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Secondary schools


Museum collections offer unique opportunities for bringing to life the subjects that students are studying, offering new forms of historical evidence, scientific insight or artistic inspiration. However, we know that bringing students out of school can sometimes be difficult. For this reason, we don’t just offer students the opportunity to visit us, we can come and deliver most sessions in your classroom using real museum objects. See individual session information for further details.

All sessions are free and can be organised by contacting the Learning & Access team. 

Full details of visits and workshops are available in the ‌Secondary Schools Programme 2017/18 (PDF, 1,010 KB)


Research visits

The University of St Andrews’ museums service cares for objects covering a wide range of topics, including local history, art, science and the history of science, costume, classics, geology, world cultures, religion and more besides.

School groups are very welcome to arrange research visits to investigate topics of interest that are covered by the collections.  Visits will be supported by a curator who can help pupils select objects that will be useful to their research, assist them in getting the most out of the collections and help them to handle objects safely. 

Visits can be made to any museum venues or behind-the-scenes to the museum stores.

Get in touch to discuss how we can assist you with the topics which interest you.  


Creative visits

The collections cared for by the University of St Andrews’ museums service provide a fantastic source of inspiration for pupils studying the expressive arts or looking to develop their writing potential.

Classes are very welcome to take inspiration from the treasures at MUSA, the atmosphere of the Edwardian Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History, the changing displays at the Gateway Galleries or the rarely seen curiosities at the MUSA Collections Centre.  Curatorial and Learning & Access staff will be on hand to assist pupils gaining ideas for the visual arts, dance, drama, music or writing.

There may be restrictions on the types of materials that can be used in the galleries.  Visits to the MUSA Collections Centre are limited to 10 pupils in a group.  Please get in touch to book a creative visit.


Themed visits

Themed sessions are offered on a variety of subjects.  All sessions can be tailored to meet schools’ requirements in terms of length and focus.  All sessions meet specific objectives from Curriculum for Excellence and are designed with specific subject areas in mind.

All workshops are free and take place either in St Andrews at MUSA or the Bell Pettigrew Museum or in your classroom in Fife or Dundee.

Full details can be found in 

Expressive Arts

#Fact: Narrative paintings, historical lies?

Discover how artists seek to influence us in the way they create their depictions of historical events. Pupils put what they learn into practice by creating a representation of a contemporary event.

Prints and Poetry

What is a poet trying to tell us? What stories do artists try to tell? This workshop enables pupils to answer both these questions, using creative processes to help them understand how to 'read' artwork and deconstruct poetry before they use what they've learnt to create a monoprint in response to a poem.


Literacy and English

Just the facts? Creative writing with museum objects

Museum objects can provide inspiration that fires the imagination and gets the creative juices flowing.  This workshop allows pupils to get hands-on with real items from the collections and use them in a number of writing tasks, including poetry, prose and travel writing.



Adapt to survive

Visit the Edwardian Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History to discover how animals survive and why some become extinct. The visit will allow students to see evidence of extinct creatures, including the dodo, moa, St Kilda house mouse and Tasmanian wolf, as well as endangered creatures like the kiwi and Gangetic river dolphin.


Social Studies

Recording Scotland: Art and the impact of World War II

See artworks from the Recording Scotland collection, which was created in the 1940s to record areas under threat from bombing or industrialisation.  Pupils will consider what the collection tells us about thoughts and fears in Britain during the war and assess the impact of the scheme.  

Truth, lies or twisting reality?

Investigate artworks and artefacts from different designers and different time periods and consider how they use subtle details in influence an opinion.  Is giving a subjective take on something same as propaganda or out and out lying? This session can act as an introduction to or build upon existing knowledge of bias in source material. The theme is general but can be given an additional focus on the Reformation or the War of the Three Kingdoms.

If objects could talk: Artefacts as sources

Make history come alive by allowing pupils to handle real museum objects and learn how to “listen” to them.  By the end of the session pupils should have the skills to use historical objects as source material to use alongside written evidence. Sessions take a general approach but can be given an additional focus on the Reformation, the War of the Three Kingdoms or World War II.

Local studies

Examine the role that the University of St Andrews has played on the town, Fife, Scotland and the world by investigating the evidence held in the museum’s collections.  Consider why Scotland’s first University was founded where it was and when it was and how the local area has influenced the University over the last 600 years.  This should aid students in their research into their local study.


The MUSA Young Artist Award

Availability: Spring term

Each year the Museum of the University of St Andrews runs a hugely popular art competition for schools in Fife aimed at helping students develop their artistic ability, explore work by a well-known artist and gain inspiration for their own work. In the winter term MUSA’s Learning & Access team offer free workshops to help children prepare. The theme for 2017 will be light and dark. For details of this year’s theme and workshops see the MUSA Young Artist Award page.


MUSA, The Scores, St Andrews

Classrooms in Fife  


Interactive tours

Dedicated and knowledgeable Learning & Access staff can offer interactive, participatory tours of MUSA or the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History tailored to meet the specific focus of your group. Whether you’re interested in art, a particular period of history, how to use objects as evidence or how to create an exhibition, we can deliver an interesting tour to meet your needs. Tours usually last around 40 minutes.

Availability: Autumn and Summer terms


MUSA, The Scores, St Andrews

The Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History, St Mary’s Quadrangle, St Andrews 


Image of art class at temporary exhibition


Longer projects

If you are interested in working with us on a longer term project please contact the Learning & Access team.


Can’t find something that works for you?

If you would like to visit our venues or would like us to visit you but can find nothing suitable please contact us and we will endeavour to organise a useful and engaging visit.