., gallery talk) on one of the objects in the Sainsbury Collection.  Practical instruction is provided in presentation and teaching techniques, so that students become experienced in presenting written and visual material to an academic audience.

Ethnographic museums and material culture studies

The MA course also provides lectures and study sessions on a variety of topics: the Sainsbury Collection, object handling and conservation, display, cultural property, the history of collections, fakes and authenticity, the art market, cataloguing and documentation.

Museum study visits

An emphasis on museological issues is covered by study visits to museums and exhibitions in London, Paris, Cambridge, Oxford and elsewhere.

Supplementary sessions

These provide training in research techniques, bibliographic research, computing, work presentation, editing, design and other professional matters. There is also a regular SRU research seminar with presentations by SRU students, staff and visting speakers. Postgraduates and faculty attend the weekly World Art Research Seminar, at which faculty and visiting speakers present papers on wide range of topics.