Museums Essentials : Working Ethically

Working Ethically

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About this course

Working Ethically is one of a number of courses that sits within the Museums Association's Museum Essentials Programme. 

This course will help you think about your professional practice and ethical considerations in the sector, specifically focusing on the Museums Association's Code of Ethics for Museums as a foundation for this reflection.

The course is divided into 5 sections with 5 lessons in each section.

We hope by providing a mix of information, exercises, resources and signposting you will be able to develop your confidence and competence around your own ethical practice. and encourage others to work within this ethical framework.

Working Ethically supports the Individual and Institutional Integrity competency in the Museums Association's Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA). For more information about the AMA please click here

Everyday Ethics

Ethics affects our practice on a daily basis yet we often think of it within the context of big ethical dilemmas. This course will help you apply good ethical practice daily in your thinking and actions.

Ethics at First

By improving your understanding we hope you begin to apply it at the beginning of projects or activities - using the code proactively and positively to affect change at first rather than at last.

Ethics for Everyone

The Code has three principles - public engagement & benefit, stewardship of collections and individual & institutional integrity - regardless of your role you have a role to play.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to go through this course?

5-15 hours, which means each section of the course has a two-hour focus. This is only a guide. You may learn at a different pace, you may want to delve deeper into a particular subject area, you may want more conversations with colleagues, your team and beyond. The beauty of an online learning course is that you can take as long and a little time working your way through it.

Is there a course start date?

There isn't a course start date. This is an open course that you can start and finish whenever you want. As an individual Museums Association member you have full access to the content whilst you remain a member.

Do you have to complete each section in the order it appears?

The course has been designed so that there are no mandatory sections or exercises. This means that you can be complete them in whichever order is most meaningful for you. Dip in and dip out of the different sections as and when you need help or choose to complete the course section by section, exercise by exercise.

Where can I find more information about ethics?

We have a range of resources available on our website

Do I have to complete all of the exercises?

The exercises have been developed to help you reflect, capture and focus your learning, you can complete them in whichever order you wish and you may find that some of the exercises are less relevant for you and as such you may choose not to complete them.

Is there an opportunity to discuss our learning with other learners?

We don't have a discussion area within each course, but look to share your reflections with your own network or peers.

Do I have to be a member to participate in the Museum Association's Museum Essentials online learning programme?

Yes. Museum Essentials is a membership benefit for all our individual members. To become a member visit our website:

Do you release new content every week or every month?

No we don't. Unlike other online learning courses where they adopt a 'drip drip' approach to content we have made all the content available from the point of enrolment. The reason we have done this is we didn't want to add to any 'pressure' to complete at a pace decided by us. We know that life is unpredictable, people have different commitments and learn in different ways - so we wanted to build in as much flexibility as possible which means you can choose to complete everything in a week or over 6 months - it is up to you.

Can I save content from this course?

Yes. Throughout the course there are links and more detailed downloadable content. We would encourage you, if you wish, to download the content or save the links if that supports your learning. We also know that some of you may be working in remote locations, stores or on the move where connectivity may be an issue - so downloading them may help. But remember as long as you remain a member of the Museums Association you will be able to access the Museum Essentials courses and content.

What do I do if I have any questions about the course or Museum Essentials?

There is functionality within the platform that enables you to send questions as a learner to the Museums Association. In addition feel free to email the course leader directly their contact details will be available on the Museums Associations website.

How do I navigate the content?

The course is divided into five sections and within each section there are 5 lessons. Whilst the content has been designed with a beginning, a middle and an end you can progress flexibly through the content. Use the Next button to take you through the course until you reach a section or a lesson you want to engage with.

Meet the expert

Tamsin Russell

Tamsin Russell has worked in the sector for 18 years. Her focus is workforce and organisational development to realise the potential of individuals and the sector, through coaching, mentoring and delivery; and in recent years has developed online learning resources to support development.


Ben Lewis and 1136 others have booked this class

Rowan Brown

Well done, a truly fantastic resource. Thank you

John Rochester

A very good broad brush approach with lots of real life examples and sound guidance. Well worth the time and effort, will now share with the team. Thanks

Mike Tyler

Thorough and thought provoking.

Anna Reeve

Clare Lehovsky

Jo Murfitt

Thoroughly enjoyed the course content. Opened my eyes to a formular I can use and share with my colleagues and employers. Made me more confident about accessing and understanding information on the Museum Association website. Would've liked each page to be downloadable (Word doc) and printable as I don't always have internet access and sometimes find continuously reading from screen problematic.

