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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

This MA aims to introduce you to the issues involved in global cultural heritage management as a foundation for both professional and academic paths. It benefits from Durham University’s unique situation, living and studying within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and examines tangible and intangible heritage from international, national and local perspectives. Durham University established the first ever UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, held by Professor Robin Coningham. The degree has strong links with the Durham World Heritage Site and with other local, regional, national and international heritage sites and organisations, many of whom offer placement opportunities.

There are two routes through the MA: the Cultural Heritage Research route which concludes with a dissertation. The Professional Practice Route which concludes with an analytical case study report.

Course modules:

Debating Heritage and Museums

This joint module is taken by students on the MA programmes in International Cultural Heritage Management and in Museum and Artefact Studies. The emphasis is on student-led debates exploring key issues affecting heritage and museums globally. Topics addressed include defining ‘heritage’ and ‘museums’; contested histories; social, economic and cultural contexts; public engagement; ethical dilemmas; digital heritage. Students are able to develop and challenge shared conceptual frameworks using case-studies from around the world, gain relevant methodological skills to gather, analyse and critically evaluate data and concepts used in the discourse of cultural heritage and develop study and research skills appropriate to heritage studies, including working as reflective practitioners.

Managing Cultural Heritage in Context (double unit running through two terms)

This module will draw on case studies and seminars from international heritage organisations including World Heritage Sites. You will participate in student-led seminars in which each student will develop a case study including consideration of education and outreach in cultural heritage. It includes management of cultural heritage including strategic planning, financial management and people, collection and site management.

A project-based placement (or equivalent) provides a professional practice element.

Dissertation or Analytical Case Study Report

The MA concludes with a choice of modules. Students wanting to work in the profession may choose to prepare detailed analytical case study report focusing on a site or heritage organisation of their choice. Students wishing to continue to explore theoretical issues in this complex subject or plan to pursue a career in other contexts, including taking a higher level degree, may choose the Dissertation module.

Graduates from the degree have gone on to work in posts in heritage sites and related organisations ranging from management to funding raising and heritage education to outreach as well as developing careers in allied sectors or going on to PhD studies; see ‘where are they now


The course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and webinars, tutorials and workshops with visits to relevant heritage sites.

Lectures underpin the core knowledge requirements of the degree by introducing students to key concepts, methodologies and analytical approaches. They also serve as examples of research-led critical analysis and applied expertise, thus demonstrating to students both subject-specific knowledge and the key skills necessary to acquire and communicate this. As well as more traditional podium-based approach, lectures are combined with interactive seminar-style discussions. These are delivered by specialists from within the Department and elsewhere in the University as well as from national and international heritage institutions and sites, including World Heritage Sites.

Webinars are used to introduce students to specific heritage sites and issues around the world in real-time debate with international professionals by video link. These case study presentations are followed by seminar discussions mediated by the module convenor.

A variety of seminars take place in different modules with different formats and distinct learning goals. This learning methodology encourages students to explore discussions in depth, learn to marshal their arguments in a group setting and respond appropriately to a diverse range of informed opinions. Students are exposed to, and expected to produce, a variety of different presentations in seminars and to contribute effectively and appropriately to the subsequent debate to encourage critical thinking. Formative assessment is given as relevant.

Reading seminars encourage independent learning and critical reflection. Students are required to read and consider specified texts or cultural heritage exemplars before the seminar discussions.

Student-led seminars require students to prepare either an individual presentation or construct and contribute to group presentations. Presentations in these test students’ abilities to identify key topics, reflect on, and analyse, these using appropriate methods. Some of these seminars focus on work-in-progress, allowing students to demonstrate subject-specific analytical skills and their ability to apply self-reflectively subject-related knowledge and theoretical models to a particular case study or issue. Skills at constructing and synthesising complex arguments clearly are tested both in producing the presentation and defending their argument appropriately while demonstrating an independent approach to learning, thinking self-critically and creatively as well as problem-solving. Self-expression, the ability to make coherent arguments and the capacity to contribute effectively and appropriately to debates are also tested in these seminars.

The Poster Debate requires students to prepare a poster using appropriate IT and prepare an accompanying hand-out for their peers, communicating their analysis of the case study of a heritage site they identified and researched prior to starting the course. This debate has multiple functions: it encourages the students to interact as a cohort early on in the MA programme, provides an opportunity for exchanging ideas and issues and starts to develop supporting research resources using the required citation format. During the debate itself, students give a summary of the poster and answer questions from their peers. Posters require the succinct presentation of information and analysis and so test students’ ability to condense findings to the most important elements without losing valuable focus and to crease a visually appealing written presentation using charts and figures as appropriate. This learning activity replicates a common professional mode of communication in the sector. It offers students the opportunity to reflect on issues of design and the use of text and images to communicate complex information and ideas in a specific format and to engage in active debate. Written formative feedback will be provided to students on their presentations, handouts and contributions to debate supported by discussion in one-to-one tutorials with the aiming of enhancing the development of their summative assignment.

The Scenario Analysis Work-in-Progress Seminar requires students to give presentations on the site or organization which they have selected for the Scenario Analysis. They present the first phase of the study including a justification of their choice of site/organization, a review of the nature of this site/organization and one of the future plan scenarios. This presentation provides a moment of critical self-reflection on progress for the individual student and also enables them to benefit from debate with their peers and formative feedback from the Module Convenor

The Professional Practice Project and Dissertation Research Work-in-Progress Seminar requires students to give presentations of their research and professional project work in progress. These presentations provide a moment of critical self-reflection on progress for the individual student by requiring them to outline research so far undertaken and justify their chosen theoretical framework and methodologies. It also offers an opportunity for students to provide critical feedback to their peers and exchange ideas, problems and solutions. Formative feedback is provided by the Module Convenor. In this way, these seminars serve as the summation of the process of reflective practice begun at the start of the MA.

