MSc in Digital Heritage

Course Directors: Dr Colleen Morgan & Dr James Taylor


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At a glance

Taking heritage management into the 21st century

Why choose this course?

Introduced in 2010 in response to the growth in digital heritage practices, this course provides training for professionals who wish to work in digital archiving, visualisation, and museums and heritage sector interpretation, curation and education.

It draws on the Archaeology department’s strengths in both Archaeological Information Sciences and Cultural Heritage Management – offering a unique qualification that combines the theoretical and ground-level study of heritage management with practical training in new technologies, from database systems and virtual-reality modelling to social media platforms.

You will be working with a team of technology pioneers and computing scholars, who lead the field in researching and developing interpretative content and digital applications for the heritage sector worldwide.

• Gain practical experience in new and mobile technologies used to publish, archive, analyse, visualise and interpret archaeological information. 
• Understand all aspects of heritage management theory and practice.
• Develop essential IT knowledge and skills required in heritage-sector careers.
• Gain practical placement experience in the heritage sector.
• Access a full suite of research computing hardware and software
• Receive tailored careers advice from staff with significant experience of recruiting within 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?

The course draws on the skills and expertise of leading scholars in heritage management, interpretation and digital media, alongside staff from the Archaeology Data Service, which has been the UK digital archive for heritage data since 1997. It also has strong links with museums and other cultural heritage institutions in York, and work placements are a key feature of the programme.

Through a combination of academic studies, practical training, research and work placements, you will:

• Explore how digital technologies are used to present and curate heritage information.
• Gain experience of using the digital and internet technologies in disseminating, publishing and archiving heritage information.
• Develop your practical skills in 3-D modelling, GIS, CAD and other heritage analysis and visualisation technologies.

Who is it for?

The MSc in Digital Heritage course is designed for people seeking professional training in digital archiving, visualisation, museums and heritage sector curation, interpretation, and education. It is ideally suited for graduates of Archaeology, History, Art History, Museum Studies, Education, Anthropology, Cultural Studies and related fields, and for candidates with proven IT experience.

What can it lead to?

The skills developed on this course lead graduates into careers in archaeological computing, archive management, education, marketing and IT services for commercial organisations, museums and the public sector. Equally, the course can be a stepping stone to further research at doctoral level. Find out what our alumni and current students have to say about the course.

Former MSc students have said...

“Thanks to the MSc in Digital Heritage I have developed a variety of computer skills and learned the terminology and theory behind decisions made in cultural heritage management.”

Jitka Jizerova (Digital Heritage, 2012)

"The MSc programme in Digital Heritage encourages you to expand your knowledge and practical skills, exposing you to the benefits and pitfalls of digital interpretation."

Louise Mcginlay (Digital Heritage, 2015)



Tailored training in digital heritage

This one-year MSc course is taught via a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. You will study four core modules and four shorter skills modules of your choice. In the summer term you will develop your research and presentation skills by producing a dissertation and giving an assessed lecture. Alongside the taught programme, you also have the option to gain valuable experience in a student placement in the professional heritage sector.


During the autumn and spring terms, you will study these four core modules, each worth 20 credits: 

Digital publication and web technologies

Develop your knowledge of the principal digital and internet technologies used for disseminating, publishing and archiving archaeological information, and understand how to apply them. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of different technologies and applications.

Analysis and visualisation

Assess the main digital technologies used for analysing and visualising archaeological information, including 3-D modelling, GIS, CAD and VR technologies. Explore the application of these technologies, and understand their relative advantages and disadvantages.

Cultural heritage management 1: concepts, principles and practice

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.

Cultural heritage management 2: museums, audiences and interpretation

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 also choose four shorter ‘skills’ modules from this table.

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.                                                  

Digital Heritage placement

Alongside the taught course, at the end of your second term you will have the option of gaining experience in a student placement with a professional heritage organisation.

Organisations offering placements range from museums and heritage centres to local planning authorities. Although optional, most students take the placement because it not only provides excellent work experience, but is 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.

Former MSc students have said...

“I have found the course quite fast paced in the material it covers, but in a way that is flexible and allows you the freedom to follow your own interests as you develop an understanding of this rapidly evolving discipline.”

Flo Laino (Digital Heritage, 2014)


Put Digital Heritage theory into practice

A student placement experience offers you the chance to apply your digital skillset in a professional or academic setting.


  • To provide experience of computer applications within a workplace in the heritage sector.
  • To consolidate knowledge and understanding of computer applications from one or more of the taught modules.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing your placement you should have:

  • gained detailed knowledge of how information technology is applied in the workplace in the heritage sector, under the guidance of experienced professionals.
  • developed an understanding of the contexts in which IT is applied, and of real world limitations.
  • developed your IT skills in one or more of the core areas covered by the taught programme (i.e. database design, web technologies, digital archiving, electronic publication, CAD, GIS and virtual-reality modelling). 

Placement opportunities

Although the organisations offering placements change from year to year, and you have the option of proposing other organisations that match your specific interests, the following list is a good indication of some of the choices available:

  • Yorkshire Museums Trust
  • Archaeology Data Service
  • City of York Council
  • Internet Archaeology
  • York Archaeological Trust
  • Centre for Christianity and Culture
  • L-P: Archaeology
  • On Site Archaeology
  • Council for British Archaeology
  • West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
  • Historic England
  • English Heritage
  • National Trust 

 Former MSc students have said...

