Postgraduate taught 

Museum Studies MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Curating the Sciences INFOST5009

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The material culture of the sciences can be found in diverse places, from dedicated natural history research collections, to local history museums, to modern science centres. This course considers both how museum collections continue to be central to much teaching and research in science and medicine, and how objects, instruments and artefacts are collected and displayed to illustrate the nature of scientific and medical practices past and present.


The course is delivered through 10 two and a half hour sessions as scheduled on MyCampus. Teaching may include lectures, seminars, workshops and fieldtrips


This is one of the MSc optional courses available to all students enrolled on a Museum Studies Programme, and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus

Excluded Courses

INFOSTUD5010 - Curating the Sciences




One essay of 3000 words (70%)


A written report of 1500 words (e.g. critically evaluating an exhibition, gallery display, article or other form of media) (30%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Give participants an overview of the nature, function and history of science collections in a variety of museums.

■ Provide participants with an awareness of best practice in the curation, storage and management of scientific and medical history collections.

■ Analyse particular curatorial, conservation, safety and ethical issues arising from the management and usage of science collections.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Recognise and describe the ways in which science collections are classified and documented in museums

■ Apply informed and pragmatic judgement with regard to the acquisition and retention of scientific and medical history material

■ Explain how geological, palaeontological, anatomical, zoological, scientific and medical history collections are used by academic researchers and teachers and other diverse users.

■ Identify and explain the processes by which curators decide what instruments, hardware and material culture of the contemporary sciences to collect and conserve

■ Identify and evaluate sources of specialist help and guidance in dealing with science collections.

■ Describe and critically assess the diverse ways in which historical and contemporary scientific practices and knowledge are displayed and interpreted in museums

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.