MA International Heritage Management by distance learning

Are you looking to develop your career as a heritage manager? Are you already working in the heritage industry and looking to further develop your skills? 

The MA in International Heritage Management provides an advanced qualification in heritage management for those seeking qualifications in this sector. It equips you with the skills needed for museums work, conservation and regeneration, the management of historic buildings and landscapes, and cultural tourism. 

We also offer a full-time MA in International Heritage Management on campus; see International Heritage Management MA.

Alicia Gurney

Alicia Gurney

“I felt that a postgraduate course would help to clarify which aspect of the industry would best suit my interests and abilities, as well as providing me with a grounding in the subject and the necessary qualification.”

This programme is managed by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, run jointly by the University and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and draws on the experience of one of the largest independent museums in Britain.

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

  • Critical Approaches to Heritage
  • Heritage Conservation Management
  • Heritage Management Practice
  • Heritage Interpretation
  • Research Skills and Methods

Each module lasts two weeks. You will also attend at least one five-day Study Schools (one available each year) and complete a 15,000-word dissertation. The Study Schools are extremely valuable in reinforcing elements of the programme you have just studied and provides an excellent opportunity to socialise with your fellow students and tutors. 

Most modules are assessed by a 4,000-word report-style assignment.

Why study this course

  1. A unique partnership – Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IICH) is a partnership formed over 30 years between the University of Birmingham and the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. You will have the opportunity to work with museum professionals and world-leading academics to enhance your learning experience.

  2. Be a part of an active online community - studying by distance learning is not a lonely experience here at the Ironbridge Institute. You will get to meet people from all over world - virtually – which will impact on your experience through learning about a variety of different contexts within which heritage is being operated globally.

  3. 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.

  4. Access to materials - 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.

  5. Personal 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 five core modules:

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. 

Heritage Conservation Management

Everyone responsible for a part of the heritage is working with a finite resource which must be managed appropriately to ensure its long term survival. Key concepts such as stewardship and sustainability are considered in this module. The premise that creative conservation can only be achieved through economic viability and accountability runs through the sessions. Core training is provided in conservation and planning legislation, visitor management, integrated management of historic properties, collections management and carrying capacity.

Heritage Management Practice

This module aims to outline the range of practical and professional skills that are required in running a heritage site. It looks at the issues surrounding financial management and fundraising, the management of people, including staff and volunteers as well the wider national and international context of museum charging, arts sponsorship, and external funding. The module also covers the marketing of heritage sites, including the increasing importance of digital media and social networking. Assessment is through the creation of a feasibility study for a new heritage attraction.

Heritage Interpretation

This module explores good practice in interpretation, the art of revealing to visitors the meaning and significance of objects and places. The philosophy of interpretation is considered and issues such as selectivity and bias are debated. Interpretation is considered in the contexts of recreation management, tourism, education and museums. Key concepts include communication theory, interpretative planning and programming, exhibition design and layout, visitor behaviour, interpretative media, language for interpretation, monitoring and evaluation.

Research Skills and Methods

This module provides the core research skills to consider different aspects of heritage by understanding and applying a range of techniques of data collection in practical settings, including investigating the environment (using archaeological sources and paper and digital cartographic resources, observing the landscape and the built environment); investigating archives (researching paper and digital manuscript and printed and visual sources); exploring objects and artefacts (using materials in museums and museum websites and private and public cultural settings); and researching intangible materials (exploring oral history and traditions and public and private memories).

The module also considers ‘heritage’ as a contemporary lived phenomenon, one that is global in extent and yet local in its experience, essentially a ‘public’ resource that is inevitably contested and both uniting and divisive in its effects. Accordingly, students will be introduced to the techniques whereby these aspects of ‘heritage’ are studied, including approaches to its management and recording, the communities that make associations with particular heritages, and the attributes of heritage sites and landscapes.

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows: 

  • Full-time: £7,650
  • Part-time: £3,825 

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

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding

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

Online resources

This is a web-based programme which covers all of the components of the Ironbridge Institute’s conventional MA programme. It is delivered using Canvas, a virtual learning environment which provides teaching and support materials. It is recommended that you have regular access to a computer with internet access (with at least a 56k modem, and preferably Broadband) so that you can get involved in online discussions. Contributing to discussions an½d reflecting on other students’ postings is considered a requirement of the course. For those students who can only access a computer occasionally, and who do require supporting materials on CD, it may be possible for you to only use the Canvas site for online discussions. This might require internet access for about one hour a week.

Offline resources

You will need access to a university library close to where you live. As a student registered with us, you will have access to University of Birmingham libraries, but you will probably need to obtain books and journals more locally. In certain circumstances, subject to copyright legislation, we may be able to provide some additional printed materials. Home students can usually access other Universities’ libraries through the SCONUL system once registered with the IIICH.  

You are also expected to improve your learning by visiting heritage sites during two years you are on this course. 


Throughout the course, you will be supported by a personal tutor who will provide guidance on your assessed assignments. You will normally remain with the same tutor throughout the programme. They will be available by email and during UK office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) by phone. We aim to reply to your email or, if we cannot speak on the phone when you ring, to return your call within 48 hours. You will also meet your tutor for a personal tutorial on the introductory day of the programme and at study periods in Ironbridge or Birmingham.

Course delivery

The programme begins in late September or early October with an Induction Day in Birmingham on the first Saturday of term which allows you to meet your tutors and fellow students and to familiarise yourself with the way the programme works, particularly the online materials which are used for all the taught modules. Each module is taught online via WebCT and involves regular online tasks or discussions to facilitate your learning. 

Full Time Delivery 

The programme follows this pattern over one year (dates are approximate): 

  • Induction Day (late September/early October) 
  • Critical Approaches to Heritage (November) 
  • Heritage Conservation Management; Research Skills and Methods (February) 
  • Heritage Management Practice; Heritage Interpretation; Five-day Study School (May) 
  • Dissertation (August) 

Part Time Delivery 

The programme follows this pattern over the two years (dates are approximate): 

First year

  • Induction Day (late September/early October)
  • Critical Approaches to Heritage  (October)
  • Heritage Conservation Management (November – December)
  • Research Skills and Methods (January – April)
  • Five-day Study School (June) 

Second year

  • Heritage Management Practice (October – December)
  • Heritage Interpretation (February – April)
  • Dissertation (May – September)

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

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.