Digital Heritage

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
13 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA V70012 Heritage and Museum Studies,
MA V70024 Heritage and Museum Studies,
MA V700MO Heritage and Museum Studies

Module description

This module provides a combination of theoretical readings, applied studies with a wide geographical focus, and practical training that will allow students to critically examine the impact of new technologies and media on the heritage and museum sectors.

Students will learn about specific digital techniques and how to implement them in the museum and heritage workflow. They will also analyse and compare digital practices of heritage making.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To engage with key theories of heritage (e.g. critical heritage, the authorised heritage discourse, theories of authenticity).

  • To develop knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, principles, theories and debates relating to digital heritage and museums.

  • To assess relationships between global regulations and local responses in the heritage contexts.

  • To incentivise interdisciplinary and critical approaches to researching and writing about digital heritage.

  • To develop skills of critical thinking and writing, as well as visual analysis.

  • To foster the capacity for independent research.

  • To gain digital competences and skills (Digital collecting and curating; 3D techniques).

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate engagement with the main themes that inform the module.

  2. Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure.

  3. Write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications.

  4. Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them.

  5. Think laterally and creatively, identifying interesting connections and possibilities and presenting these clearly rather than as vague hunches.

  6. Maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong.

  7. Demonstrate the ability to think critically and constructively.

Module information

Digital technologies and new media are becoming increasingly pervasive in the heritage and museum sector. Such transformations can positively impact the management, preservation, and communication of our heritage. However, they also have strong ethical implications: issues of access, authorship and ownership of the digital data; changes in the way scholars, audiences, and communities engage with heritage information through the digital, are some of the ethical dilemmas in the field.

By the end of the module students will understand how to think critically about:

  • How digital resources can alter knowledge production and dissemination in the cultural heritage sector.

  • How they can be used for public engagement, as well as to effectively enhance participatory heritage processes.

Topics of interests include:

  • Introduction to Digital Heritage.

  • Are we post-digital yet?

  • The politics of digital heritage and museums.

  • Creativity and design for Immersive Technologies in Heritage.

  • Issues of Spectatorship and new technologies.

  • Co-design and participatory digital practices.

  • Situating heritage studies in a world on Big Data.

  • Ethical dilemmas in the digital heritage and museum sector.

  • Possible Futures of Digital Heritage and Museums.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar per week.

There will be a reading week with no seminars. Discussion will be encouraged throughout.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   1000-word reflective journal  15/03/2024  20% 
Coursework   4000-word essay  23/04/2024  80% 
Practical   Presentation of essay outline    0% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr William Carruthers, email: william.carruthers@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries: phaispg@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr H Camilla Smith
University of Birmingham
Lecturer in Art History
Available via Moodle
Of 8 hours, 6 (75%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
2 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


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