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MSc Heritage

Our MSc Heritage provides you with a state-of-the-art, critically informed, interdisciplinary education in heritage and its place in society, including its conservation and management.

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc
  • Start date September
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time

Heritage is a global phenomenon with diverse economic, social, and political roles. It encompasses the surviving tangible and intangible traces of the past, but also the processes and practices that frame heritage in the present and produce particular kinds of futures.

The aim of this degree programme is to provide a critically informed interdisciplinary education in heritage, with three pathways. You may choose to specialise in one of these pathways or opt to take the broad programme without specialisation:

Shared core modules provide a foundation in current conceptual and theoretical debates about the nature of heritage and its importance in society, as well as practical issues relating to its conservation and management. Case studies, fieldtrips and input from heritage professionals introduce students to specific kinds of heritage and ‘real-world’ challenges, demands and opportunities.

Cutting-edge research training provides students with an excellent foundation for conducting independent research in the Dissertation, whilst vocational skills are embedded throughout the programme to produce competitive, work-ready graduates.

It provides successful students with excellent training for a career in the heritage sector, supported by critical-thinking, in-depth knowledge and wide-ranging skills. It also provides a strong foundation for doctoral research for those students contemplating a PhD in Heritage or a related area.

Successful graduates will be extremely well-placed to address current challenges and debates surrounding heritage and play an active role contributing to sustainable and resilient heritage futures

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Course objectives

    On successful completion of this programme, you should be able to:

    1. Show critical understanding of the theories, concepts and principles used in heritage studies and heritage practice, as well as apply them to complex interdisciplinary problems and evidence

    2. Demonstrate an intensive, detailed and critical knowledge of heritage, with the option to specialise in a pathway

    3. Understand and deploy conservation policy and national/international heritage legislation to various ‘real-world’ scenarios

    4. Apply critical reflection, analysis, evaluation and synthesis to developments, issues and challenges at the forefront of heritage research and practice

    5. Use a significant range of vocational skills, digital techniques and specialised practices associated with the heritage sector

    6. Search, retrieve, manage and analyse information from a wide variety of sources, including texts, numerical data, material culture, buildings, landscapes and people

    7. Design, conduct and present an independent piece of research, informed by principles of ethical research
  • Work placements

    Students have the opportunity to do a work-related dissertation as an alternative to the standard academic dissertation. While the assessment is the same for both, a work-related dissertation addresses an applied research topic developed in collaboration with an external partner. This topic will depend on the partner and its remit, but may focus on heritage management; collections management; heritage interpretation; event development, delivery and/or evaluation; digital and online media; audience engagement; contribution to exhibition development; marketing and fundraising; educational events and public engagement/outreach.

    Vocational skills, critical reflection and career development are embedded throughout the MSc Heritage, and there are a variety of opportunities for networking with professionals in the heritage sector.

    The University of Stirling also offers its students a range of internships and details can be found here.

  • Flexible learning

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Faculty facilities

    The Faculty of Arts and Humanities hosts the interdisciplinary Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy. You will be a student member of the Centre and benefit from the vibrant lunchtime seminar series delivered by the Centre, as well as other events.

    The Faculty is based in the Grade A Listed Pathfoot Building, which is also home to the University’s important art and sculpture collections. The Art Collection Curators contribute guest teaching and from time-to-time offer placements that MSc students can apply for.

    The University has a number of national and international partnerships relating to heritage education and research. Our partnership with Historic Environment Scotland is particularly central to what we do and students benefit from The Engine Shed, their flagship national conservation centre located in Stirling. Other important partnerships include the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City.

    The University of Stirling has an important heritage of its own. It was opened in 1967, one of the UK’s ground-breaking ‘plate glass’ Universities, which was part of a national drive to open up and diversify higher education. The University is set within the beautiful landscaped grounds of the historic Airthrey Estate with its associated Castle and Loch. You can find out more from this detailed Conservation Report produced by Simpson and Brown Architects.

