MA Heritage and Identity by distance learning

Heritage is the key to identity. Whilst most heritage programmes focus on built or buried remains our programme looks at the idea that heritage is much more than a solid building, but groups of people and communities. It will let you explore the complex ways in which heritage actively contributes to the construction of identities in societies, providing an idea of heritage and identity across different continents and cultures.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Distance learning

Study Options: Part time

Duration: 24 months part-time

Start date: September


The course is provided by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage which is a dedicated postgraduate research and teaching facility for programmes in Heritage Management and the Historic Environment. It is operated as an equal partnership between the University of Birmingham and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust building on both institutions’ experience to provide postgraduate programmes of high quality and value.

You will study three core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • Critical Approaches to Heritage
  • Valuing and Representing Cultural Heritage
  • Research Skills, Sources and Methods in Heritage Studies

 You will also choose three optional modules and complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Why study this course

The main advantage of studying by distance learning is the flexibility. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with work or family commitments.

Career changing

A qualification from the University of Birmingham can be the springboard to promotion with your current employer, the platform from which to launch a new career or simply a way to become more effective in your current role.

Studying by distance learning has the benefit of allowing you to develop your career without having to leave employment. It also means that you can apply new knowledge and insights to your working life while you are still studying; many students choose to tackle work-related topics in their dissertations. And of course, studying at the University of Birmingham is a rewarding and enriching experience that brings about significant personal development.


Although self-study is central to doing a programme distance learning support is always available from tutors at the University. Our programmes are designed to keep you in touch with fellow students and tutors. The 'virtual learning environment' provides a focal point and helps provide a structure for your learning.


Our study materials are produced by academic staff in the specialist areas and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment'. They contain aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with a course handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need including email addresses so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Personal tutors

In addition to the full-time Birmingham based tutors you will be assigned a personal tutor. Personal tutors are available to answer questions regarding the content of your programme, and also to give advice and provide clarification if you don't understand something, for example what an assignment question demands.


You will study three core modules taken in the first year:

Critical Approaches to Heritage

This module seeks to introduce the core values of heritage and looks at the evolving national and international charters and systems that underpin the delivery of heritage protection. It looks at heritage in all its forms: tangible and intangible, official and unofficial and critically examines how heritage works and happens. 

Valuing and Representing Cultural Heritage

This module will explore the ways in which 'heritage' is presented to us – as places, landscapes, as buildings, sites and monuments, as single objects and as collections, that are held to be of value.

Research Skills, Sources and Methods in Heritage Studies

This module provides students with the core research skills to consider different aspects of heritage and identity by understanding and applying a range of techniques of data collection in practical settings.

You will also take three optional modules in your second year. The list of available modules in any one year can vary, depending on staff specialisms and availability. Modules available typically include:

  • British Cultural Heritage
  • Exploring Cultural Heritage
  • Faith, Religion and Cultural Heritage
  • Popular Culture and Heritage
  • Post-Colonial Heritages
  • Region, Locality and Cultural Heritage
  • Representations of Cultural Heritage

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee.

  • The fee for 2015/16 is £3,645.

As this is a part-time programme, the above fee is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about fees for international students

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

Learn more about applying

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

Although much of the course is delivered through our ‘virtual learning environment,’ support is always available. You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you have access to a wide range of online resources too.

You also have the opportunity to meet other students and academic staff through online chats and discussion forums.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Graduates from the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage can boast a wide combination of skills that can be applied to a number of careers, including museums work, conservation and regeneration, the management of historic buildings and landscapes, and cultural tourism.

Over the past five years, over 93% of our postgraduates were work and/or further study six months after graduation. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Arts Council Wales; BBC; Birmingham Museums Trust; National Trust; National History Museum; and Tower of London.