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Training for careers in heritage conservation

Why choose this course?

If you’re interested in a career in heritage or historic building conservation, the Conservation Studies course at York gives you the theoretical knowledge and practical, hands-on experience you will need for a professional role in the sector. Established in 1972, the course was the first of its kind in the UK, and has developed an international reputation for producing highly skilled and knowledgeable conservation practitioners.
-Understand historic and evolving practice in heritage conservation.
-Gain vital work experience and learn practical, hands-on skills.
-Build relationships with conservation specialists and research organisations locally, nationally and internationally.
-Develop careers-focused knowledge, experience and contacts.
-Study in the heritage capital of Britain – be part of conservation in action.
-Access state-of-the-art facilities, including laboratories, archives and libraries.
-Choose to study full-time over one year or part-time over two or three years.

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.

The University also validates the MSc in Building Conservation and Timber Building Conservation at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, more details from the Weald & Downland Museum webpage.

What does the course at York cover?

The core of the MA in Conservation Studies covers the history and philosophy of historic environment conservation, and provides a critical understanding of contemporary issues in building conservation practice. Theoretical elements of the course are complemented by a wide choice of short ‘skills modules’, which focus on developing your knowledge of the specialist skills that are an essential part of professional practice.

By choosing a specific set of accredited modules, you can gain the more specialised MA in Conservations Studies (Historic Buildings), which is recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). As such, it offers a bespoke route for UK practitioners working towards full professional membership of the IHBC.

Who is it for?

This course attracts a vibrant mix of UK and international students. These include graduates in architecture, archaeology, history of art, architectural history, and related subjects, as well as experienced conservation practitioners from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, including architects, surveyors planners, conservators and practising craftsmen in various fields. We welcome the diversity of our students’ backgrounds.

What can it lead to?

The course focuses on the knowledge and skills required for a wide range of careers in heritage conservation and related fields. Recent students have gone on to employment with organisations ranging from the National Trust, Historic England, English Heritage and ICCROM to building preservation trusts, local authority services, heritage consultancies and conservation practices.


The work placement module gives you a chance to gain practical experience of working in the professional heritage-conservation sector. The placement will draw on and develop the knowledge and experience gained on your taught courses, while enabling you to develop new skills in conservation and heritage management, to enhance your employability and confidence in practice.

-To provide students with experience of conservation within a professional environment.
-To consolidate students’ knowledge and understanding of conservation procedures and issues from one or more of the taught modules.

Learning outcomes
Upon completing the placement you should:
-Have gained knowledge and skills in evaluating historic buildings and environments, and be able to advise on their conservation requirements.
-Have an understanding of the practical applications of conservation principles and ethics.
-Be able to critically reflect on the issues raised in the core conservation modules through your work experience.


The MA in Conservation Studies has a strong focus on enhancing employability and professional development with a valuable combination of practical skills and theoretical understanding. By the end of the course you will have:
-Enhanced your skills and knowledge, improving your chances of employment as a heritage-conservation practitioner.
-Developed intellectually and personally through direct engagement with conservation professionals and specialists.
-Developed the ability to work in a team through group working and placement experiences, and independently through research for your dissertation
-Received guidance on career opportunities in the conservation sector and the key networks for employment
-Worked alongside our Regional Heritage Skills Coordinator with the National Heritage Training Academy

Course postgraduates have gone on to careers in heritage conservation roles across the UK, for organisations including:
-English Heritage
-Historic Scotland
-INTACH (Indian National Trust)
-The National Trust
-Building Preservation Trusts
-Local authority conservation services in England and Scotland
-National Parks
-The Council for British Archaeology
-Architectural practices and heritage consultancies
-Traditional building conservation craft businesses

Others have used the skills gained to pursue careers in other sectors, including:
-Chartered surveying
-Business and administration
-International affairs

Visit the Conservation Studies - MA/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of York website for more details!




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