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MSc Historic Building Conservation

Course Description

Why take this course?

If you have a passion and enthusiasm for the heritage of historic buildings and structures, and wish to specialise in this area, this course is ideal.

You can explore why it is important to retain such heritage sites, the financial constraints and consequences of doing so, the methods available to restore them and how heritage can be managed to best effect.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

Get involved with some of our regional regeneration projects to test and develop your ideas
Undertake studio-based design projects and engage with our other collaborative projects with academic institutions in a range of countries including Turkey, Spain and Australia
Have the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ by working on real-life contracts through our Projects Office

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course is also professionally accredited and follows the education guidelines of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS ), UNESCO and Council of Europe requirements. It is recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and covers its areas of competence. It is also accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and prepares architects and surveyors to accreditation standards (AABC and RICS Building Conservation Forum), facilitating work on English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund-funded projects. Students can also apply for full IHBC membership after two years of professional experience, as opposed to five years.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

Conservation work
Regeneration projects
Heritage management

Module Details

This course uses the experience and skills of teaching staff with a proven track record in interior historic building and conservation studies, practice and research. You will also benefit from an inter-disciplinary learning environment where more than 100 postgraduate students in architecture, interior design, urban design, sustainable architecture and historic building conservation can meet and work.

Here are the units you will study:

Practice: In this unit you will focus mainly on the practical aspects of the conservation, with an emphasis on raising awareness in conservation skills. It is delivered in collaboration with regional, national and internationals bodies specialising in conservation and is mainly fieldwork based, enabling you to analyse practical aspects and skills in different situations. Assessment is by means of submission of a number of different projects and reports related to practice.

Theory: You will learn the theoretical aspects of historic building conservation, such as historical aspects related to built heritage and relevant legislative frameworks to ensure their protection for future generations. You will look at the international historic preservation principles based on UNESCO/ICOMOS criteria.

Research Methods and Research Proposal: In this unit you will develop research skills, which will aid you throughout your course and particularly in producing your thesis. You will be asked to establish a critical position within an Outline Research Proposal. You will develop techniques, which will allow you to engage proactively within your area of study. You will be encouraged to explore methods of investigation that are responsive to, as well as inquisitive of, the conditions presented and which therefore speculate around possible critical scenarios. Implicit within these explorations is the need to investigate diverse means of representation and depiction through a variety of possible media and discourse.

Integration: This unit allows you to work in a multi-disciplinary context through groups within your own subject area and across the areas of interior design, urban design, sustainable architecture and historic building conservation, as well as explore the interrelationships of all disciplines. You will need to work collectively on given projects or problems related to staff run studios, which explore a range of given themes. You will be introduced to these themes at the start of the course and connect to research areas within the School.

Work-Based Learning: This unit gives you the opportunity to replace a 30-credit core unit with a work-based version of that unit. Not all units can be replaced and you will need to discuss the appropriateness of a unit with tutors. Work-based learning requires you to engage in critical and reflective learning in the workplace. This will be developed through a learning contract, negotiated by you, your employer and School.

Thesis: Your thesis is a substantial research-based project that enables you to carry out an in-depth investigation into a subject area of personal interest, which is related to or developed from a theme studied during the course. The proposed research theme should have a clearly defined focus to allow for in-depth theoretical, contextual and visual research. An initial seminar programme will help you develop your research proposal, define a research question and locate suitable primary and secondary sources. You will be allocated an appropriate supervisor on the basis of this proposal, who will work with you toward the final submission.

Programme Assessment

This course is lecture and studio-based, culminating in a research-based thesis project. It will involve case study investigations, group work, discussion and planning of conservation environments, as well as independent study to develop design or research-based responses to conservation problems.

Design assessment is through studio review and taught courses are assessed by various forms of evidence-based conservation design decisions and proposals. You will also carry out an in-depth research project into an area of your choice.

Student Destinations

On completing this course, you will be equipped with specialist skills to find careers within the architectural and planning professions. You will obtain professional, legal, craft, management and administration skills relevant to historic building conservation. In addition, you’ll develop historical and technical knowledge, and understand research methodologies applicable to conservation.

The creative skills, professional competencies and expansive learning environment that we provide has also led graduates into a range of careers in marketing, advertising, journalism, virtual design and modelling through to people-centred careers such as project management.

Alternatively, you can choose to continue your studies to PhD level.

Visit the MSc Historic Building Conservation page on the University of Portsmouth website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject such as Architecture, Civil Engineering, Building and Surveying, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

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Recipient: University of Portsmouth
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