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Seminar BA3: Politics and Ethics in the contemporary museum


Admission requirements

The following courses need to be passed:

  • All first year courses of the BA Art History/Arts, Media and Society

  • Both BA2 Seminars

This course has replaced the course Seminar BA3: Inventing a Nation: National museums and the Formation of Identity (2022-2023).


This module is designed to equip you with a range of theoretical and practical approaches to the study of museums and their collections.

We will study the museum in modern times through various themes which are connected to current issues and controversies. We will examine the politics and ethics of collecting in a wide variety of museums and analyze the changing position of the museum in a globalized world. Furthermore, the museum as medium will be studied and the narratives of the collections will be analyzed. What are the strategies by which museums interpret, organise and display their collections? Special attention will be given to representation and canonization in museums.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • gain knowledge of museum theory and practice in modern times;

  • gain insight into current issues and controversies concerning museums;

  • practice their communicative skills in debates and the presentation of their own research topic;

  • develop their research skills in formulating a relevant research question and writing a paper on this subject of their own choice.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

Attendance is compulsory. Students can miss a maximum of two seminars, provided they present a valid reason beforehand. Students who have missed more than two seminars will have to apply to the Examination Board in order to obtain permission to further follow and complete the course.

Assessment method


  • Active participation and assignments (15%)

  • Research paper (70%)

  • Oral presentation (15%)


The final grade is the average of the three grades (15%, 15% and 70%). The participation must have been passed. A student passes the class if the weighted average is a passing grade (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit consists of two parts:

  • When a student fails their final paper, the resit assessment is a revision of the paper (70%).

  • When a student fails their oral presentation and/or active participation and assignments, the resit assessment involves alternative assignments (15% oral presentation and 15% participation and assignments).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Readings will be made available via Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.
For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


  • Fieldtrips are an important part of the course. Students will be expected to make frequent visits to museums in order to analyze exhibitions.