Why choose this course?
The cultural heritage sector offers a wide range of exciting opportunities in museums, local authorities and heritage agencies, organisations and consultancies. This course offers essential training for professional roles throughout the sector.
York is one of the best places to study Archaeology, Heritage or Conservation. The Department has an excellent reputation and is one of the largest Archaeology teaching centres in the UK. The historic City of York is rich in architectural and archaeological treasures and resources which you will have easy access to during your studies.
To find out more see: Why study post-graduate Archaeology in York?
What does the course cover?
Through a combination of academic studies, practical training, work placements and research projects, this course provides a thorough grounding in all aspects of heritage management theory and practice. You will address key issues such as:
The course focuses on providing you with highly valued and transferrable practical skills, knowledge and experience.
Who is it for?
This is a general programme of study, exploring the multi-disciplinary nature of the heritage environment. It is therefore suitable not just for students of Archaeology or History, but for anyone who wishes to pursue a career in the heritage sector. Recent students have included those with backgrounds in History, English, History of Art, Politics and Environmental Sciences.
What can it lead to?
The course places strong emphasis on employability. In recent years, and in spite of the economic downturn, it has successfully launched many students into heritage careers with organisations ranging from the National Trust, English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology to museums, councils, heritage consultancies, and even travel book publishers. See what our alumni have to say about the course.
Former MA students have said...
“I came to Cultural Heritage Management from History of Art, concerned that going to an archaeology department might be a difficult move. In fact, it was an easy transition and now I have the benefit of drawing from both disciplines. I’d highly recommend the course at York for anyone looking to start their career in heritage.”
Claire Price (CHM, 2012), Listed Buildings Caseworker for England, Council for British Archaeology
“I am certain that without my time on the Cultural Heritage Management course at York, I would not be doing my dream job today.”
Lydia Tickner (CHM, 2012), Acting Events Manager, English Heritage in the South East of England
This one-year MA course is taught via a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. You will study two core modules, two optional modules and four shorter skills modules of your choice. You can also gain valuable practical experience of the professional heritage-management sector by taking one or two work placements. Finally, you will hone your research skills by producing a dissertation.
During the autumn and spring terms, you will study two core modules, each worth 20 credits. These are:
Discover the basic principles, concepts and philosophy of managing and conserving cultural heritage. You will be introduced to heritage-management processes, practices, legislation and policies, and be invited to explore the various meanings and values attributed to heritage.
You will critically evaluate the ways cultural heritage is interpreted in education, the media and tourism, and how new technologies are used. You will examine community participation in managing sites or artefacts, and consider social inclusion and access to heritage and historic places.
You will study two further 20-credit modules and four shorter 'skills' modules.
We always try to give everyone their first choice of modules, although this cannot be guaranteed. Some skills modules required by particular programmes may be over-subscribed. Take a look at the full modules list for scheduling information, as some modules run concurrently.
During the first two terms, you will have the option to experience one or two work placements in the professional heritage sector. These are organised for you by the Course Director, following a conversation with you about your particular interests and aspirations.
Organisations offering placements range from museums and heritage centres to local planning authorities. This gives you the opportunity to put the knowledge and skills you have learned into practice and to further develop your heritage-management understanding and expertise.
Although optional, most students take the placements as they not only provide excellent work experience, but are an invaluable addition to your CV.
In your final term of study, you will carry out research for your dissertation and give an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic.
This programme is also available for study as a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Cultural Heritage Management.
Former MA students have said...
“The theory taught me to recognise a broad range of technical vocabulary, while the skills modules and especially the work experience opportunities boosted my practical skills. I now use these every day.”
Sarah Salem (CHM, 2013), Graduate Historic Environment Record Officer, Highland Council
“The programme in Cultural Heritage Management is, in my view, one of the best of its kind in the country. There is a very good balance of theoretical and practical work and at the same time students are well versed in policy frameworks and adept at handling case study material. The student work provides evidence of very high standards of teaching and learning. The methods employed clearly allow students to flourish.”
