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Postgraduate Diploma in Parish Church Studies: Heritage, History and Fabric

Course content

Parish churches are religious, historical, artistic and archaeological monuments. With social, economic and cultural implications, the parish church is a recognisable feature of villages, towns and cities across the country. 

This two-year, part-time distance learning Postgraduate Diploma in Parish Church Studies: Heritage, History and Fabric provides an excellent academic grounding in the key issues, themes and contexts associated with the changing nature of parishes and parish churches. Delivered in association with The Churches Conservation Trust, this unique qualification provides unprecedented access to local sites and valuable resources as well as discounted membership to the Trust and opportunities for work placements.

You will gain a comprehensive understanding of a breadth of notable research on topics ranging from the conservation of the church and its legislative framework, sacred objects and art, to the management and care of the churchyard. 

Joining an active community, you can craft your learning around your life by participating in flexible weekly modules in your own time, and at your own pace. The intuitive technology-enabled approach allows for lively discussions and a high degree of engagement, guidance and support. You’ll also be invited to attend an annual residential weekend to hear expert talks, network in-person and share your learning with the wider cohort of students and staff

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

This programme is delivered wholly online via a fully-supported learning environment.

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

Overview

The course comprises six distinctive modules that are taught over two years.

The interdisciplinary modules are ordered to gradually build your understanding of the field. 

You will explore the complex relationships between setting, building and community from the Anglo-Saxon era to the modern day, and the subsequent impact that these have had, and continue to have, in understanding, using and managing these buildings. You’ll be introduced to a wide range of sources, evidence types and approaches from across each period

At the end of each academic year, you will be invited to attend an optional residential weekend in York to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in discussions and share your knowledge.

Structure

The course comprises six distinctive modules that are taught over two years.

The interdisciplinary modules are ordered to gradually build your understanding of the field. 

You will explore the complex relationships between setting, building and community from the Anglo-Saxon era to the modern day, and the subsequent impact that these have had, and continue to have, in understanding, using and managing these buildings. You’ll be introduced to a wide range of sources, evidence types and approaches from across each period

At the end of each academic year, you will be invited to attend an optional residential weekend in York to meet your fellow students and staff, engage in discussions and share your knowledge.

Structure

In the first year, you’ll learn about core historical concepts and methodologies in relation to church history and engage with primary research in such topics.

The the Autumn and Spring Term, modules explore issues arising from the nature, extent and survival of evidence, and objects of faith in the context of their study, care and interaction with specialist and statutory bodies. By exploring primary research on such topics, you’ll develop an awareness of core historical concepts and methodologies relating to church history. 

In the Summer Term, you’ll consolidate this knowledge through the study and application of sources for church history by examining the history of Christian worship in parish churches from the Anglo-Saxon era to the present day.

  • Autumn Term - Sources and Issues for the History of the Parish & Parish Church
  • Spring Term - Objet D'art, Objects of Faith: Exploring Past & Present Challenges & Issues
  • Summer Term - Worship and Ritual in Context

Year Two

During Year Two, you will consolidate your knowledge of core and specialist historical concepts, particularly current debates in the discipline, encouraging a deeper engagement with primary research.

You'll investigate the wider contextual background of the parish church, including examining social structures and changes in the late medieval and Early Modern period.

The programme culminates with an examination of the current realities facing the Church, conservation history and practice, regulatory systems, issues of change and the notion of significance, before concluding on people and issues of ownership.

  • Autumn Term - Parish and Community
  • Spring Term - Church and Churchyard: Parish Churches in their Physical & Social Context
  • Summer Term - The Use, Conservation and Change of Church Buildings

Online Study

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
  • Although this programme is taught online, our supportive staff will guide you through a well-structured syllabus that encourages discussion and informed argument.

Careers and Opportunities

Parish Church Studies will provide you with a range of highly transferable skills that enhance employability. A key focus of our degree is training in oral communication: from Year One, your learning takes place in small groups and trained to develop presentations in collaboration with other students. You'll also be shown how to effectively utilise audio and visual tools and encouraged to make contributions to group discussions.

This programme can also serve as a valuable continuing professional development (CPD) opportunity for numerous professional bodies and memberships related to the Church, particularly the IHBC, who have recognised the Diploma for such purposes.

Our partnership with the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) provides access to local sites and resources, and further opportunities to undertake valuable work placements across areas covered by the Trust, such as maintenance and regeneration. 


Visit the Postgraduate Diploma in Parish Church Studies: Heritage, History and Fabric page on the University of York website for more details!

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