Rosanna Harrison

generally very good, especially the case studies which are included to review. It took a lot longer than the 15 hours to complete however, that was the guideline amount I think the website said it should normally take.

Mary Owen

Really interesting and relevant for the museum sector, although in our situation - a tiny, very local museum in a small village, it is perhaps not so relevant in all aspects of the course.

Rebecca Green

Excellent course. Thank you very much!

Andrea Dumbrell

Lynsey Ford

Ellis Murrell

Case studies were very interesting and useful. Most of the '30 minute' exercises are completable in 5 minutes or less, though.

Tina Pittock

Really excellent course.

Lucy Cave

Florence Sutton

I was disappointed that there was nothing about cultural sensitivity in collections management. For example, objects that have to be worked with and handled/stored/displayed in certain ways because of ethical issues surrounding their backgrounds, and how this can be implemented in the context of usual collection management practices.

Richard Rose

Megan Green

Sinead Cross

Really great introduction and overview of the MA Code of Ethics. Challenges you to constantly reflect on how what you are learning can be applied to your role and to your organisation. Would like more video case studies and perhaps a few impact reports by museums on how a project has gone that has embedded ethical practices and critical thinking involved. Thank you for producing! Would like to learn more about ethical sponsorship.

Ramkrishna Sharma

RAF Museum

Josephine Dowding

Really like the videos and the quizzes. I would have liked to have seen more quizzes.

Sarah Kingham

Charly Robson

Laura Biddle

Hannah Keddie


Ellen Weineck

Daniel Johnson

I thought the course was very interesting and helpful. It would be great to see an additional section in the Code of Ethics on ethical interpretation. It has been touched on and alluded to in each of the sections, but the narratives we share and the stories we tell should have a clear ethical guideline.

Paul Finegan

Very good course. Good use of reading, watching and practical activities.

Victoria Jessop

Really enjoyed the course and reading the case studies. Its only fault were the test questions at the end of each module: they weren't useful in gauging how much of the Code of Ethics has sunk in. For example, most of the test questions simply asked "how many points are in principle 1/2/3". I don't think this is a good test of knowledge. I believe it would work better if the questions were specific about points that the candidate would actually need to consider in their career.

Emilia Bazydlo

Stephanie Harper

Very helpful and informative

Connie Wells

Peter Dilley

Simon Williams

Miriam Fraser

Very useful insight for someone new to Museum Education. A great overview with informative links - which then lead to many other interesting links! Lots to think about going forward

Tamsin Silvey

Thomas Ardill

María José

Daryl Tappin

Miss Helen Reynolds

Ruth Leach

Marion McCrindle

Excellent case studies to relate ethics into practice. Very thought provoking.

David Bardsley

Liz Stewart

Pascal Lafargue

Katie Small

Abigail Morris

Very informative!

Rachel Jackson

Very good format, it would be good to be able to down load and print a work book.

Laura Waters

This was a really useful refresher for me - and helpful for bookmarking some practical resources. Thank you!


I loved this course. I learned so much and it made me think critically about so many different issues. Thank you.

Lois Garrod-Smith

It needs more interactives and less reading tasks. Other than that good and great that you can take your time to complete it.

Emma Long

Piroonmas Kajorndechakul

Jayne Lister

emma gibson

This course was laid out very well, I learned a lot from this course.

Shannen Johnson

Richard Swinscoe

Instructive, clear and helpful.

Thorough and detailed presentation. I found the personal clips and case studies very useful. Surprised how much was relevant for myself as an artist working with museums and archives.

Alison Iddon

Emily Green

Was interesting but could have done with more engagement and direction from the tasks when asked to reflect.

Minji Kim

Selina Metzler

Elizabeth Gray

Paul Ellis

Andrew Derych

Really helped to raise my awareness of the ethical issues that museums face and our code to help us respond in an ethical manner

Dominic Rogan

sonia sagoo

Very informative and knowledge gained with course is going to be productive in the near future.

Benjamin Drew

Absolutely great course. really broadened my horizon on what Working Ethically means and really brough the MA's Code of Ethics to my attention and now I feel like I know it inside-out. Will be using this more in my professional work.

Emily Grassi

Incredibly useful and empowering, thank you for your work!

Claire Frampton

I feel I have a better understanding of the Code of Ethics for Museums and more confident in my understanding of how it is used.

Zoe Utley

Rebecca Laverty

Sally Newton

Excellent and thought provoking

Chelsea Eves

This course was really comprehensive with plenty of additional resources and documents to look at.

Emma Cowdell

This is a brilliant course to help you understand the importance of ethics in museums!