  • Research

    The MSc Heritage is delivered by academics conducting leading research at the forefront of a range of heritage specialisations. These include the following: heritage, identity and sense of place; heritage management and conservation; significance and authenticity; public values and community heritage; digital heritage; environmental challenges and the impact of extreme events; museums and their collections; intangible heritage and world heritage sites. Their research also has wide-ranging impact in these areas and they collaborate closely with a range of national and international heritage organisations.  This research informs teaching and supervision on the programme, providing you with access to state-of-the-art knowledge and expertise, as well as industry contacts and ‘real-world’ examples encompassing some of the most pressing challenges facing the heritage sectors. 

    At the University of Stirling, Heritage research is submitted with History for evaluation by the UK’s Research Excellent Framework. In the last assessment (REF 2014), 100% of our research impact in History was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

    Cutting-edge research training will provide you with excellent support for supervised independent research in your Dissertation. Successful completion of the programme (with merit or distinction) will provide also you with a very strong foundation for doctoral study in a range of related disciplines. The University of Stirling’s new PhD in Heritage to provides an attractive progression route for top students graduating from this degree.

  • Academic requirements

    The degree programme is open to applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds (across the Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Computing Science and Natural Sciences), as well as those in the workforce who wish to obtain a higher qualification in this area.

    Your Honours degree or equivalent should be in a relevant subject. Ideally students should have a 2:1 or above in their first degree. We will consider students with a 2:2, but the programme is not recommended for those with a low or borderline 2:2 (or equivalent) in their first degree.

  • English language requirements

    If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

    • IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with 56 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

This MSc programme provides you with an excellent foundation in current conceptual and theoretical debates, alongside a strong grounding in practical issues relating to the conservation and management of heritage. You will find a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches, with modules from a wide range of disciplines, providing successful students with more advanced and diverse skills. Fieldtrips, case studies, and input from heritage professionals offer first-hand learning from a range of local, national, international, and professional contexts. You will also have the opportunity to take option modules with Stirling Management School (e.g. in project management and managing change). Cutting-edge research training provided by academic staff at the forefront of research in their fields provides successful students with an excellent foundation for independent research.

Students have the opportunity to simply register for the MSc Heritage or to specialise in one of three pathways. To qualify for a specialized pathway you must take a minimum of 20 credits from the designated pathway option modules. You must also undertake a pathway-specific dissertation.

Degree pathways

For each of the MSc Heritage pathways shown below, you'll also choose from a range of optional modules alongside the compulsory modules that are listed.

Cultural Heritage Studies Pathway

Cultural Heritage Studies is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that promotes critical understandings of how heritage operates in a global, interconnected contemporary world. The Cultural Heritage pathway enables you to engage with foundational issues in heritage conservation, management and interpretation through a dialogue between theory and practice. You will examine how heritage is selected, managed and used in response to present and future societal challenges. This pathway provides a grounded, yet critically informed, knowledge of the social and political ‘work’ of heritage, underpinned by the different intercultural perspectives and values that shape heritage. A broad range of option modules allow you to specialise in particular areas, such as intangible heritage; identity, memory and place-making; collecting and curating in museums; and managing historic environments. Option modules from the Stirling Management School also provide the opportunity to specialise in areas of management relevant to the heritage sector. Successful graduates are well-placed to address current challenges and debates surrounding heritage and play an active role contributing to new heritage futures.

View Cultural Heritage Pathway leaflet

Heritage and Environment Pathway

Current global challenges, such as climate change, extreme events, migration, conflict and poverty can have a profound impact on both heritage and environment, making them more inextricably bound together than ever. Drawing on approaches from across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, this pathway offers interdisciplinary perspectives on heritage and environment and the challenges facing them ranging from the local to the global. Building on the critical understandings of theory and practice gained in core modules, option modules will enable you to develop specialist knowledge of areas such as managing historic environments, place-making, environmental impact assessment, and environmental law. Option modules from the Stirling Management School also allow the opportunity to develop management skills relevant to these problems. Successful graduates from this pathway are ready to make a difference by working for organisations in charge of diverse historic environments, cultural landscapes and related resources to create sustainable and resilient futures.

