MA World Heritage Studies

World Heritage, both tangible and intangible, increasingly affects a significant proportion of the world’s population.

It 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 30 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.

 
Jiao Deng

Jiao Deng

“We are all from different countries – for example China, Zimbabwe and Indonesia – so quite diverse! We can share our experiences and different backgrounds with each other and I think it’s quite interesting.”

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 Skills and Methods

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

The programme also features an overseas visit. This is likely to be 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.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignments. 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

  • A unique partnership – Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH) is a partnership formed over 30 years ago 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.
  • Global outlook – you will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world which will impact on your experience through learning about a variety of different contexts within which heritage is being operated globally.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – you will join a lively postgraduate community with many opportunities to enhance your learning, from external lectures and visiting scholars to research seminars and conferences.
  • Access to academic support services – as a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.
  • Employability skills – 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

Francesca Casey provides a student perspective on studying the MA World Heritage Studies

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Research Skills and Methods

This module provides students with the core research skills to consider different aspects of heritage by understanding and applying a range of techniques of data collection in practical settings. 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. Students will be encouraged in this module to think critically of heritage not as a ‘given’ in any cultural context, but as something that is constantly being created and lived.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

You will also choose one optional module from a range which typically includes:

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

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.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

  • UK / EU: £9,000 full-time
  • International: £16,890 full-time

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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.

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

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

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

Teaching within modules takes many forms, including lectures,  debates, seminars and presentations.

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 over 30 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 studies. 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. 

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).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Cultural Heritage

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 three years, over 96% of our postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Birmingham Museums Trust; National Trust; Canal and River Trust; English Heritage; Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust; and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.