the introduction to our online Public History and Heritage course video transcript

Hello there I'm Dr Kathleen McIlvenna and I'm here today to talk to you about the MA in Public History and Heritage. So I wanted to start it off by giving you a sort of introduction to the team that you'll meet over the duration of the MA and we'll be kind of teaching you directly or potentially available for supervision for public history consultancies or independent studies. So to start with me, I'm Kathleen McIlvenna, I'm a historian specializing in 19th-century British history. I'm currently part of a welcome trust-funded project called addressing health which looks at postal workers and their health and death in the 19th century which I'm heading up the public engagement aspects for that and is in partnership with the postal museum.

Prior to my academic experience, I've also worked in a range of museums from large nationals to small local museums and I've worked for the royal armouries based at the Tower of London and the science museum group. I'm also a member of various organisations and associations linked to public history and heritage including the international federation for public history and the museums association and I am one of the conveners for the public history IHR seminar. So I have a range of interests and academic specialisms related to history public history and heritage generally across the course.

We'll also be joined by another other range of colleagues including Dr Tom Neuhaus and he is the Head of Discipline for humanities so he covers his remit covers a range of subjects but he is a historian by trade and specialises in east and southeast Asian history and European imperialism and China's political system so he has a real interest in kind of global perspectives and an interest in kind of the public history aspects connected to those areas of the world. He also works very closely with lots of heritage organisations and is really interested in developing contacts and has worked closely with various arts and heritage institutions as part of his role at Derby.

Similarly, Dr Oliver Godsmark is interested in global and South Asian history he also has been developing great links to various organisations and community groups and heritage institutions during his time here at Derby so brings a range of wealth of experience and expertise.

Dr Cath Feely is a senior lecturer and specialises in 19th and 20th century British and European history and heritage and she has really been critical and sort of setting up this MA from the very start and has a wealth of connections and partnerships with a range of heritage institutions and real expertise in building public history. She led our being human events a few years ago.

Professor Paul Elliott is also part of the team. He specializes in modern history and there are some really interesting historical specialisms related to historical geography and the history of education and the history of science. He's also worked with a range of arts and heritage organisations and has experience in those types of public engagement.

And Dr Ruth Larsen is a specialist in 18th century and 19th-century British history. She is our resident country house expert and there's nothing Ruth doesn't know about the country house and has really established great links with various country houses. In terms of academic research as well as public history and engagement she's the Programme Leader for the undergraduate course here at the University of Derby but is available for supervision and appears occasionally sometimes across modules.

So that's the team of people you'll be engaging with across the course but what is the course itself? So it's three years of part-time study doing one module at a time. What makes our course particularly unique compared to other heritage type MAs is that we include a public history consultancy which is our version of a sort of work experience module where you develop a project in partnership with an outside organisation as well as an independent study so your own independent academic research.

The programme has been designed by a team as you've seen with a range of experience and contacts with public history institutions. It was designed and developed in consultation with a range of organisations as well with their input of what the sector needs and what needs to be developed. We really pride ourselves in the practicality of our modules so as you'll see some of the assessments are really different and challenging, looking at very practical aspects to build skills that you can apply directly into roles in the heritage sector or indeed the arts sector as well as building that academic expertise and specialisms as well and we conduct the course in a range of ways.

We try and engage students in a wide variety of techniques using online seminars as well as trying to have guest speakers and continually talking to you about career development as well. So we try and support you in all different aspects of your studies. So what we really try and do with this is to really help you strengthen your contacts in the heritage sector and widen your industry knowledge.

The heritage sector is such an evolving changing sector it's really growing and the different ways that it's growing is really important to look at so technology has been really inspiring and to look at, see the impacts of that. So we talk a lot about that and we also are very much interested in global perspectives. So this isn't just focused on British heritage and history, we try and engage students in a range of different ways including this sort of wide-ranging assessment strategies really aimed at developing kind of your personal practical hard skills as well as softer academic skills to enhance your employability whatever direction you want to go in. Whether that's the heritage sector or another direction.

These are the programme aims as speculated in kind of our official documents. So I'll essentially just read these, they are:

So a lot of these I hope I've kind of touched on before but we really work to enhance all areas of different skills and ideas pushing you in academic as well as practical sense and teamwork and through global perspectives as well to develop your skills and knowledge and hopefully enhancing your employability as well.