Professor Sian Jones, University of Manchester (External Examiner since 2011)
The work placements provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience of working in the professional heritage sector. The two placements will draw on and contribute to the knowledge and experience you have gained on your taught courses, while enabling you to develop new insights, understanding and expertise in heritage management that will be extremely valuable in future employment.
Upon completing these placements you should have:
Former MA students have said...
'I wanted to explore York’s heritage from the perspective of David Ward Maclean, who is a well-known face on the busking and gigging scene of York. He takes much of his inspiration from the city, including the church of Holy Trinity. David’s song He Loved This Place takes its title from a bench in Holy Trinity’s churchyard that is dedicated to long-time church warden Wallace Martin. I wanted to record a performance of the song in the setting that inspired its creation and to gain an insight into how Holy Trinity has influenced David’s music.
It was a chance to promote Holy Trinity’s special features, such as the unique box pews and the wonderfully uneven stone floor. It also allowed me to experiment with audio, video and production equipment for the first time, giving me an understanding of the practicalities and problems involved in the film making process.
I am pleased with the end result as I feel that it accurately reflects David’s appreciation of Holy Trinity and the impact of heritage on modern creativity.'
Sarah Phillips describing her placement with The Churches Conervation Trust. The film can be seen here: The Churches Conservation Trust.
“Placements with English Heritage and the City of York Council provided valuable hands-on experience. I thoroughly appreciate the grounding I received from York, and look forward to pursuing more opportunities in the heritage sector.”
Moira Richards (CHM, 2013), Heritage Assistant, Llangollen’s Chain Bridge project
“In a fiercely competitive environment, where there are volumes of highly qualified students looking to start their careers, we recognise the value that real practical experience can make on differentiating candidates during a recruitment process. It’s no longer a choice, it’s really essential for success. As a Trust with educational objectives, we are committed to providing a real world experience to increase awareness, develop skills, release creativity, and initiate careers by providing opportunities for students to work on a variety of practical projects, which have ranged from museum design to artefact storage and relocation. In turn, it has been a privilege to work alongside talented, enthusiastic students who have deposited as much as we have invested and mentored into them”.
James Foster, General Manager, The Bar Convent, York
Although the organisations offering placements change from year to year, according to availability, the following list of providers from 2013-14 is a good indication of the choices likely to be available:
Teaching for this course is conducted by some of the most experienced and respected academics in their fields. Departmental teaching is augmented by lectures and seminars from visiting heritage professionals and practitioners, and extra- curricular seminars by guest speakers, which are intended to complement course content. The following staff with expertise in heritage and heritage-related issues provide teaching and support for this course:
Head of Department of Archaeology and Director of the Cultural Heritage Management MA programme. Prior to his appointment in 2010, John worked for English Heritage for 21 years, in heritage protection and landscape characterisation.
Director of Centre for Conservation Studies. Gill’s research interests include the evolution of heritage protection policy and its interaction with environmental conservation and sustainability policies. Gill was appointed to York in 2011, following a career that included roles with English Heritage, local authorities, the Council for British Archaeology (where she was Director of Conservation) and in consultancy.
Senior Lecturer and York Minster Archaeology Research Fellow. Kate is a buildings archaeologist, specialising in the recording and theoretical interpretation of historic buildings.
Director of York’s Centre for Digital Heritage, The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) and The White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities, Julian specialises in digital heritage as well as the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England.
Lecturer. Sara’s research focuses on the ways archaeologists present the past to both academic and non-academic audiences through various media.
“The academic support I received has left me well-placed should I wish to pursue a PhD at a later stage. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course, and feel I have a lot of options for my future as a result.”
