The Order of Things: The Museum and its Objects (V4137A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

Drawing from the extensive collections of objects from around the world at the Victoria and Albert Museum, this module will address the fundamental questions of how and why these global objects were brought into the Museum. With a focus on objects from the Islamic collections in particular, on their material histories and the cultures from which they came, we will examine the motivations and mechanisms that were involved in the movement of objects to the museum and the contexts in which they were displayed and received. We will consider the history of global collecting at the V&A, the legacy of the Universal Exhibitions and practices of copying and replication that radically changed the way we view objects and their images today.

The focus of the module is on a particular body of material drawn from the collections of the museum, dating from a specific time and place; this is employed as a basis to study issues in museology and museum history as well as in art history and the history of culture. Thus the focus will inevitably be on how 19th-21st century art history has interpreted and explained these objects. You undertake some general reading in the history of museums and debates in museology.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Portfolio)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2022/23. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: