UNIVERSITY TEACHING

The Ashmolean Museum is deeply committed to providing access to its world class collections and expertise for teaching and research. Our collections are an exceptional resource to enrich teaching across academic disciplines, and our curators provide scholarly research and displays which act as a bridge between the University’s academic community and a broad public. 

OUR TEACHING

The Ashmolean has always been a teaching museum. From its foundation in the late 17th century, when the first Museum building incorporated a laboratory, the scholarship of Ashmolean Curators has played a vital role in the education of Oxford students and the shaping of the Oxford curriculum.

Every year, curators supervise doctoral and masters research, convene seminars, give lectures and hold classes and tutorials rooted in their specialist expertise, both in the Museum’s study rooms and galleries and in the University at large. Curators teach whole courses that reflect their specialisms and contribute to many others, collaborating with academic colleagues in subject areas that can be enriched by access to the Museum’s holdings, for example Archaeology and Anthropology, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Ancient and Modern History, Classics, History of Art, Fine Art and Islamic, Indian, Chinese and Japanese studies.

Since 2012, the University Engagement Programme, generously funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, has worked to explore the wider potential of the Ashmolean as a resource for teaching across the University.  The result has been to broaden the range of subjects benefitting from object-centred teaching and to enable more cross-disciplinary partnerships to flourish among the Museum’s peerless collections.

These collaborations have yielded new courses, reconfigurations of existing papers and a raft of new opportunities for students and their tutors to engage with the products of material and visual culture.  As result, the Museum now regularly provides teaching in Geography, English, Medieval and Modern Languages (French, Italian, German), Neurology, Psychiatry and Theology as well has having developed new opportunities for members of faculty and early career scholars to develop their skills in object-based teaching and learning.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

The University Engagement Programme offers a number of opportunities for members of faculty, early-career researchers and undergraduates to engage with the Ashmolean’s collections and curators.

WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY

'As we worked with Ashmolean objects and paid attention to their connections with our topic, I began to realise that they would yield a great deal of information about the circulation of people and ideas – information that I could not possibly get from texts. I am currently writing my essay in a much more thoughtful way and think it is richer for the experience. I don’t think I could go back to an 'object-less' world.'
MSt Student, Early Modern History

'I have really enjoyed this paper because it was so different to anything else that we have done/will do. The things I have read and learnt have made me more aware of the infiltration of material culture in literature, and I will now automatically read with more of an eye to this. I am also interested in manuscript culture and books-as-things; so this course has helped me to think about how this might overlap with things-in-books. I would certainly chose to do this course again.'
Y2 Undergraduate, English

‘There is something really special about encountering objects that may have been owned or made by people you are studying, and becoming aware of a whole world that is only vaguely present in the texts, but must have been hugely important to individuals trying to make sense of it. When I look at a drawing of a specimen made by someone in the 17th century I have to recognise that their science isn’t my science, and what they saw isn’t what I see. That has fascinating implications for the way I do research, and maybe for how subjective that research is.’
Y3 Undergraduate, Plant Sciences

ONLINE OBJECT STUDY

The Ashmolean is a founder member and an active promoter of Cabinet, Oxford’s award-winning online study and revision platform for university teaching, and for innovative collections projects. Any paper taught with objects from the Museum’s collections can be uploaded on to the Cabinet site, to enable students to pursue further object and text study within a richly interactive digital environment. 

List of site pages