Alex Riordan, Assistant Heritage Consultant, Jura Consultants in Edinburgh
“Since coming to York in 2012, I have really enjoyed developing new heritage programmes that balance intellectual content with creativity, while enhancing vocational skills. For example, the role of social media is key to a more socially engaged and connected heritage sector, and this features prominently in some of my modules.”
Dr Sara Perry
The MA in Cultural Heritage Management has a clear focus on employability. At the end of the course you will have:
Course postgraduates have gone on to careers in archaeology and heritage-related organisations across the UK and abroad, including:
Others have used the skills gained to pursue careers in other sectors, including:
Others have gone on to take PhDs at York, Stanford (USA) and other universities.
Find out what some of our alumni have said about the course and how it improved their career prospects.
Former MA students have said...
“The MA at York is excellent preparation for employment in the heritage sector: I simply would not have got my current role without the knowledge and work experience gained through my degree.”
Claire Price (CHM, 2012), Listed Buildings Caseworker for England, Council for British Archaeology
Alumni of the MA in Cultural Heritage Management have gone on to take up varied careers across the heritage and related sectors, many of them securing their dream jobs thanks to the experience and knowledge gained during their studies at York.
Here’s what some recent graduates had to say about the course:
Helen Simmons (CHM, 2016)
I came to CHM straight from an archaeology degree at another university with the aim of making myself more employable to the heritage industry. I couldn’t have anticipated just how many skills and how much knowledge the course would give me! After finishing the MA I was offered and accepted the role of Trainee Project Manager with a Community Interest Company called Culture Syndicates. The company is a new and vibrant heritage consultancy that aims to improve sustainability and employability within the sector. The best thing about my job is the variety of projects that we do: from collections based work to audience evaluation, to a huge partnership with six museums providing internships and training for recent graduates, to helping a really small museum set up a whole new way of working as a museum in a sustainable way. As Trainee Project Manager I am learning to initiate and run all elements of project work which is really exciting as I’m able to exercise my creativity and suggest new projects and new creative ways of doing regular projects. The MA definitely helped with this as it taught me to trust my own skills, ideas and abilities as a heritage professional. This was particularly due to relationships built up with the amazing lecturers on the course.
Michala Pearson (CHM, 2014-16)
Sarah Salem (CHM 2013), Reseach Fellow, Preservation Society of Newport County
"The York MA in CHM definitely prepared me for the job market. The varied courses taught me to recognise a broad range of theory and technical vocabulary, while simultaneously boosting my practical skills. Because of this, I was immediately employed in the UK and successfully transferred my skills to the US. I am currently a research fellow for the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island, where I am using the methodologies developed in my MA dissertation to study the representation of exploitative sea trades in Newport’s built heritage. Further, the committee for the Colonial Newport and Providence World Heritage Application, upon hearing of my studies at York, invited me to assist them, and I am gladly doing so."
Alex Riordan (CHM, 2013), currently assistant heritage consultant at Jura Consultants, Edinburgh
"I came to the MA in Cultural Heritage Management unsure if it was the right course for my interests. The opportunity for pursuing my personal interests within the guiding framework of the course, and the enthusiasm and the support of the staff in encouraging me to do so, soon reassured me that I had made the right choice. The strong emphasis on developing practical skills, combined with the placements, directly contributed to my being able to secure my present job. The academic support I received has meanwhile left me well-placed should I wish to pursue a PhD at a later stage. All of this was achieved alongside people who came from a variety of backgrounds, professional and geographical, allowing for an exciting blend of perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course, and feel I have a lot of options for my future as a result."
Moira Richards (CHM 2013), currently Heritage Assistant for Llangollen’s Chain Bridge project
"The University of York’s Cultural Heritage Management programme gave me the chance to take a variety of modules that embraced inter-disciplinary learning. Courses contained a balance of theory and practical elements, such as the use of media in heritage management and interpretation. Class discussions, guest lecturers, and field trips challenged me to think about heritage in different ways, while placements with English Heritage and the City of York Council provided me with valuable hands-on experience. As of January 2014, I will be using the skills I developed through York’s CHM MA degree to work as a Heritage Assistant on Llangollen’s Chain Bridge project. I thoroughly appreciate the grounding I received from York, and look forward to pursuing more opportunities in the heritage sector."