View Heritage and Environment Pathway leaflet

Digital Heritage Pathway

Digital technologies and web platforms are profoundly transforming what we consider to be heritage and our ways of interacting with it. The Digital Heritage Pathway in the MSc Heritage enables you to gain cutting-edge knowledge and hands-on experience, combining a critical approach to heritage studies with data science, digital cultural engagement, and a range of social research methods from qualitative to data-intensive. It offers a unique blending of teaching in the theory and applications of digital methods to produce, manage, interpret and research heritage resources. You will benefit from interdisciplinary as well as cross-sector teaching, drawing on heritage studies, media and communication, data and computer science, education and social science methods, as well as access to the expertise of external collaborators working in galleries, museums, archives, libraries and other heritage organisations. Digital knowledge and skills are increasingly sought-after in the heritage sector due to their potential to widen accessibility, enable the creation of original and imaginative narratives, link-up user groups and collections internationally and allow tapping web archives to gain insights into audience profiles and behaviours. Successful graduates from the pathway understand how digital technologies are changing heritage practices, and can critically apply a range of digital methods and tools to operate effectively in the heritage industry, curating, interpreting and managing heritage places and collections.

View Digital Heritage Pathway leaflet

If you choose not to specialise in one of the pathways detailed above, you'll study the following modules on the broad MSc Heritage course:



The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Learning, teaching and assessment on the programme are designed to meet the learning outcomes and develop key graduate attributes to support your career development. You will be taught in small seminar groups led by academics at the forefront of research in their fields. Lecturers will set you directed reading and individual/group exercises in advance of seminar classes to encourage active student-led learning. Discussion and debate will encourage close interaction with staff and fellow students, advancing your understanding of key (often controversial) topics. You will also be asked to make formal and informal presentations, which will allow you to develop advanced communication skills. A strong interdisciplinary framework, offering modules from a wide range of disciplines, will introduce you to advanced and diverse skills. Fieldtrips, case studies, and input from heritage professionals will be used to provide you with first-hand learning from a range of local, national, international, and professional contexts.

    A significant amount of your time will be spent on undertaking independent study drawing on a variety of sources. This culminates in the dissertation where you produce a substantial piece of independent research on your chosen Pathway area. You will receive expert direction from an academic supervisor. If you choose to do a work-related dissertation you will also have support from an external partner in addition to your academic supervisor. Our cutting-edge research training module will provide you with an excellent foundation for this independent research, providing you with the skills to both design and conduct research projects in your future career pathway and/or further study.

    We also draw on our formal heritage sector partnerships in the delivery of this programme, including Historic Environment Scotland and the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City, Beijing. You will also benefit from our extensive relationships with other organisations in the heritage sector, such as The National Trust for Scotland, Archaeology Scotland, National Museums Scotland, and The British Museum.

  • Fieldwork

    Across your programme of study your classroom and independent learning is enhanced through fieldtrips. These provide first-hand experience of a wide variety of heritage sites, organisations, projects, natural and/or cultural environments, depending on your course selection. Through innovative design, fieldtrips support your attainment of course objectives by being integrated with learning outcomes, coursework and/or assessments. Our extensive relationships and partnerships with organisations in the heritage sector ensure a stimulating range of fieldtrips across the programme and provide opportunity for you to deepen your understanding of the interplay between the local and global in heritage management, conservation, and interpretation.