Professional Placements

These are designed to offer students the opportunity to develop and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired elsewhere in the taught MA programme and put their learning into practice by reflecting on and integrating their experience in the workplace in their course work. The placements are set up by the Course Director and are project-based. Students will undertake appropriate research, develop proposals and implement the project to an agreed level, depending on the different host institutions and the project goals. The aim is to ensure that the outcome of a placement is a completed project ‘product’ which should be of benefit to both the host institution and the student. A Professional Practice Research Project is available for students for whom a Placement is not an appropriate choice. In this, students identify and research a key issue in contemporary professional practice in cultural heritage and produce a comparable portfolio.

Reflective Practice

Students are encouraged to maintain a Reflective Practice Log throughout the programme. They are introduced to the concept and practice of Reflective Practice at the start of the programme in order to ensure their effective engagement with this learning and self-development tool. Maintaining a Reflective Practice Log throughout the programme enables them to record and reflect on their personal and professional development in a structured way and help them identify their strengths and weakness and identify areas for further learning. This approach will enable them to reflect on and deepen their learning, research and professional practice and provides a framework for independent learning as well as providing a link to professional practice. This Log will also provide a bridge between the different modules as well as feeding into assignments including the Placement / Professional Practice portfolios. It will be used to inform one-to-one tutorials and help to frame the concluding Analytical Case Study Report or Dissertation. Students will be provided with an initial framework for the Log’s content although it may take different physical formats. However, students will be required to create a log in a format accessible to the module convenor and submit it prior to appropriate tutorials. For a programme which has ambitions to link theory and practice, academia and professional, this is the ideal model to enable students to manage and develop their own intellectual and professional expertise.

Visits/Field Trips

These provide an enhanced learning experience of subject material uniquely available in specific locations. Learning and teaching on the Durham World Heritage site is central to this programme.

Self-guided Learning

Comprising personal study but supported by group discussions and feedback in seminars, this is an essential element of MA level learning. Students will undertake self-driven research, revision, problem-solving and critical evaluation on topics and concepts associated with lectures, workshops, seminars and assignments. In this process they will be assisted by using the Reflective Log (see above) and group and individual tutorials.

Professional Practice Project / Dissertation

These projects enable students on both routes to select, design, execute and communicate an extended piece of research in either M4 Professional Practice Project or M5 Dissertation. These modules provide students with the opportunity to extend and apply knowledge and learning achieved in preceding modules, enhance and apply their methodological skills and demonstrate their ability in identifying and analysing relevant theoretical models, literature and data in an extended professional piece of writing at appropriate scholarly and academic standards. Analytical Case Study Reports and Dissertations will be supported by a designated individual with relevant subject-specific knowledge and/or experience. As noted above, the Reflective Practice Log will support the development of this research process.


These provide a forum for a student-centred discursive engagement, sometimes as a group but also a one-to-one basis.

Group tutorials are intensive, small-group sessions that allow a more personalised interaction than may be possible in a seminar or lecture context. They serve to complement lectures and workshops. Tutorials enable an atmosphere in which student questions are encouraged and where they are provided with an opportunity to address subjects which are proving particularly difficult. They allow the Module Convenor to get to know students and address potential problems at an early stage. One-to-one tutorials provide the opportunity to address individual student’s learning progress and goals in a relatively informal learning environment. Tutorials enable learners to develop, discuss, question and receive feedback on the full range of their subject-specific knowledge and critical understanding and may be integrated into specific modules such as the Professional Practice Project and the Dissertation. The Reflective Practice Log is used during placements as a framework for reflecting on progress.

Entry requirements

We normally require an Honours Degree, usually at the 2:1 level or higher or an international equivalent, such as a GPA of 3.3 or above. The course is taught assuming no prior knowledge, but an ability to demonstrate previous interest or experience of cultural heritage would be an advantage. Students should be willing to prepare a cultural heritage case study to bring with them.

Reference requirements:

One satisfactory reference is required.

Application deadlines

There is no specific deadline for applications although applications for any given academic year must be received before the start of that academic year (i.e. applications for the 2023-24 academic year must be received before October 2023).

Tuition fee deposit

All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa. £500 deposit is also payable by Home/EU applicants if an offer of a place from the Department of Archaeology is accepted.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,300 per year
EU students £23,500 per year
Island students £11,300 per year
International students £23,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,300 per year
EU students £13,000 per year
Island students £6,300 per year
International students £13,000 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.

Department information


Our internationally respected research expertise will provide you with some of the best resources available for archaeological research. Here at Durham, we have one of only three commercial archaeology units in the UK based in a university department. You will be able to work with experts and have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and specialised facilities in the Department of Archaeology.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 8th in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Archaeology 2022
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see our Archaeology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 97% of our research outputs graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)
  • 2nd in the UK top ten for the overall quality of research (REF 2021)


We are one of the most comprehensively equipped archaeology departments in the UK. Our facilities include project rooms with state-of-the-art interactive technology, teaching laboratories, a computer suite, a photographic studio, internationally renowned scientific research laboratories in DNA, conservation, isotopes, environmental archaeology, luminescence dating, palaeopathology, soil and bone chemistry, and collections that support research in biometrics, informatics, and Anglo Saxon stone sculpture.

More information on our facilities and equipment.

Visit Us

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Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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