Nana Zheng (CHM, 2012), currently author and editor for Lonely Planet (China)
"York is an ideal place to study archaeology and cultural heritage! My Cultural Heritage Management course stood out as having modules in liaison with local heritage organisations, combined with opportunities within our course for work placements, and to explore the various historical sites and monuments in York. There were also many interesting public lectures and conferences on campus, which is a good chance to hear other voices often about heritage, but from different disciplines. Now I am working as a freelance author and editor for Lonely Planet (China). My experience gained from York helps me describe the attraction of cultural heritage, which features strongly in the guidebooks and engages with a wide and diverse audience."
Tom Ratcliffe (MA, CHM 2012), currently Senior Research Executive (Tourism) with Qa Research - http://qaresearch.co.uk/
"The MA in Cultural Heritage Management is a great starting point for those who want to find a job in the heritage sector. It is a course where you can research a wide variety of subjects which are fundamental to the world of heritage; such as conservation, museum studies, landscapes, communities, and your own particular interests. The course provided me with a strong basis for my current job role where I work with a diverse range of heritage sites. The practical elements of the course alongside its theoretical approach has enabled me to apply this understanding to many of the current projects I work on. From the course I was able to acquire a range of skills, put them into practice and take them forward into my current job role."
Claire Price (CHM, 2012), currently Listed Buildings Caseworker for England, with the Council for British Archaeology
"The MA at York is excellent preparation for employment in the heritage sector: I simply would not have got my current role without the knowledge and work experience gained through my degree. I came to Cultural Heritage Management from History of Art, concerned that going to an archaeology department might be a difficult move or, more scarily, might involve getting muddy! Neither was true. In fact, it was an easy transition and now I have the benefit of drawing from both disciplines. I'd highly recommend the course at York for anyone looking to start their career in heritage."
Lydia Tickner (CHM, 2012), Events Manager for English Heritage in the South East of England
"I am the Events Manager for English Heritage in the South East of England. Having started as an assistant less than a year previously, I progressed very quickly due to my skills, attitude and conscientiousness - traits attributable to my MA in Cultural Heritage Management. My MA not only gave me vital knowledge, workplace skills and a passion for the heritage sector, but is also a valuable qualification from a prestigious university, an asset to any CV. I am certain that without my time at York I would not be doing my dream job today.
Annalisa Bolin (CHM, 2011), currently PhD candidate at Stanford
"The work I did in York’s Cultural Heritage Management MA program prepared me beautifully for the PhD in Anthropology I’m doing now at Stanford University, where I focus on heritage. At York I received excellent training in the management of cultural heritage and gained an understanding of both the practical and theoretical underpinnings of CHM, which has served me well as I move to the more academic side of the field. But far from being an MA that I put aside when I moved on to my PhD, I’ve found that what I learned at York—both the practical training and internship, and the coursework in CHM, conservation, and archaeology—is still hugely valuable. It has helped me maintain a well-rounded picture of what heritage is, what it means, and how it functions on a human scale, and it continues to shape my research and career as I try to bridge the applied with the academic."
Daphne Mayer (CHM, 2011), currently working for the National Trust as Visitor Experience Officer, Cheshire & Wirral Properties
"I found the MA programme in Cultural Heritage Management to be a great foundation for a career in museums and heritage, particularly the coursework on interpretation and my work placements. As a part of the wider University of York community, I was also able to take advantage of the myriad lecture series, conferences and other activities that were on offer throughout the year. Since graduating, I have worked for the Science Museum Group, at both the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford, and for the National Trust. In my current role, I have even had the amazing opportunity to live in a 16th century Tudor manor house. As an American, it’s older than my country!"
