‌MA in English Building History

An online study programme

The MA in English Building History is a collaborative programme delivered by Lifelong Learning and the Department of Archaeology.

Over the course of study, we broadly cover England’s architectural history from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day. A range of significant buildings and sites from vernacular dwellings to the Country House are considered, and thus the difference between vernacular and polite styles of building. As well as engaging with key themes and debates, students will be trained in the practical skills of analysis. You will learn how to recognise archetypal styles, and how these were shaped by technological, social, economic, geographic and cultural forces; different methods of investigation; and the relevance of such buildings today, drawing on examples from across the country.‌

The programme starts in late September/early October, concurrent with each new academic year – places are limited to ensure a constructive atmosphere for discussions.

This is a three-year, part-time, MA programme delivered online in a fully-supported learning environment, with blended learning support for the final year Independent Study Module. Students can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma if their circumstances change.



  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge and expertise of English building history and of key buildings c.1000-1950
  • Demonstrate understanding of buildings as manifestations of complex social, cultural, economic, and political influences characteristic of a particular historical era and an awareness of the associated scholarly themes and debates
  • Apply a range of specialised skills required for analysing, understanding, and interpreting English built history
  • Assimilate material from a variety of sources and contextualise information in relation to the history of buildings in various forms
  • Identify a range of historic buildings’ developments and analyse their phases, date, materials, style, and function
  • Identify, select, and employ appropriate media for communicating ideas clearly on English building history to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Research and develop a critical argument using resources from a broad spectrum of intellectual fields
  • Apply contemporary interpretive and theoretical approaches to the form, function, and meaning of a range of historic building types
  • Complete a dissertation that is a substantial piece of independent research and present an assessed lecture
  • Apply research skills in the field of English Building History.

The MA is an excellent degree for providing a broad range of skills which are integral to students’ employability. Successful students will be better able to conduct research projects in English Building History as well as identify, evaluate and analyse a range of historic building types, styles and materials meaning that problem-solving skills are developed through each distinctive module. However, self-management is also a critical skill of postgraduate and distance learning study and students have to develop their self-motivation and time management, particularly when researching their independent study projects. A key focus is teaching students to develop research skills and report writing throughout their degree but particularly in independent studies. Creativity and innovation is important and we encourage students to generate new ideas. Many of our modules encourage social, cultural and global awareness and students learn to identify the legislative issues associated with their research projects and in relevant cases, apply the correct procedures.

The programme offers a solid grounding that could be critical to a variety of positions within the archaeology, art and heritage sectors in addition to law, local government planning, chartered surveying and estate/land management, accountancy and financial services, teaching and the police and civil service, as well as providing sound knowledge for further doctoral research. It may also serve as valuable CPD for numerous professional qualifications related to English Building History to support career promotion.



This part-time three-year programme will initially comprise six 20-credit modules:

  • An Introduction to the Built Environment
  • The Medieval Era
  • Early Modern Buildings 
  • The Neo-Classical Tradition
  • The Modern Era
  • Approaches to Historic Buildings Research.

More information about the modules is available at MA in English Building History Module Details

Students will then undertake a 60-credit Independent Study Module (ISM) facilitated by the Department of Archaeology in the third year, which will operate under their usual regulations for ISMs.  The ISM includes an assessed lecture assessment. The dates of these will be made available in a timely fashion to allow for travel and accommodation to be arranged. An alternative assessment via Skype (or its equivalent) will be arranged in the event the student is unable to attend campus.


A number of assessment methods are employed throughout the first two years of study. Both formative and summative assessments in the form of essays, case studies, practical analyses, visual studies, poster presentations, recording projects/log books, desk-based reports and research pieces will be the primary means by which students’ understanding of and opinions on the current discourse in the literature will be judged. Formative assessments take place half-way through each module with summative assessments held at the very end.

Competence with investigative and analytical techniques will be established both through engagement with and critiquing the work of current and past scholars, as well as through students’ capacity to assert their own views on particular topics based on this, primary source material and their own practical-based research and interpretations of built structures. Where possible, students will be encouraged to conduct their own primary research, so as to inform better their thinking on the content of the modules.