So how it works with online learning is that we have three trimesters over a year for the main public history and heritage. We have two intakes per year and that is September and January. The terms in each trimester go over ten weeks. So as you can see here the autumn term is from September to December. Spring from January to April and then Summer from May to August.

Each module is worth 20 credits per trimester. So we have two modules that are worth 40 credits that's the Public History Consultancy and the Independent Study and as you'll see those then stretch over two trimesters because they are 40 credits. We generally recommend that you spend about 200 hours per 20 credit module and that equates to about 20 hours per week over those ten weeks. So the assessments are generally due in that week 11 once the ten weeks are all done.

So this is an example of what you might study if you were starting in September. This is currently how it runs but obviously can be subject to change. So you start with the Politics of History: Using the Past in the Present, and this is kind of a very general public history type module thinking about the uses and abuses of history, from how archives are created to how history is used in politics. And then onto Heritage Management Funding and Marketing, which is kind of that introduction to many aspects of heritage.

Particularly important if you're completely new to the heritage sector and we'll think about the aspects of how it's funded and how it's marketed as well. Then Curation and Conservation in the Digital Age. It's very much thinking about kind of objects and their life and the stories and how we interpret them and whether that be kind of the biography of an object, so how our understanding of it can change over time to actually it's life within say a museum or heritage site and what happens from accreditation through to disposal.

Then we have modules looking at Audiences and Audience Development. This is a really important module for the heritage sector right now I'd say and a number of our students have gone into audience-related jobs afterward. It's a really growing area that actually it's important to know who is coming through the door or coming to your website and who is not and we think a lot and talk a lot about how we have this information, how we gather that information, what type of information is out there to support and contextualise that and ways you can change that as well. So what places are doing to develop their audiences whether that's non-visitors or current visitors that they're trying to build a more meaningful relationship with.

Current Debates in Global Heritage so this is very much making sure we've got that global perspective and you research various aspects of global heritage in that to write your own and organise your own symposium and write your own paper for it. And then we've got the Public History Consultancy and this is that partnership with an outside organisation. You'll build a relationship with them and come up with a project and that will benefit hopefully you to develop your skills but also benefit them as well. You'll work very closely with your module tutor to develop this and develop that relationship and is a really key module for many people doing this MA to help further their employability goals. And then we finish off with the Independent Study which is your own personal research project that you'll have a supervisor from somewhere across the team here at Derby to support you in developing that research and writing a 15,000-word dissertation.

So I've only hinted at a few different types of assessments but here I just wanted to emphasise the wide-ranging type of assessment we have and the importance of the practical aspects. So these can be from designing a virtual museum and the curation and conservation module to presenting an academic paper. As I mentioned in the symposium you will help to organise for the Current Debates in Global Heritage module. Preparing a funding bid for the Heritage Management Funding and Marketing module.

Writing policy briefs as part of the Politics of History module. Analysing audience data, we normally work with a heritage site that actually gives us some audience data. We work with the National Justice Museum and the Science Museum Group who've given us real data that they've collected which you can analyse and as well as collect your own. You write your consultancy reports as part of the Public History Consultancy module and alongside that there are essays to do and extended academic research projects obviously as part of the independent study but as part of other modules as well.

So the consultancy project as I mentioned can be a really important one for people and we've had students do all sorts of different types of projects with all sorts of different types of organisations some students have a very clear idea of what type of thing they want to do others have a very clear idea of what type of organisation they want to work for. If you already work for a heritage organisation, students have developed projects with their current employers and it's very important that we talk a lot about what you want to do and how you want to do it.

So these are just some examples of the types of organisations that we have helped students set up projects with. They include the:

We'll start having conversations quite early on about what you'd like to do and how and when would be a good time to reach out to people as well and the type of things people have done have just been very wide-ranging from focusing on exhibitions and interpretation to doing audience and evaluations to thinking about the digital strategy so assessing what kind of competitors are doing and putting together project plans for expanding their digital outputs. To producing learning materials and education packs for schools to use on particular topics, to presenting research to volunteers and doing their own audience research for disabled audiences or something like that.

It really is wide-ranging and can be in all sorts of different directions. So it's something that we talk a lot about to develop as early on as possible and then what people have done after they've completed the MA is really wide-ranging and people have gone into all sorts of different types of heritage jobs from front of house to more research to curatorial to working with architects and researching the historic buildings to actually doing more audience type research and working with consultancies themselves to develop projects.

