Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Material Cultures HISTART5041

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course provides an introduction to the cultural heritage sector and enables students to gain an understanding of how they may contribute to the sector as professionals after graduation. It explores both the material and symbolic properties of objects in order to analyse why artefacts matter, and why they are collected, exhibited and conserved; concepts from material culture frameworks, such as object biographies, are introduced as 'working tools' for interdisciplinary research by those involved in preserving and interpreting objects.


Two hours per week

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





Essay 80%. 4,000-word essay developing one of the topics encountered in this course.

Group report 20% (2,500 words in total). Students work together in small, mixed groups to write a joint report on an object, including an object record and assessment of condition, a significance assessment and a display rationale. The students' individual contributions are acknowledged.

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce cultural heritage issues with special reference to textile and dress collections

■ Give an insight into how graduates, as professionals, may contribute to the sector, and how different roles fit together

■ Use objects to explore and communicate key ideas

■ Introduce concepts from material culture studies, such as the object biography

■ Impart a knowledge of the key literature and of key institutions and professional bodies

■ Provide the opportunity to undertake a collaborative project

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Explain the concept of cultural heritage, how it is defined and why it matters

■ Use concepts from material culture or heritage studies as interdisciplinary research tools

■ Apply concepts of object significance to a proposal for the display and interpretation of objects

■ Work collaboratively to produce a joint report

■ Communicate and present information appropriate for different audiences

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.