MA International Heritage Management (UK-US programme)

This unique one-year programme offers you the opportunity to study at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage in the autumn term, and at the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy, University of Illinois, in the spring term. Education at both universities is complemented by study trips.

You will have the experience of studying in both Britain and the USA with international heritage management scholars and leading professionals. Academic staff at both institutions engage with you throughout the programme through on-site guest lectures as well as long-distance participation. Your work is evaluated by the international team of staff and your MA dissertation is co-supervised.

The programme is designed to broaden your knowledge and experience of heritage beyond the confines of a single discipline and a single university, providing you with a competitive advantage in your future career.

We also offer an International Heritage Management MA programme full-time at the University of Birmingham, or by distance learning over one or two years - see our full range of courses


This programme draws on the exceptional strength in heritage studies at the two centres - Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at Birmingham and Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at Illinois - as well as the extensive institutional resources at both universities.

Course content

You will study three core modules at the University of Birmingham, and three core modules at the University of Illinois.

University of Birmingham (Autumn term)

  • Critical Approaches to Heritage
  • Heritage Conservation Management
  • Heritage Management Practices

University of Illinois (Spring term)

  • Heritage Management in Living Communities
  • Heritage and Regeneration
  • Research Methods

Study visits

The programme includes study visits to heritage sites in the UK and USA to provide you with 'live' case studies which will be examined in the programme. Site visits include World Heritage properties, historic urban centres, heritage community environments, cultural landscapes, and museums. In the UK you will have the opportunity to visit sites such as Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the city of Liverpool. In the US you will visit the renowned museums and architecture of the city of Chicago, the Cahokia World Heritage Site and the Abraham Lincoln Museum. All study visits are included in your course fee.

Travel and accommodation

Your course fee also includes self-catering accommodation at the University of Birmingham in the autumn semester and at the University of Illinois in the spring semester. Accommodation will typically be in en-suite flats, and you will be notified about your University accommodation once you have received an unconditional offer from us. You will also receive a £500 contribution towards the cost of your travel from the UK to the US between the autumn and spring semesters.

For the summer term, when you will be researching and writing your dissertation, you can be based wherever you need to be to complete your studies - the UK, US or your home country. You will need to arrange your own accommodation during this period.


Modules are assessed by interdisciplinary coursework. You will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation, jointly supervised by both institutions.

Why study this course

  • A unique collaboration – This programme is jointly delivered by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (University of Birmingham, UK) and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (University of Illinois, US) giving you an opportunity to draw on a wide range of expertise and networks.
  • Global outlook – You will get 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 two exciting departments – You will join the lively postgraduate communities at both institutions with many opportunities to enhance your learning from external lectures and visiting scholars, to research seminars and conferences.
  • Access to academic support services – During your time at the University of Birmingham 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.  


Taught modules

You will study six modules. The first three modules are studied at the University of Birmingham, and the remaining three are studied at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Critical Approaches to Heritage (Birmingham)

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. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Heritage Conservation Management (Birmingham)

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 Birmingham)

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

Heritage Management in Living Communities (Illinois)

This module will consider heritage in living communities around the world. The focus is on intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in its official and unofficial forms, and addresses the performative domain of heritage deeply embedded in dynamic cultural practices, thereby presenting a management conundrum. Theory is balanced with case studies, many drawn from case studies in Peru and Cambodia, that illustrate how heritage works and happens, including its conflicts. The evolution of ICH legislation is critically examined against on-the-ground realities. Included in the course coverage are the stakeholders at World Heritage sites, particularly the communities in proximity to these sites or with a cultural claim to such places. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Heritage and Regeneration (Illinois)

Around the world architectural heritage is being used as a driver of urban regeneration. This module proposes a new and invigorating vision of urbanism, architectural design, and urban revitalisation in twenty-first-century America. Culling transformative ideas from the realms of cultural heritage, historic preservation, sustainability, ecological urbanism, and the innovation economy, the module presents a holistic vision for reviving decayed and largely depopulated industrial cities as well as stagnant non-industrial cities on the basis of restoration of their tangible and related intangible cultural heritage. The course emphases culture as a driver of regeneration and the concept of the creative economy. Examples are drawn mostly from the U.S., with additional case studies from England and China.
Assessment: 1,000-word project outline and 3,000-word project

Research Methods (Illinois)

This proseminar introduces students to the core faculty of the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP), each of whom will deliver a seminar, sequentially week by week. Each professor will use his/her research to present the heritage issue investigated and how that project was conducted. This module will engage you with the process of research and the specific tools and approaches that researchers may use in the field of heritage. You will be introduced to qualitative research methods in anthropology, social archaeology, architecture, landscape architecture, heritage law, tourism, consumer studies, museum studies, informatics, and archives.
Assessment: 4,000-word report


In addition to your taught modules, you will complete a dissertation of 15,000 words in which you will focus in detail on a topic/heritage site of your choice. Your dissertation is co-supervised by staff from both universities.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows: £23,820 full-time.