We've also had students go on to do further academic research and actually one of my PhD students was a former MA student and they're working on a project looking at the Derwent Valley Mills world heritage site. So hopefully this MA prepares you for all types of different types of careers that you might want to go on to and some of the skills we focus on like writing, funding applications, marketing, doing audience research is applicable to heritage but also potentially other charities or arts-based organisations as well.

So what do our students think? And this is a lovely snippet from something from Ruth Gray who was a student who is actually an artist by trade and had no heritage experience at all before coming to the MA. She was one of our on-campus students and as you can see there we've got a lot out of or kind of support that we offer our students as well. We're always available for tutorials and for chats and sort of help with career guidance as well as the other university systems and departments that can help there to support you as well. So Ruth has done great she's finished her course on campus and now does research for an architectural firm in historic buildings and is really loving it.

Tamsyn Flannery is one of our current online learning students and is about to start doing her independent study. Tamzyn currently works for a National Trust property and again has some lovely things to say about us. She has been doing fantastically well on the consultancy she did based at the property she works at. She has had some fantastic feedback and support from the trust in doing that but it's also really helped her doing the MA. She's told us it's really enabled her to think about her career more broadly and start to think about applying for jobs and start applying for jobs, get interviews for things that you might not have thought of before - possibly connected to funding or audience engagement.

So by joining us on online learning you'd become part of a global professional network. We've got over 5,000 current students learning online with us and this is something Derby has really developed a specialism in. We've been doing it for two decades now so it's something that we really are doing quite well and so you'd be joining a wide range of people to help build your learning and support you through your learning journey.

This is just a little insight into the type of course material we produce so we have quizzes or padlets and tables and things for you to fill in and quizzes to partake in and case studies for you to look at so we really try and vary and the online learning it's not just a matter of sitting watching videos all day we try and make it as interactive as possible so doing this course really can help transform your future and take it in the direction that you want it to go in. It can help with career progression if you're already in the heritage sector and wanting to progress in a particular way. Or perhaps you're not sure what direction to progress in and this course can maybe help you think that through and think about what skills you want to develop in the future.

It enables you to do further academic study through doing independent study. Academic research students have gone on to do PhD research as well. It's also been used by students as a way to change their career. Some people return to study after a break whilst some people really just want to change the direction that they're going in. We have such a big range of students coming to this course for a whole host of different reasons and it's fantastic because they really support each other in different ways and bring a whole range of different experiences, lived experience and professional experience to the discussions which are all extremely valuable.

As I said, Derby has been doing online learning for 20 years now and they've really established this idea of your cloud campus so I'm going to talk now a little bit about what that looks like and feels like for you.

As online learners we want you to have the best experience but that does mean we need some dedication from you as well and so with that in mind we thought I'd touch on some aspects that would really help you in giving you a sort of success from the start of your learning. So creating a place to study is really important. Having your area and time to devote to your studies as we mentioned, we ask that you protect about 20 hours per week so this involves working through the activities that we set as part of each weekly unit. So there are ten units per module, so that's normally one unit per week of the module as well as working on your assessments as well.

Regularly engage with your peers and the academics so your activities will ask you to engage with each other through discussion boards or write things up in your personal journal that's just for your module tutor to see but also you'll be invited to come to live sessions as well where you can talk about things with your cohort and with your academic leaders to really discuss points and think about assessments as well.

Get into the habit of checking your learning portals, look at your emails, look at all the additional resources. I'll touch a bit on kind of the additional resources you have available. There are all sorts of different ways that Derby is here to support you in your learning. Not just through doing the MA activities and units and assessments and please don't leave the assignment to the last minute as I mentioned most assignments are due in on week 11 at the end of your module and we'll be talking about them from as early as week two or three, and enabling you to come to live sessions and talk about what's required and think about them so please do come to those or watch the recordings.

If you're unable to, they're always recorded and accessible to students if you can't make a live session and arrange tutorials as well we're always here and available to try and talk to you about assignments so don't think that you need to just get on with it on your own. It's never like that. We're here to support you through it. Tell your friends and family that you're doing this and get their support and their buy-in as well. Hopefully, that will help drive you forward and let them know that that you need to carve out time to do this work as well.

So as I've mentioned there are various ways to engage with your online community and with your fellow students and with the academics as well the discussion forums are really important. So there'll be times where you can come and talk to each other and this is obviously asynchronous so you will do it at the time that you are available. These things are available 24/7 so they're there for you to do the work whenever you need to or you're able to.

