SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MMV212051
Module Leader n/a
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject History
  • A (September start)

Summary of Content

This module will provide an introduction to the theories and processes of communication and interpretation as they apply to heritage. The course will offer students the opportunity to consider the various audience groups accessing heritage and will examine methods to meet their needs. Students will be introduced to new technologies as a means to enhance communication for visitor groups within the heritage sector.


The syllabus will cover the following six areas:1) Communication. Introduction to theories, method and use within the heritage sector.2) Who is the Public? Identifying user groups, meeting needs and creating space for a variety of audiences. Representation: issues and ideas. Power, accessibility and the role of multiple pasts in the representation of heritage.3) Heritage Learning. Formal and informal teaching strategies. Developing means of communicating with a variety of end groups offering alternate pasts including those based upon ethnicity, gender or age. Incorporating multiple story lines into the heritage learning and communication. 4) Interpretation. History of heritage interpretion, developing strategies and 'public' programmes. "Controlling" heritage: addressing the roles of different user groups. Accessibility: looking at the needs and contributions of alternate pasts associated with a diverse set of user groups.5) Heritage and Media. The relationship between, history and nature of portrayal of heritage in the media. Means of communication. Introduction to new techniques in communication (including such themes as: human/computer interaction, website design, interactive media, gaming).6) Implementing Interpretative Strategies. Academic presentations vs popular histories, public archaeology, heritage in the curriculum.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:- Display a critical understanding of communication and interpretation as they relate to varied audiences. - Understand and critically assess political and ethical issues relating to interpretation and representation of audiences within the heritage sector.- Evaluate the effectiveness of programmes of interpretation developed to meet user needs. - Access new technologies and demonstrate their potential for use with heritage sector audiences.- Appreciate alternate understandings and means of representation, including a critical awareness of the implications of particular interpretative strategies.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

A series of lectures and directed readings will be used to introduce core themes in the history, theories and development of communication and interpretation within heritage. Invited speakers will form a key component of this course and seminars introducing students to new techniques will be an important aspect of this module. A introduction to a variety of IT technologies (including such themes as: human/computer interaction, website design, interactive media, gaming). Students will be expected to produce either (1) a written project exploring an aspect of interpretation and/or communication at a museum or heritage site. In consultation with the module leader these case studies may be drawn from throught the museum sector or (2) an equivalent project which may draw upon any of new technologies introduced within this module. These projects may include audio-visual presentations and/or the use of IT to develop a successful and innovative means of communicating to the public. Specific projects will be developed in consultation with the module leader and tutors.

Indicative Reading

Binks, G., Dyke, J. & Dagnall, P. (1988) Visitors Welcome. London, English Heritage / HMSO.Bond, G.C. & Bond, G.A. (1994) Social Construction of the Past: Representation as Power London, RoutledgeDonnelly, J.F. (ed.) (2002) Interpreting Historic House Museums. Walnut Creek, Altamira PressGross, M. & Zimmerman, R. (2002) Interpretive Centers. Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Foundation Press.Karp I. and S.D. Lavine (eds) (1991) Exhibiting cultures : the poetics and politics of museum display Washington, Smithsonian Institution PressKarp, I., C. Mullen Kreamer, and S D. Lavine (1992) Museums and communities : the politics of public culture Washington, Smithsonian Institution PressKavanagh, G. (2000) Dream Spaces: Memory and the Museum Leicester Univeristy PressMerriman, N (2004) Public Archaeology. London, Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Books LtdMerriman, N. (ed.) 1999 Making Early Histories in Museums. London, Continuum International Publishing GroupPierssene, A. (1999) Explaining our World: An Approach to the Art of Environmental Interpretation. London, E & FN Spon.Stone P., and Planel P.(1999) The Constructed Past: Experimental Archaeology, Education and the Public (One World Archaeology Series). Routledge/ Taylor and Francis Books Ltd. Uzzell, D. and Ballentyne R. (1999) Contemporary Issues in Heritage Interpretation: Problems and Prospects. The Stationery Office Books

Transferrable Skills

Students will have the following transferable skills: - Critical awareness of the communication theory and interpretation strategy.- An ability to identify varied user groups and assess needs in order to develop and negotiate apppropriate learning strategies.- An ability to identify appropriate media opportunities and to communitcate sucessfully with those groups.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (PT) 12.00
Independent Learning (FT) 45.00
Tutorials (FT) 12.00
Directed Reading 14.00
Independent Learning (PT) 45.00
Assessment (FT) 5.00
Lectures (PT) 24.00
Assessment (PT) 5.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 0.00 100.00 50% 3000 word project report or equivalent using alternate technologies