Museums Essentials : Working Ethically

Museum Essentials : 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's Associations 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. We will be hosting Twitter discussions around the different modules to help individuals connect. These will be advertised by the Museums Association and via a direct email to you as a learner.have a discussion area at the end of each lesson and this is a way to discuss the content, your reflections, the impacts on your professional practice as well as seeking insights and information from others.

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 Bishop and 270 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

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24 Lessons included in this course