Essentially each summative assessment provides a different skillset in relation to building history. As such, the skillset obtained from each is integral to progression. Each summative task assesses a different aspect in the research and understanding of built history. The formative task serves to engage students with the material and assess whether they have taken in and understood it; the summative tasks then build on this so that students then take broader analytical and contextual skills, and apply these to the material they have assumed.

Assessment then culminates with an Assessed Lecture (10%) and the Independent Study Module or Dissertation (90%) in the third year which enables students to design, execute, and report on an in-depth self-directed piece of research in an area of English Building History, or a related subject.

Online Study

What's involved?

Our approach to e-learning is distinctive and may be different from your general perceptions about online study:

  • Flexible, fully supported, modular delivery
  • Taught exclusively online
  • Part-time study (approximately 15 hours per week) allows participants to structure their learning around the other life circumstances


Key points

  • These are not self-study programmes which leave you on your own, nor are they Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You will be part of an active learning community with regular contacts and activities.
  • The technology-based approach means that our programmes are highly flexible, and you can study from anywhere at a time convenient to you. They are however carefully structured and you will be asked to participate in tasks and activities every week.
  • The programme is highly interactive and comprises numerous blog-driven tasks and exercises. You can engage with the tasks at any time during the week, and you don’t ever have to be online at the same time as other people, but can engage through a simple commenting function.
  • The learning takes place within a reflective and supportive environment, providing all the benefits of studying as part of a community but without having to be in a physical classroom
  • As well as interacting with your fellow students, you will also have regular discussions with a dedicated and friendly academic and administrative team at York.
  • The programmes are situated within a Virtual Learning Environment called Blackboard. This is a user-friendly integrated website that provides access to study resources, discussion forums, the University of York Online Library and your University email account.


The York Team

A key feature of our programme is the availability and quality of support that we offer through module tutors, pastoral support and a dedicated administrative and technical support team.


Residential Weekends

We hold an optional two-day Residential Weekend at York each year. Each event is an opportunity to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in discussion and share your knowledge. These events are free of charge, though students are expected to meet the costs of their travel, accommodation and sustenance. 

Entry Requirement & Costs

Who is the programme for?

The programme is aimed at anyone with an interest in English Building History.


Admissions Criteria

Normally students will be expected to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in a related subject area. CLL will also favourably consider any student previously awarded a BA/BSc in any subject, and with evidence of recent HE level study in this area.

As a Centre based upon the cornerstone of open access, Lifelong Learning will also seek to ensure that those without the qualifications highlighted above, but with the obvious ability to succeed, have the opportunity to engage.

In such instances, the presentation of a critical essay in the field of English Building History may be requested and considered by the admissions panel; the Admissions Panel reserves the right to ask any student for academic work to support their application.

Any student may be called to interview.

Students must have an IELTS score of 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.5 in Writing (or equivalent). Details of the requirements for distance learning students can be found at English language requirements: distance learning 2017/18

  • Sufficient study time: approximately 15 hours per week including the capacity to take part regularly in the online weekly tutorial group discussions. These are an essential part of the study process.
  • A willingness to share your experience and be an active member of your tutorial group.
  • A personal computer with a broadband internet connection and Office software suite, compatible with Word and Excel formats. 


Programme Cost

The online MA in English Building History is priced in line with other University postgraduate programmes, details of which can be found at http://www.york.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/fees-funding/.

For 2018/19, the cost of the first year will be £3,030. Fees in subsequent years are subject to confirmation.

Students may be entitled to a government-backed loan of up to £10,000 under the UK Government Postgraduate Loan scheme. More information can be found at Government Masters loans.

Students can spread the cost of their tuition fees. More information can be found at Finance and financial support for distance learners.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at the University of York, you could be eligible for a 10% discount on your tuition fee. See more information about the York Graduate Loyalty Discount.


How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application system.

If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.



Amanda Pauw: 
Postgraduate Administrator 
Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 8482 

Dr Emma Wells 
Associate Lecturer

Applications for 2018/19 have now closed. The application portal will reopen in late September 2018.