  • Assessment

    On this degree programme your assessment will be based on coursework, along with a supervised piece of independent research in the form of a dissertation. There will be no formal examination papers, but you experience a wide range of assessment methods designed to develop and assess advanced knowledge, critical thinking and diverse intellectual and practical skills. In addition to essay assignments, depending on your module choices, you may produce oral presentations, reports, critical evaluations, academic posters, significance assessments, conservation plans, blogs and/or digi-essays among other things. The dissertation offers a standard academic route or a ‘directed’ route where you can work with an outside partner on an applied topic. Assessment is closely linked to the intended learning outcomes for specific modules and strongly supported by the teaching and learning you experience. Your lecturers will provide formative assessment and feedback embedded in the teaching, or via office hours, to support your preparation for assignments. Students must pass all the taught modules and achieve a pass grade in the dissertation to be awarded the Postgraduate qualification.

  • Classroom hours

    Your exact timetable will depend on your module choices. Each module typically has 2 to 3 hours per week in the form of seminars and workshops, with fieldtrips taking up additional half or full days. For these you will also be required to engage in substantial directed reading, set exercises and other forms of preparation. Commitment to substantial independent study is also required for the preparation of assignments and research for the dissertation (the latter accompanied by 1-to-1 supervisions and group workshops). Additional career development and CPD workshops are distributed across the semesters.

    MSc students are also strongly encouraged to attend research seminar series organised by the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy and the Division of History, Heritage, and Politics, usually fortnightly during semester time. Here you will mix with PhD students and academics and become part of our vibrant research culture.

  • Course director
  • Key staff

    You will be taught by academic staff at the forefront of heritage research, nationally and internationally. Two of our core heritage teaching team (Foster and Morgan) also have extensive professional experience working in the heritage and museum sectors, and you will also have guest lectures from heritage professionals.

    Key staff in the teaching team for the MSc Heritage include:

    Dr Chiara Bonacchi is Lecturer in Heritage and leads on Digital Heritage at the University of Stirling. She specialises on the study of public perceptions and experiences of the past online and offline, the political use of the past, digital cultural engagement, and data science approaches to heritage. Chiara has designed and coordinated a high-profile and award-winning portfolio of collaborative research projects in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. She has acted as advisor for a range of arts and culture organisations and funding bodies internationally, including the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council England.

    Dr Sally Foster is Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Conservation. An interdisciplinary scholar whose research straddles heritage and museums, archaeology, history and art history, Sally is particularly interested in past and contemporary understandings of authenticity, value and significance to inform present and future practice. Materiality, biography and landscape are dominant themes in her research, with issues often explored through the lens of replicas, carved stones, the early church, and early medieval Scotland. Formerly a Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments at what is now Historic Environment Scotland, Sally has a close working relationship with many heritage and museum bodies and has a number of advisory / directorial roles on national heritage committees, learned societies and independent museums. 

    Dr Qian Gao is a postdoctoral research fellow in heritage. Qian specialises in Asian heritage, with a particular interest in comparative studies between the Eastern and Western concepts and methods in heritage practices, as well as interdisciplinary approaches in heritage study crosscutting sciences and humanities. Her research mainly focuses on the interaction between heritage, tourism, conservation, digitalisation and climate change, and the impact of such interplay on values and authenticity in relation to heritage. She is currently an Anniversary Research Fellow and involved in international collaborative projects on heritage conservation with Scottish and Chinese institutions.

    Professor Siân Jones is Professor of Environmental History and Heritage and Head of Heritage. Siân is an interdisciplinary scholar cross-cutting archaeology, social anthropology and history, with a particular focus on heritage studies. She specialises in: heritage, identity politics, memory and place; the biography of monuments and landscapes; heritage management and conservation practice, including authenticity, intangible significance, and social and communal values. Siân is currently the Director for the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy and Co-Director of the Scottish Graduate School in the Arts and Humanities’ Heritage Hub. She works closely with a wide range of heritage organisations and a number of advisory / Directorial roles on national committees.