"For me personally, the course was instrumental in gaining my position as Heritage Visualiser at ArcHeritage. At ArcHeritage I have been able to expand on the 3D modelling skills that I started to learn on the Digital Heritage course, travel around, and have the opportunity to experience first hand the benefits of digital interpretations in conveying the past to our wider audience."

Louise Mcginlay (MSc Digital Heritage, 2015 - now Heritage Visualiser at ArcHeritage)


Learn from the heritage and technology specialists

Lecturers and tutors for this course are among the pioneers in the application of information systems to all areas of heritage interest. many are involved in international research projects with various European, North American and other partners. The following staff with expertise in digital technologies and cultural heritage provide teaching, guidance and support for this course:

Dr Colleen Morgan

Director of Studies, Digital Heritage MSc programme. Colleen uses virtual reality, augmented reality, movie-making and video games to interpret and present the past.

Dr Sara Perry

Sara’s research focuses on the ways archaeologists present the past to both academic and non-academic audiences through various media.

Professor Julian Richards

Director of York’s Centre for Digital Heritage and The White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH). Julian specialises in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England.

Prof John Schofield

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.

Dr Helen Goodchild

Fieldwork and Project Officer. Helen’s interests include landscape archaeology, geophysical survey and computing applications in field archaeology.

Neil Gevaux

Departmental Computing Officer. Neil is a specialist in web design and digital imaging.

Jo Gilham

Digital Archivist, Archaeology Data Service. Jo’s specialisms include databases, GIS, XML and XHTML.

Dr Tim Evans

Digital Archivist, Archaeology Data Service. Tim specialises in electronic archives and publication.

Judith Winters

Editor of e-journal Internet Archaeology. Judith is a member of the Council for British Archaeology's Publications Committee.


Former MSc students have said...

“I attended and presented at several conferences around England and Europe, thanks to the encouragement and support I received from the helpful and accessible staff.”

Jitka Jizerova (MSc Digital Heritage, 2012 - now Content Marketing Team Leader at Webcertain)


Highly valued IT skills for heritage careers 

Graduates of the MSc in Digital Heritage will be well equipped to work in IT-related roles in heritage management or presentation, in museums and education, and with a range of other heritage organisations.

By the end of the course you will be able to: 

  • plan, design and undertake a piece of independent research in the field of digital heritage;
  • critically evaluate claims made for different computer applications and select the correct application for a given problem;
  • locate and use relevant information on the internet and add materials to it;
  • create an electronic text;
  • design and implement a simple relational database;
  • create effective applications in CAD and VR;
  • evaluate the cultural significance of sites, places and artefacts;
  • recognise areas of potential conflict in heritage management and museum practice;
  • evaluate the implications of stakeholder values and interests for heritage management and heritage interpretation/education;
  • appraise the utility of interpretative and educational media both on site and in museums.                                                                                                              

The course opens the door to a wide range of careers in heritage-related organisations and in many other sectors, including:

  • Archive management
  • Museum curation
  • Social media management
  • Local government and development
  • Computing and IT services
  • Business and administration
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Education 

Find out what some of our alumni have said about the course and how it improved their career prospects. 

Former MSc students have said...

“The Digital Heritage course allowed me to make connections with real innovators, and forward thinkers in the industry, as well as gain essential IT skills that speak to employers.”

Flo Laino (MSc Digital Heritage student, 2014 - now Project Administrator at L-P Archaeology)


Where next? A word from our alumni

Alumni of the MSc in Digital Heritage have gone on to take up varied roles in heritage and related organisations worldwide.

Here’s what some recent graduates have said about the course:

Jitka Jizerova (MSc Digital Heritage, 2012) - Content Marketing Team Leader, Webcertain:


“Thanks to the MSc in Digital Heritage I have developed a variety of computer skills and learned the terminology and theory behind decisions made in cultural heritage management. I was able to use these new skills as they were immediately applied during my heritage placements at York City Council and the British Council for Archaeology. I also gained confidence in my communication skills and a wider understanding of the role of digital heritage within archaeology. I attended and presented at several conferences around England and Europe. This is in part due to the encouragement and support I received from the helpful and accessible staff. All of this, and the unique and historic department location, made for a pleasant experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a career within the heritage sector."

Flo Laino (MSc Digital Heritage, 2014) - Project Administrator, L-P Archaeology


“The Digital Heritage course has allowed me to make connections with real innovators, and forward thinkers in the industry, as well as gain essential IT skills that speak to employers. For me, having had no prior experience with any particular digital media specialism, I have found the course quite fast paced in the material it covers, but in a way that is flexible and allows you the freedom to follow your own interests as you develop an understanding of this rapidly evolving discipline.”


How to apply 

To apply for this course, you will need:

  • A good honours degree (upper second or first class) or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in Archaeology, History, Art History, Museum Studies, Education, Anthropology, Cultural Studies or a related field.

Other applicants may be considered in exceptional circumstances, for example those with considerable ICT experience.

All applicants will be expected to provide evidence of some basic familiarity with a range of ICT applications and an aptitude for computer-based skills.

Most applicants are interviewed, unless you live or work overseas. For foreign language speakers, level 6.5 IELTS is required.

apply now button

First, check our How to apply page, which explains what information the Department needs from you.


This course combines technical training in core IT, digital and internet technologies with the study of heritage management theory and practice. As such it offers a unique qualification that prepares students thoroughly for modern heritage-related careers, which demand the intelligent, critically engaged application of new and emerging technologies to archive, visualise and curate our cultural heritage.

 Dr Sara Perry