MA World Heritage Studies

Photograph of Souvenirs of egypt in cairo and luxor, from photographer Michael Hughes' Souvenirs collection

World Heritage, both tangible and intangible, increasingly affects a significant proportion of the world’s population and is now an essential concept for all engaged in the protection, development and management of heritage.

This unique one-year programme is aimed at those who wish to acquire both a deeper understanding of the concepts and processes surrounding World Heritage in its cultural forms (tangible and intangible), its natural forms and as cultural landscapes.  This course will provide you with necessary skills that will allow you to critically appraise and effectively manage World Heritage and its impacts in a sustainable manner.  It is linked to the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site, providing you with a unique academic experience and offering you access to unrivalled resources and over 25 years of management expertise.

As well as providing you with an excellent grounding for working in the heritage sector, the course offers ideal preparation for PhD study.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 12 months full-time

Start date: September

Details

The MA World Heritage Studies draws upon international cases and practical experience and will provide you with an insight into the processes of World Heritage inscription and management. In addition it will allow you to take an informed position in policy debates regarding the implications of designation for local and national identities, community well-being and tourism and associated development.

You will study five core modules:

  • Critical Approaches to Heritage
  • Issues in World Heritage Management
  • Tourism Management at World Heritage Sites
  • World Heritage Case Study
  • Research Methods and Skills

You will also choose one optional module from a selection. The list of available modules in any one year can vary, depending on staff specialisms and availability. Modules available typically include:

  • Heritage Interpretation
  • Heritage Conservation Management
  • Heritage Management Practices
  • Digital in a Cultural World

The programme also features a visit to the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO, Paris, to learn directly of the challenges of linking the protection and conservation of Sites with present and future environmental, social and economic needs.

You will complete the MA with a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice, relevant to World Heritage.

Why study this course

The Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, based at the University of Birmingham, has nearly thirty years of experience in the heritage field. It takes a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of heritage, seeks to equip all of its students with appropriate management skills and has an unrivalled global network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers engaged in the heritage and related sectors. You will benefit from our research, our networks and partnerships and our dedication and enthusiasm to better understand and manage cultural heritage around the world.

In addition, the skills and experience you will develop by studying the programme will be well-regarded by prospective employers in the heritage sector:
 
"Intangible Cultural Heritage is very much integrated in the discourse surrounding World Heritage and we very much welcome this programme of study which allow students the opportunity to explore the issues surrounding the management of intangible heritage, its inter-connectedness with notions of World Heritage and cultural landscapes, and how this can lead to a better appreciation of heritage as a whole."
Marilyn C Truscott, President, ICOMOS, International Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage

"World Heritage Sites such as Petra require careful management and an understanding of so many different issues. We are pleased to support the University of Birmingham’s MA programme which helps students appreciate the many different sides of World Heritage and the problems and opportunities they present."
Dr Emad Hijaazen, Commissioner for Petra Archaeological Park, Jordan

Modules

You will study five core modules:

Critical Approaches to Heritage

This module explores the core concepts of heritage: how they are generated, identified, valued and protected. It seeks to identify how heritage values are ascribed, and how these have implications for the recognition and protection of heritage. This process can be unofficial and informal and well as the more widely recognised controlling hierarchical framework of national and international systems of protection through law and international charters. You will be encouraged in to critically explore the variety and diversity of cultural heritage across the globe and the role of heritage in the formation of identities within communities and nations.

Issues in World Heritage Management

World Heritage is a fiercely contested area. The sheer diversity of site types, the cultural and political obstacles that are placed in the way of managers and the difficulties of reconciling local, national and international perspectives make these sites among the most challenging to work on. This module seeks to explore the common themes and issues that crop up in World Heritage management, and will use case studies and discussion groups to explore how these difficulties can be tackled. Among the more challenging areas to be tackled will be how intangible heritage can be managed and how to approach the issues of conserving natural heritage.

Tourism Management at World Heritage Sites

The paradox at the heart of World Heritage is that it is a brand that makes heritage sites more attractive to visit, yet in increasing numbers of visitors, the very heritage itself can be threatened. This module seeks to explore and explain key concepts in tourism management, such as carrying capacity, de-marketing, local community involvement, stakeholder participation and other key elements. Content will focus on World Heritage Sites endorsed through the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Tourism, Culture and Development.

World Heritage Case Study

You will be supported in acquiring the practical knowledge and skills that are necessary to effectively plan and manage a live work-based case study project and to establish useful contacts within World Heritage organisations in the UK or abroad.

Research Methods and Skills

Research skills are critical in the exploration of heritage. The diversity of World Heritage – natural, cultural and intangible – demands a broad approach and appreciation of a wide variety of research techniques and approaches. This module seeks to ground you in the necessary tools and methods to approach World Heritage studies, including oral history, literature searches, critical assessment of sources, optimised web-searching, map regression and software applications.

You will also choose one optional module. The list of available modules in any one year can vary, depending on staff specialisms and availability. Modules include:

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.

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 Practices

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.

Digital in a Cultural World

Digital in a Cultural World offers students the opportunity to engage with the subject matter of their own Master’s level discipline through the application of digital technologies. This module will introduce students to the technologies that are becoming available for use in the heritage sector and provide practical experience with a range of them.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are as follows:

  • Home/EU: £6,570
  • Overseas: £13,665

Learn more about 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.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

University of Birmingham graduates - including those due to graduate in summer 2014 - may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

2:1 or equivalent in a discipline relevant to the programme.

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

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

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Learning and teaching

Teaching within modules takes many forms, including lectures,  debates, seminars, presentations and role-play. You will also work closely with a personal tutor throughout the course.

As a postgraduate on the World Heritage Studies MA programme, you will become part of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, based at the University of Birmingham. With nearly thirty years of experience in the field of heritage it seeks to equip all of its students with appropriate management skills and a critical approach to heritage study. You will benefit from our research, our international networks and partnerships and our dedication and enthusiasm to better understand and manage cultural heritage around the world. 

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).

Employability

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 with a postgraduate degree in Heritage Management 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. Historically, over 91% of our postgraduates have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.