    Dr Jennie Morgan is Lecturer Heritage and MSc Heritage Programme Director. Trained as a Social Anthropologist, Jennie is an interdisciplinary scholar interested in contemporary museum theory and practice within the field of critical heritage studies. Jennie also holds specialisms in ethnographic methods (including visual and sensory); collecting and collections; banal heritage; applied research and theoretical dialogue; and museum-community relationships. From undertaking fieldwork in different museums, and having worked as a Curator of Pictorial Collections in New Zealand, Jennie maintains links with national and international heritage organisations. She sits on the editorial board for Anthropology in Action and is a member of various professional associations.

    Dr Phil Slavin, Associate Professor of Environmental History.

    Professor Ian Simpson, Professor of Environmental Sciences.

  • Fees and costs
    Home/EU students £7,000
    Overseas (non-EU) students £16,950

    Scottish/EU students

    Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

    If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    If you are not studying full time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate it was set in your year of entry.

    For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

    Tuition fee loans

    Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £10,000 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs. EU students can also apply for tuition fee support, but may not be eligible to receive funding for living costs.

    English students can apply for a loan of up to £10,906 per year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

    Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £17,000 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

    Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

    Overseas (non-EU) students

    Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

    If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    If you are not studying full time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate it was set in your year of entry.

    For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

    Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Scholarships and funding
    University of Stirling Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

    The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Masters course, or £1,000 for part-time study. Find out more about the Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

    Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

    These scholarships are for candidates from developing Commonwealth countries, looking to study selected postgraduate Masters courses. Find out if you could be eligible for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

    Other sources of funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

We aim to produce graduates who will be future leaders and innovators in the heritage sector, contributing to the societal relevance and resilience of heritage. Join us and you could become one of them!

Successful graduation from the MSc Heritage will prepare you for a wide range of roles in the heritage and related sectors. Future career paths might include: heritage manager; heritage interpreter; heritage education officer; collections manager; various heritage tourism roles; heritage protection; heritage curator; outreach and public engagement roles; marketing officer and heritage researcher, to name just a few. The diverse range of advanced transferrable skills acquired through the MSc Heritage can also support career development in related sectors, such as museums, arts management and creative industries.

You can find out more about a career in the heritage sector by using the following resources:

  • Employability skills

    The programme offers a strong employability and skills experience to help you maximise your time at university and develop the graduate attributes employers look for. This is embedded in your core and option modules through guest industry speakers, fieldtrips taking your learning beyond the classroom into natural and cultural heritage environments, and a range of assessments including those that mirror the world of work. There is plenty of opportunity for networking and building your contacts in the heritage sector. Students are encouraged to attend the Centre for Environment, Heritage, and Policy seminar series which showcases cutting edge research from academics and industry speakers.

    With staff support, students have the opportunity to organise a half-day conference with invited industry speakers on current issues in the heritage sector. The dissertation project offers a ‘directed’ route where the student works with an outside partner on an applied project. The Faculty of Arts and Humanities has a dedicated Employability and Skills Officer. Through these opportunities, and more, you will develop a range of graduate attributes in critical and reflective thinking; professionalism, adaptability, and resilience; advanced interpersonal, teamwork and communication skills; a mature understanding of diverse identities and values; social, cultural, and environmental awareness; and the ability to enter the heritage sector as an active citizen with skills in ethical judgement.

    On successful completion of this programme, you will have developed the following graduate attributes:

    1. Intellectual excellence in a specialised heritage pathway
    2. Critical, creative and reflective thinking
    3. Substantial autonomy and responsibility
    4. Professionalism, adaptability and resilience
    5. Advanced interpersonal, teamwork and communication skills
    6. Inclusivity, tolerance and mature understanding of diverse identities and values
    7. Active citizenship and ethical judgement
    8. Social, cultural and environmental awareness
  • Companies we work with

    Delivery of this programme emphasises practical experience and input from sector professionals, including fieldtrips and guest speakers. We draw on our heritage sector partnerships in the delivery of this programme, including Historic Environment Scotland and the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City, Beijing. You will also benefit from our extensive relationships with other organisations in the heritage sector, such as The National Trust for Scotland, Archaeology Scotland, National Museums Scotland, and The British Museum.

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