Your course fee includes tuition, accommodation and field trips in the autumn and spring terms, and dissertation supervision for the remainder of the year. You will also receive a £500 contribution towards the cost of travelling from the UK to the US between the autumn and spring terms.

Please note:

  • Your course fee does not include accommodation for the summer semester, when you will be working on your dissertation. During this time you may base yourself wherever you need to be to complete your studies.
  • A £1,200 deposit will be payable to secure your place. This amount will be deducted from your tuition fee. Full details will be included in your offer letter.

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

You will need an Honours degree in a relevant subject, normally of an upper second-class standard, or equivalent. 

International students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band, or PTE with 59 in all four skills. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

Learn more about international entry requirements

How to apply

Application deadline (now closed for 2019 entry)

Please note: the application deadline for 2019 entry has now passed and the course is closed for applications.

Making your application

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

The programme will be delivered by a combination of lectures and seminars and you will be expected to participate in group work as well as individual study. You will also be supported by our virtual learning environment, enabling you to engage in independent study and have access to two extensive heritage libraries. 

You will also receive one-to-one supervision to support you in your dissertation. You will participate in research seminars and guest lectures organised through each institution.

During the programme, you will learn from academics working on heritage issues around the world and also representatives of leading organisations such as UNESCO, ICOMOS, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, English Heritage, and various museums and heritage sites.

Course delivery

You will take your modules over the autumn and spring terms, followed by your dissertation. During the autumn and spring terms, you will be based in university accommodation. 

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, assignment preparation and independent study.

Term dates

  • Autumn (Birmingham): Monday 30 September - Friday 13 December 2019
  • Spring (Illinois): Tuesday 21 January - Sunday 22 March 2020

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 five years, 97% 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.

University of Birmingham

Through the University of Birmingham you will receive extensive support for your studies. We offer our postgraduates research space, our extensive library and a range of recreational facilities such as our new state-of-the-art sports club, and the Bramall Music Building which hosts a variety of concerts and events. All of this is available on our beautiful 250-acre green and leafy campus, providing you with a perfect environment to support and develop your postgraduate experience.

The campus is only seven minutes from the centre of Birmingham by train, and offers a range of amenities. Cultural heritage is all around our historic campus. This includes: the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 'one of the finest small galleries in Europe' (The Observer); the Lapworth Museum of Geology, which has been designated as an ‘Outstanding Collection’ by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and; Winterbourne House and botanic gardens - a museum set in a beautiful arts and crafts building.

Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH)

The Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage is based at the University of Birmingham, with offices at Ironbridge Gorge, one of the UK’s great World Heritage Sites. The Institute’s links with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, along with numerous global heritage partners, will provide you with a unique academic experience.

IIICH takes an international cross-disciplinary approach to the study of heritage and seeks to equip all of our students with appropriate management skills. The Institute works with an extensive global network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers engaged in heritage and related sectors. You will benefit from our research activities, our global partner networks and our dedication and enthusiasm to better understand and manage cultural heritage around the world.

University of Illinois

At the University of Illinois you will benefit from access to a world-class library, research spaces, the wonderful Krannert Art Museum, a magnificent five-theatre centre for the performing arts and the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. You will be based in a classic American campus built around a landscaped central quad in a campus town with countless restaurants and cafes, cultural amenities as well as premier sports facilities.

Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP)

CHAMP is a strategic research centre dedicated to the critical study of cultural heritage and museum practices around the world, and it partners with other international heritage centres across the world. 

It offers an outstanding education in the field of Heritage Studies with faculty members coming from a large variety of disciplines who teach and conduct research across the globe. More than a dozen graduate students work with CHAMP at any one time. CHAMP alumni hold academic positions and professional employment at a range of American universities and state heritage organisations.

CHAMP sponsors lectures, campus and international conferences, film series and other events and it has an active publication programme of thematic edited volumes.