We have formal learning activities and discussion forums but also informal areas like a cafe forum, that really isn't a space for me to be involved in, but as a space for you as students to talk to each other and share your experiences. You'll get your own university email address and this will be important for communications from me, as Programme Leader, as well as your module leaders and can be used between students as well - particularly from student reps and the representations of student to share your voice and your ideas and your experiences.

Blackboard collaborate is the system we use for live sessions. So we normally have about three per term and they tend to focus particularly say on the assessments and what's expected for those and how to do them and we try and figure out the best time for everyone to come along but obviously, that will inevitably mean that someone can't come along and we'll always record those sessions and share them with you afterward so that everyone can engage with the content even if you can't come to the live session yourself.

As I mentioned we are always available for tutorials and so do get in touch if you need to have a chat about something whether that's something that is academically related to course content or whether you need to talk about extensions or changing personal circumstances or something and you need to talk to us do get in touch with the relevant people, with that module leader, program leader or other university departments and we can set up a telephone or teams meeting as well.

Use your support network. We have a wide-ranging support network, some of it that I've hinted at already, obviously the academic team. You'll be assigned a personal academic tutor so that is the person who will look after your kind of academic development throughout your course so your module leaders may change but your personal academic tutor will stay the same and you can have regular meetings and updates, catch-ups with them and is a really good place to kind of talk about reoccurring aspects in your feedback from your assessments, things you want to work on and your aims and objectives and kind of big career goals as well.

We've got the online learning advisors who are there for kind of non-academic content type queries so this includes enrolment, fees, and any kind of administrative aspects of it. They're there for your support in that as a University of Derby student you have full access to our other services as well which includes student well-being- our support service for mental health aspects, for creating support plans so if you have something like dyslexia they can create a support plan to make sure that we as academic staff are supporting you in your learning as best as we can. You have access to the library services, the careers services, and the Union of Students.

As I mentioned there'll be a student rep representing online learning students who is there to gather feedback and support you and be a gateway between the student group and me. Through being an online student you have access to Office 360 and that includes a terabyte of storage as well as Microsoft packages including Word, Excel, Forms all types of useful Powerpoint tools in there as well.

We realise that people are trying to fit this around their busy lives so you obviously have access 24/7 to the student portal and the learning and virtual learning environment to the Blackboard aspects of it, the discussion rooms, the personal journals all those sorts of tools but you know we are here to help if you have any difficulties or queries or you're not sure how things are working do get in touch and we can normally help solve problems pretty quickly. To reflect slightly on the library resources, as a humanities subject the library is our lab and is integral to us but being online doesn't mean you're missing out on any resources.

We have great online reading lists for modules. You'll get a reading list for every module and there are lots and lots of online books and journals you'll have access to and the library service itself. Librarians are on hand to help to set up meetings. They also have lots of training sessions that they conduct online that you can join and be part of. Library Plus is sort of our academic version of Google and it's just a really fantastic research resource for when you're starting to do research in any particular area. We'll make sure we talk you through how to use those.

There are some subject librarians with expertise who you can set up meetings with and can help you navigate library systems and look at the various databases that we have available that will be of use to you. They are there to support you in all sorts of academic library related issues and each module will have a core and recommended reading list. So particularly units will have suggested reading that you're doing as part of that weekly unit and but also there'll be extra readings that you could do and sometimes optional readings that you can continue to explore as well.

We've got a mix of really core important books that we use as part of our teaching as well as access to textbooks all available in the e-library. Something worth mentioning is the Museum's Extra database which is a very specialist collection of books published by Museums Extra that cover such a wide range. As you can see an example in the image covering - sort of interpretation or photography or audiences or even shopping and shops and museums. We also have access to a wide range of really specialist journals from the curator to the public historian to museum management that will be extremely useful for your studies.

So you may be learning online but an important aspect of the MA is that we still welcome you on campus for graduation. At the end of your three years, we'll invite you to Derby to come and have your graduation in person. It's a really lovely event that you can invite friends and family to really celebrate what you've achieved over those three years.

So that's it. I'm going to stop there but the next steps for you now are to go on our course webpage and have a look at the entry requirements, course fees, particular payment plans, and when the next intakes are. Have a look around, continue to explore, and see if there is any more information that you need and also think about signing up for some of our webinars that we hold across the year but that's all for now.

If you have any further questions please do get in touch with the University Online Learning team the details are on the slide here and on the website. Really hope to speak to you soon. 

Contact the Online Learning Team by email at or give us a call at +44 (0)1332 594000

The introduction to our online Public History and Heritage course video

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