Volunteering and Student Projects

Research and Cultural Collections has a vibrant programme of student projects for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.  Participants work alongside the curatorial team to undertake projects that are beneficial to both parties, taking into account the student's areas of interest.


Types of projects:

  • Exhibition planning and development
  • Interpretation
  • Documentation
  • Digitisation and web development
  • Cataloguing and research
  • Basic and preventative conservation


Each project allows students the chance to work with a wide range of artefacts, broadening both their knowledge and understanding of different types of university collection. Students are encouraged to contribute their own ideas and thoughts, with a friendly and stimulating environment to inspire and support them. How often and when students volunteer is very flexible. Previous students have done anything from one afternoon a week, to five days a week for an extended period, usually for a work or academic placement. Similarly, the projects are very varied, and can be suited to each volunteer’s needs and academic timetable. Below are just a few examples of some of the projects and tasks carried out by previous volunteers.

Examples of Projects

Aim Higher Archaeological Workshop

Two students designed and implemented a workshop about archaeology for a local school. This gave them experience in designing activities at secondary school level, and allowed them to use museum objects as a way of developing interest in archaeological theory.

Conservation Duties

Students have helped in the everyday housekeeping of collections, such as monitoring conditions, carrying out basic cleaning of objects and applying wax as a preventative measure to sculptures. As an example, one student researched basic conservation treatments for an archaeological relief, liaising with specialists and the local museum council for advice.

Interpreting Exhibitions

Students have helped create and interpret several university exhibitions. Contributions can range from designing small exhibitions, to creating media and promotion tools, such as posters or leaflets. Several students have also investigated digital interpretation, and have updated our collections database with images and interpretation.

Outcomes and benefits

Our volunteers have the chance to gain practical experience in many relevant areas of museum work. For those wishing to pursue a career in the heritage and museum sector, this is extremely beneficial, as it provides the skills that employers seek in this highly competitive field. Previous volunteers have been accepted onto various prestigious schemes and jobs, in places such as the Tate, the National Trust and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. Others have undertaken further vocational studies, and a recent volunteer has just been selected for the prestigious Wallace Collection Internship in London. However, volunteering is not just for those seeking a career in the museum/heritage sector, as the projects will help with students’ personal development and employability. Project management, public speaking and teamwork are just some of the interpersonal skills volunteers will acquire, all of which are excellent additions to a CV. The atmosphere is also very sociable, and outings and trips to the pub ensure that new friends are quickly established, and that volunteering is fun as well as productive.

Case Study

 Lucy Wheeler

BA History of Fine Arts 2007-2010

Volunteer from 2009 to 2011

After using the Collections to aid her studies of pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi for her undergraduate dissertation, Lucy became a regular volunteer with the Research and Cultural Collections. In particular she undertook detailed research into the former Halls of Residence known as University House, which culminated in her organising an event for its Alumni and producing an interpretive leaflet. After graduating in 2010 she continued working with RCC, whilst furthering her experience by completing an education internship at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This  helped her to be selected for the highly competitive education internship at the Wallace Collection in London, bringing her one step closer to her career aspiration of working in art gallery education.

How to apply

We ask that you complete a short application form and depending upon the volume of applications and the time of year, informal interviews may take place. Please see our full volunteer policy for further information before you apply.