Olivia Hewkin (MA, CHM 2012), Curatorial Trainee at the New Art Gallery, Walsall
"The MA in Cultural Heritage Management at the University of York stood out from other post-graduate courses as having excellent opportunities for work placements and a flexible programme, helping you to specialise in the area of heritage management most suited to your future career.
I am currently Curatorial Trainee at The New Art Gallery in Walsall, working with an internationally renowned collection of art. Already during my time here I have found myself using skills that I was taught while on my Masters: from object handling and research for museum labels, to understanding the ethical codes that underpin collections management.
The heritage sector is a highly competitive field and I know that my Masters in Cultural Heritage Management has given me a significant advantage. What is more, staff at the university are all very supportive and the city of York is a beautiful setting!"
Sarah Spurrier (CHM 2012) Project Manager, Civic Voice
“CHM at York not only provides you with a wonderfully rounded knowledge of heritage theories and principles, but also practical managerial skills preparing you for the sector. Whilst undertaking my Masters I was able to gain work experience with national heritage bodies, helping me to gain a post with English Heritage before I graduated. Since obtaining my degree in 2012 I have undertaken a national research project for English Heritage, managed a National Trust property and am about to become a consultant for museums in the East Midlands. My role will involve working in a consultancy capacity for around 180 museums, as well as administering a grants and training programme and managing communications. I would highly recommend this course to anyone serious about a career in heritage. The knowledge, skills and contacts it equipped me with have been invaluable, not to mention the fantastic year in York!”
"Having worked previously as a Town Planner, I came to the MA in Cultural Heritage Management hoping to develop my knowledge of the heritage sector and of heritage management, to learn new skills, and to have the opportunity to apply my existing skills and experience in a new field. I found the practical approach, non-academic assessments and focus on placements in CHM really valuable. A key benefit of the course for me was the opportunity to get involved in local heritage groups and organisations, through placements with English Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust, but also through hearing guest lectures, attending field trips and also through the many other events in the department. Having volunteered for the Council for British Archaeology in York during my MA, I then worked there for six months as Listed Buildings Casework Assistant, before moving to Manchester, where I now work as a Heritage Consultant. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and the experience and contacts I gained were invaluable. I would recommend the course to anyone considering a career in heritage management."
Helen Marrison (CHM 2013) Government Advice Project Officer, English Heritage
"As a politics graduate I was worried that I would be at a disadvantage studying Cultural Heritage Management, given that I did not have a background in archaeology. Fortunately, this was not the case! The course covers a wide variety of topic areas connected to the heritage sector, and I was able to pick out subjects such as legislation and policy and research methods that interested me most. I now work for the Government Advice Team at English Heritage, who are responsible for providing guidance on national issues relating to the historic environment. One of my main areas of work is producing the annual Heritage Counts report, which surveys the condition of the sector through commissioning research, and collecting and analysing data. The combination of teaching from people who have worked in the industry, intensive skills modules and work placements meant I developed great transferable skills as well as specialist knowledge, without which I would not have been able to apply for the job. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and found it extremely rewarding."
Eva Papakonstantinou (CHM 2012-2014), Conservation Architect at Hawkes Edwards & Cave Architects, Stratford-on-Avon
"With studies spanning almost a decade, opting for another postgraduate course was a 'last resort' after lengthy unemployment; an attempt to make myself more competitive for the UK job market. Although not entirely convinced that CHM would be suitable for a budding architect, it proved a good decision. The flexibility of the course allowed me to pick a relevant set of modules creating a bespoke programme to address my particular interests and needs, including contemporary concepts of heritage, the British planning system and heritage legislation. I chose to study part-time but finished all my taught modules in the first year, leaving just the dissertation for the next. At the start of my second year I had my first job interview resulting in a post at an architectural practice in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was a struggle to complete my dissertation alongside full-time work, but this was accomplished. I now enjoy working on historic buildings and caring for their future."
