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MA English Building History (online)

Explore England’s rich architectural history

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


3 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Delve into the history of English architecture, explore a range of building styles, from vernacular dwellings to the Country House, and learn how they were shaped and developed by the societies surrounding them.

Throughout the course you'll broaden your expertise of key historic buildings and the wider environment, from c.1000 to 1950, and focus on significant periods: Medieval and Early Modern, the Neo-Classical Tradition and Victorian, all the way to more modern architecture.

You will learn how to recognise archetypal styles of buildings and how these were shaped by technological, social, economic, geographic and cultural forces. You will also learn different methods of investigation and the relevance of specific buildings today, drawing on examples from across the country.

Although the course is taught online, you will not have the feeling of working by yourself but in direct contact with your tutor who provides complete assistance. You'll cover different aspects and situations you may find in jobs related to built heritage and listed buildings, develop your analytical and critical thinking and create a very interactive and interesting atmosphere.
Roberto, MA English Building History

Join a global community

Broaden your academic horizons alongside enthusiastic staff and students.

Learn online

The flexible modules can be accessed from anywhere, at any time; allowing you to shape your own learning experience.

Residential weekends

An opportunity to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in discussion and share your knowledge.

Course content

Over the first two years you will take six diverse 20-credit modules that are delivered by the Centre for Lifelong Learning. Your third year comprises an independent study module hosted by the Department of Archaeology. In this module, you will deliver an assessed lecture and write a dissertation on a subject of your choice.

You will learn the differences between regional identities, styles, typologies, materials, and how buildings may be studied, taking into account the evolution of design, planform, and construction phase analyses.

This Masters will train you to assimilate material from a variety of sources and contextualise information in relation to the history of buildings in various forms. You will also learn to identify a range of historic buildings’ developments and analyse their phases, date, materials, style, and function.

In your first year, you will have the opportunity to attend an optional residential weekend, where you will meet fellow students and staff, engage in discussions and share your knowledge of building history.


Core modules

Find out more about MA English Building History Modules.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You will complete a dissertation and assessed lecture (60 credits) through the application of research skills in the field of English Building History. This will be facilitated by the Department of Archaeology in your third year.

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 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 to 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 built history to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Research and develop a critical argument using resources gleaned 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 by independent study, involving the analysis and interpretation of primary and secondary sources, and relating them to existing scholarship and present in an assessed lecture.
  • Apply research skills in the field of English Building History.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home) / International and EU
Part-time, distance learning (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

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 strive to make reading materials available digitally within licensing agreements. When this is not possible, you may have to obtain some key texts yourself. You'll be issued reading lists in advance of each term.

UK-based students are encouraged to make use of the SCONUL Access scheme which allows the borrowing of reading materials from other libraries belonging to the scheme.

The optional residential weekends at York are free of charge to attend but you should expect to pay for food, accommodation and travel, which will vary in price depending on your location and the standard of accommodation you choose to book.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do; this is very much a taught programme. You will be continuously supported and guided by an expert lecturer who will aid your participation in a lively yet scholarly online community. 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 will study online for an average of 15 hours per week. You can decide when you choose to work, as all activities can be completed around your schedule. Our supportive staff will guide you through a well-structured syllabus that encourages discussion and informed argument.

You will learn through a combination of directed reading and guided online tasks that will challenge you to develop your independent learning, critical review, research, performance, analysis and communication skills. You'll engage with a range of learning resources such as lectures, podcasts, readings, videos, interactive quizzes and talks.

We embrace self-reflective learning through the regular keeping and sharing of logs and annual residential weekends where you can meet and learn from established academics and industry professionals. 


Your learning will take place within a supportive Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Blackboard which will give you access to study resources, discussion forums, the University of York Online Library and your University email account.

Within the VLE you will have access to a personal journal, for talking to your tutor on a one-to-one basis, and an online social space, for conversing with other students about programme material and interests or to organise social events.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed through essays, case studies, practical analyses, poster presentations and research pieces. Formative assessments that don't count towards your final mark will take place half-way through each module, with summative assessments held at the end.

Assessment then culminates with an Assessed Lecture (10%) and the Independent Study Module or Dissertation (90%) in the third year which enables you 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.

Careers and skills

This masters offers a solid grounding that could be critical to a variety of positions within the archaeology, art and heritage sectors and beyond. It also provides sound knowledge for further doctoral research, and may serve as valuable CPD for numerous professional qualifications related to English Building History to support career promotion. 

Career opportunities

Our graduates work in a variety of sectors including:

  • History
  • Architecture
  • Heritage and conservation
  • Museums sector
  • Government
  • Land management
  • Teaching
  • Journalism
  • Archives
  • Higher education
  • Archaeology
  • Local government planning
  • Chartered surveying and estate/land management
  • Civil service
  • Law
  • Accountancy and financial services
  • Police

Transferable skills

You'll develop a range of transferable skills during the course including:

  • Communication and literacy
  • Presentation
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Self-management
  • Critical thinking
  • Research and report writing
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Historical analysis
  • Problem solving

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree Typically, you'll be a graduate in a related subject area. We favourably consider students with a BA/BSc award in any subject and evidence of recent higher education level of study in this area.
Other qualifications and experience We are committed to ensuring an open access application process. We therefore seek to ensure that those without a first degree, but with evidence of substantial ability and/or achievement in a professional field, and/or those who can demonstrate regular use of the skills and expertise required for academic research and writing, have the opportunity to join. In such instances, you may be asked to submit a 1,500-word critical essay in the field of English Building History for consideration by the admissions panel. In such instances, individuals must also have a minimum of A-Level or equivalent qualifications.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will require access to a personal computer with a broadband internet connection and Microsoft Office software suite, compatible with Word and Excel formats.

The University of York reserves the right to ask for academic work to support your application and any student may be called to interview.

The Centre for Lifelong Learning is committed to ensuring non-traditional learners can access and thrive, but please be aware that this is a Masters-level programme. The nature of Building History as a discipline requires a student to acquire the basics of academic rigour, approaches and methodologies to the subject, an overview of past scholarship, but also the “language” of architecture. As such, this programme requires commitment, focus and determination. Please contact the Programme Leader, Dr Emma Wells, if you have any queries or to find out more about what the programme involves before making an application.

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 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 176 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components
Duolingo 120, minimum 110 in all other components

For more information see our English language requirements.


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

Applicants are advised to submit applications as soon as possible as places on programmes are limited. Applications can take up to six weeks to process. Our programmes are extremely popular but, to support the student experience, minimum numbers also apply, so we recommend that you submit your application by mid/late-July.

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Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Emma Wells, Lecturer and Programme Leader
Amanda Pauw, Postgraduate Administrator

Learn more

Centre for Lifelong Learning