PG Diploma in Heritage, History and Fabric of the Parish Church

Course convenor: Dr Emma Wells

This programme has been relaunched with the name, Postgraduate Diploma in Parish Church Studies: History, Heritage and Fabric, and is being run by the Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at the University of York. Please contact CLL if you would like advice or help with submitting an application for ths course. 

This Diploma is fully recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation for Continuing Professional Development purposes.

Information for current students:

This diploma offers a unique opportunity to gain detailed and practical knowledge of the history, use, care and conservation of parish churches. The only course of this type in Britain, it offers a part-time, online, distance-learning course leading to a postgraduate diploma. The course format offers you the opportunity to study in your own home at times and a pace to suit you, extensively supported by tutors and part of an active online community.

The course enables those involved in the design and implementation of conservation techniques or those wishing to enhance their understanding of local sites of importance to develop new areas of expertise. It is equally valuable for lay staff, volunteers and those with a general interest in the parish landscape. Our resources include contributions from over two hundred academics and practitioners meaning that you have access to the finest current international research and ensuring Continuing Professional Development opportunities. The modules, each developed by specialists in their field, allow you to choose directions to suit your interests and needs.

The PGDip is offered by the Department of History as a distance learning programme of two years’ duration. Content is delivered through a combination of the key-learning resource, the multi-author DVD The English Parish Church through the Centuries, digital readings and tutor-led podcasts. Delivered via the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the course requires access to a broadband internet connection, but does not require you to be online at specific times, making this the ideal learning environment for those with busy lives. The VLE-delivered course allows you to experience a wide range of media both for study and for assessment, providing the opportunity to see, hear, explore in 3D and debate issues and questions, all from your own home or workplace. All students will have access to a dedicated Course Tutor, a students’ area and will receive regular feedback on assignments. The PGDip also includes the opportunity for an optional field trip here in Yorkshire in the second year.

Programme of study

The course is taught across two years and consists of two core and two optional modules. In the first year students undertake a two-term core module on Sources and Issues for the Study of the History of the Parish and the Parish Church, followed by a choice of modules on or .

In the second year students choose from and , followed by a core two-term study project researching a church or churches of their choice. Students are supported throughout the course by module tutors and the Course Tutor, ensuring the online experience is a rich and collaborative one.

Entry requirements

We expect previous experience of study at a suitable level. We welcome applications supplying accredited prior learning, professional experience and a demonstration of the ability to work at postgraduate diploma level in the absence of a first degree, as well as those from students who have been out of formal education for some time or whose qualifications do not fit conventional models. Our principal interest is in those who are able to work at the appropriate level and are motivated and willing to study in an online environment. Applications will be assessed on an individual basis.


The Diploma offers a unique opportunity to gain detailed and practical knowledge of the history, use, care and conservation of parish churches. It enables those working in the heritage sector, church architectural practice, church management, and as advisers, to develop their expertise further. It is equally valuable for lay staff, volunteers and those with a general interest in churches and church history. Graduate students from the Department also have a strong record of securing further posts in the higher education sector and in cultural industries.

Read what some of our current students have to say about studying the Diploma.


Up to date information about fees and funding is available on the Postgraduate Study pages. The fees for this programme are listed on the Non-standard fee table for Online/Distance Learning students.

How to apply

Going forward, this course is being run by the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York. New applicants should apply through the CLL course information page.

‌‌(c) Dr. David Griffith

Core course

  • Click here for more information on the core course .

University of York / Georgi Mabee

‌Optional modules

To complement the core modules, we offer the following optional modules each year:

  • Church and Churchyard: Parish Churches in Their Physical and Social Context
  • The Use, Conservation and Change of Church Buildings

Programme specifications

For a concise description of the programme structure, aims and learning outcomes for this MA, view the programme specifications.