“As a York archaeology graduate I started the Cultural Heritage Management Masters knowing that I wanted to work in the heritage sector and could think of no better course to do. The course covers a diverse range of topics and allows you to focus on specific modules that involve current heritage issues, debates and your own personal interests. I particularly enjoyed the combination of lectures, practical skills modules, personal research and work-based placements. During my placement at The Bar Convent Museum I developed a keen interest in collections registration which has now formed the groundwork for my current job.”
Benjamin Wajdner (CHM 2014) Archaeology and Heritage Consultant, Mott MacDonald.
"Having studied archaeology at undergraduate level, and having become hooked on critical heritage studies, I knew I had to stay on and take the CHM MA at York. The family at Kings Manor are amazing and it is a great pleasure to be surrounded by leading minds in the area you are interested in. The course is inspirational for ambitious heritage specialists eager to acquire the necessary tools for making an impact on the subject, academically or in practice. By being an alumnus of the department you know you a part of an exciting group of individuals; future potential-leaders in heritage studies. What a platform for initiating your career! For me, working now as a consultant, I am able to draw on my time at York and apply my knowledge directly in a critical and innovative manner. The CHM course gave me the tools and confidence to hit the ground running.
Spending a year to immerse yourself in CHM at York is the best investment you can make for yourself intellectually if you wish to start a heritage career. It gives you all you need to get started."
Charlotte Paddock (CHM, 2014)
"I found the CHM course at York an invaluable platform from which I could develop my understanding of the historic built environment and how we interact with it today. The flexible nature of the course allowed me to tailor an education specific to my interests which led, both directly and indirectly, to a number of work experience opportunities. The high repute of the department is also an incredible benefit to the students as we were exposed to progressive ideas and methods of teaching as well as being able to meet conservation professionals from across the world.
The guaranteed work experience placement is an element I would most like to recommend. This gave me the opportunity to understand the heritage sector from a more practical point of view and also helped to construct my career ambitions within this sector. My second work experience placement with PLB, a heritage consultancy, in fact led to a part-time job with them during and after the MA. Following this, I took an internship with INTACH in New Delhi, India which was inspired by some of the course material covering international conservation issues. Combined with the course and the work experience I have gained, I was able to gain a job with Great Yarmouth Borough Council as an Assistant Conservation Officer in which I am working on Listed Building Consent, innovative heritage initiatives within the borough and international partnerships. My year in York was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and has led me into a profession which I feel privileged to be a part of!"
Bryony Prestidge (CHM 2015)
"The Cultural Heritage Management MA is wonderful course. There’s a wide variety of modules, so you can tailor your programme depending on what you want to do next. I was interested in the theories that heritage professionals apply to their work, and was able to develop my understanding of how the heritage industry accommodates academic and conservation needs within a public-orientated environment. This prepared me for the PhD I have been lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to pursue. My work is part of the Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage AHRC project, which aims to take perspectives from a variety of fields. I am within the Curating Profusion branch, looking at how technology and innovation has been curated in post-war British museums. As practical application of the themes covered is at the core of what is taught, I could not have followed a better course to prepare me for this outward-looking AHRC project. It is exciting to be working on a project that involves academics that I admired during my MA. It is also exciting to make use of and expand on my appreciation of the heritage industry as interdisciplinary, a view that the CHM MA fosters and uses to allow students to pursue directions that meet their own ambitions."
To apply for this course, you will need:
Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant professional experience in this field will be considered.
For foreign language speakers, Level 6.5 IELTS is required.
An interview may be required.
First, check our How to apply page, which explains what information the Department needs from you.
Heritage is constantly changing, in perception, policy and practice. We have strong professional connections across the heritage sector which, combined with the expertise of our tutors and researchers, ensures course content remains up to date and directly relevant to students’ future career prospects. Our excellent track record of student employability shows that our approach is working.
Prof. John Schofield