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MA Conservation of Historic Buildings

Essential practical and professional skills in historic building conservation

Year of entry: 2024 (September)

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time,
3 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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in the UK for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

in the world for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

Engage with conservation in the context of historic buildings and develop a unique mix of practice-based and theoretical learning for your professional work or further research in the conservation sector. This course is accredited by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).

Established in 1972, this course combines essential disciplinary knowledge and advanced scholarship with hands-on experience in sustainable building conservation practice. Working alongside experienced practitioners, you will engage with practical and professional issues in a series of focused skills modules from an exciting range of related disciplines and develop your own hands-on experience in practice.

A voluntary work placement in a conservation organisation in the York region will enhance and focus your practice-based experience and you will develop your research skills in an original, independently conducted research project.

Accreditation

MA Conservation of Historic Buildings is recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and offers a bespoke route for UK practitioners to achieve full professional membership of the IHBC. 

Graduates of this course with just two years of relevant professional experience can apply to become a Full Member of the IHBC. This compares with the five years of relevant practice required of other applicants. Find out more about accreditation

The course conforms with the international ICOMOS Guidelines for Education and Training in Conservation.

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Studying this course at the University of York was probably one of the best choices I made in life. Studying in York, where history still thrives was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to do conservation work at York Minster, which gave me a broader perspective from the point of view of technicians, stonemasons and conservationists.
Aya, MA Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings)

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the duration of your course. You'll take a variety of modules and a curated placement, then hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic:

  • Semester 1 - three core modules
  • Semester 2 - three core modules
  • Summer Semester - 60 credit dissertation

Modules

Core modules

Your core modules will cover topics such as:

This programme is accredited by the IHBC and has no option modules.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.

Dissertation

You'll complete an 8,000-word dissertation on your research.

You will receive support, advice and guidance from your dissertation supervisor throughout your project. The range of expertise of our staff means we can provide you with guidance on a wide range of topics. You will have one-to-one meetings with supervisors across the Summer Semester.

Recent examples of dissertations have included:

  • Heritage at risk: a case study of the approach to Grade II assets and non-designated heritage assets in the North East
  • Standing on holy ground? What is the significance of the rural parish church for conservation professionals and parish communities and how can this inform the management of maintenance, repair and adaptation?
  • Heritage at risk: Victorian back to back houses in 21st century Leeds
  • Consideration on authenticity and integrity in the post natural disasters reconstruction, relating to traditional materials and building typology.
  • The early steelworks industry in Grenoside: A conservation plan approach.
  • Proteinaceous additives in lime mortar: a historical and analytical study
  • Managing the Industrial Ruin in a National Park A Critical Assessment of the Conservation Process

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an applied, systematic, in-depth understanding of essential disciplinary knowledge of historic buildings, their conservation and relevant academic, professional and socio-economic contexts
  • Engage critically with current debates and advanced scholarship in local and international research and environmentally-sustainable practice and advance ethical, innovative and effective solutions in building conservation and related disciplines
  • Make well-informed decisions in complex, evolving situations by applying advanced, professional-level conservation principles and methods in assessing diverse problems and/ or datasets
  • Confidently synthesise and communicate conservation principles, outcomes and public benefit to peers, public or professional audiences through a variety of forms and media
  • Demonstrate originality in approach, imaginative thinking and inventive methodologies in rigorous independent inquiry, using advanced research skills to advance knowledge and understanding in professional conservation practice
  • Contribute proactively and collaboratively to the work of a team, using online digital resources and blending skills in leadership with awareness of the roles of disciplinary and professional specialisms in building conservation
  • Apply knowledge of current policy, technical, and ethical frameworks for decision-making in building conservation, taking careful account of stakeholder interests (community, amenity and specialist groups), design principles and economic context
  • Assess and evaluate traditionally constructed buildings, their materials and performance, and adaptation in repair and retrofitting contexts with awareness of sustainable, long-term outcomes

Beautiful surroundings

York is the UK's archaeological capital. You'll study in King's Manor, a beautiful Medieval building in the centre of the historic city.

Feel at home

Informality is one of our distinctive qualities - the atmosphere in our department is friendly, supportive and enthusiastic. We want you to develop your potential and thrive at York.

Research excellence

Ranked 6th overall for our research according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£5,295£11,950
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£3,530£7,967

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

We don't anticipate there being any additional fees associated with this course. All books and resources you need will be available in the library or online and it isn't mandatory that you buy your own copies. You may wish to set aside a small budget for photocopying, depending on how you like to work.

Many of the modules have field trips associated with them. These are paid for by the department.

If you wish to undertake an optional placement as part of the course, you will need to meet the costs of things like travel to and from the placement yourself.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

We have a variety of funding options available within the department.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

One year in the Department of Archaeology was enough to gain a variety of useful skills that I will carry with me, miles away from York. MA in Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings) was a​s important for me​​​​ to develop critical thinking​,​ as to get a complete picture in the subject of conservation and manage to apply all that knowledge in the Mediterranean culture back home.
Anna, MA Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings)

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll be taught through a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars and site visits.

There is plenty of one-on-one guidance with staff and leading external experts in the conservation and heritage sector.

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is based in King's Manor, in York city centre. Your teaching will take place across King's Manor and Campus West, depending on your chosen option modules.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed by a variety of methods, including: 

  • Essays
  • Report writing
  • Project proposals
  • Dissertation

Careers and skills

Graduates have gone on to careers in archaeology and heritage-related organisations across the UK and abroad. You'll also develop transferable skills that are applicable to a multitude of careers beyond archaeology and heritage.

Career opportunities

  • Historic buildings consultant
  • Charity fundraiser
  • Planning officer
  • Conservation officer
  • Higher education researcher
  • Building surveyor

Transferable skills

  • High level of written and oral skills
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Project management
  • Time management
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the department; York and King’s Manor are the perfect place to study old buildings! The course provided hands-on experience in the construction, decay, interpretation and conservation of building fabric. There is no doubt that my year at York has been instrumental in kick-starting a career in building conservation.
Jennifer, MA Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings)

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Architecture, Archaeology, History, History of Art, Architectural History or a relevant discipline.
Other qualifications and experience Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant work experience will be considered. To find out if your professional experience or qualifications are appropriate, please contact the Course Director.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 169 in all other components
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 7 in writing and no less than 6 in all other components
Duolingo 120, minimum 120 in production and 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 70 in Writing and no less than 65 in all other components
KITE 459-494, with 459-494 in writing and 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Merit in writing and Pass with Merit in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
TOEFL 87, minimum 23 in Writing and 21 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.

Applying

You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

We interview most applicants, unless you live or work overseas.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Ashley Lingle, Course Director
Dr Louise Cooke, Course Director

Learn more

Department of Archaeology

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