Andrew McDonald

Lydia Meehan

Glenn Wheeler

Karen Johnston

Alexandra Rose

Charlie Davis

Caroline Ingram

Very insightful course with great use of lots of case studys

William Hankey

Fern Bulfin

Ruth Garde

Sophie Rogers

Some of the information towards the end of the course was a bit repetitive.

Sally Carter

Far too much 'Go off and reflect on what you have learnt' or simply repeating everything that's in the Code of Ethics. The only thing I really gained from this were the useful case studies and these should have been at the core of the training - taking us through the issues point by point and asking for our opinions at each stage so that we get to apply what we have learnt from reading the Code.

Pippa Ketley

Paul Ellis

Eva Maria Lynch

Kyle Young

Julia Buckley

Sionyn Foulkes Jones

great course even though at penamenmawr museum we've always followed an ethical approach i have picked up new ideas to facilitate ethical thinking. Many Thanks

Bradley Heinink

Anna Garnett

Really fantastic - so enjoyable and useful, especially during lockdown and remote working.

Luis Claudio Lopez Morillo

Faye McCormick

Vicen Carrio

Thanks, Due to other work commitments, the course took longer for me to finish than I anticipated. I enjoyed and learnt new things that I will discussed with my line manager to improve the ethics in my job. Will it be possible to send to my email ( two of the documents that I couldn't have access? The names of the two documents are: "Principle 2 Stewardship of Collections" and "Principle 3 Individual and Institutional Integrity" Yours, Vicen

Anne-Marie Ashman

Joe Waterfield

Generally a good introduction to ethics in museums. There were some issues with broken links, and sometimes links went to a general page for ethics rather than to the specific page required. Too many of the summary quizes had 'all of the above' answers. Some more general case study 'what would you do?' ethical dilemma questions might have been useful.


Joanna Bellis

A good refresher as it makes you really think about how the Code could and should be applied. The case studies are helpful and plentiful, especially the Ethical Dilemmas - although if you are a detail person and read all the links, anticipate 20+ hours to complete the course! As the course progresses, some of the exercises become repetitive and the Quiz questions somewhat simplistic. I enjoyed the film clips as a break from the written exercises - perhaps include more of these in a future version?

Kristy Turner

Really helped me to focus on all the different areas of my job where the code of ethics should have an impact.

Christopher Key

Quiz questions to test knowledge could be more challenging!

Caroline Grounds

Conal Priest

Freya Samuel

Eleanor Whitehead

Joseph John Murray Lewis

Mark S Cobain

Lyle Probert

Rebecca Penfold

I thought that this course was a little confusing, it could have been organised a little clearer. There were also some articles and links that did not work, did not exist anymore or led to the wrong place which was a little confusing. But overall a very insightful and helpful course.

Kate Murphy

Very good introduction to Code of Ethics and ethical thinking with helpful case studies.

Elania Pieragostini

Rebecca Wiseman

Connor Welham

Terri Nelson

Ellie Jennings

I wish it was more interactive. The content was beneficial to my learning I just find it hard to learn purely from reading!

Dean McColl

Ani Sutton

very good - good to do this one after the other two as it all feeds in and makes a lot of sense

Finlay Raffle

Ellie King

Jess Webb

Really insightful and learned a lot

Joana Vieira Varela


Harriet Grimes

Sian Hammerton-Fraser

Informative, thought-provoking and accessible. Thank you.

Yeoh Wen Fei

Michelle Johnson

Jane ApThomas

Megan Munro

Most of the course was interesting and engaging but some of it was rather repetitive. I think I 'got' the message about integrity and transparency fairly early on.....

Kimberly Hussey

Rachel Weir

Elizabeth Elliott

clare davies

Katey Goodwin

I really enjoyed this course. It was laid out in a clear way, going through each of the Codes in turn, giving useful case studies and time for reflection. I will be creating a presentation for our staff and Board to demonstrate how the Code should be embedded in everything we do. I think it is already to a large extent, but as we are not a museum as such, we haven't explicitly shared the Code with staff, which we should be doing. The reflection sessions in the course, however, have shown me that we are an ethical organisation and we do discuss ethics at our meetings, but we don't have a lot of it written down into policies. I will endeavour to change that!

merrydith russell

Jess Hornby

Amber Hadley

Rebecca Bussey

Tom Carter

Very informative and well constructed course. The case studies were particularly interesting and I would have liked to see more of them.

Rachel Hesketh

Hayley Du-Buisson

David Webb

Thorough and provides thought-provoking material throughout. Took me way longer than the advertised hours - think I must deep-dived into all the links and exercises.

Anna Thompson

Victoria Haddock

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