Heritage Management

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How to Apply

This course takes a deliberately broad view of the idea of 'heritage' and of the directions in which it might lead you. The ways in which we understand and manage ‘heritage’ are changing rapidly, while the physical remains of our past – buildings, landscapes, city streets, archives, artefacts and archaeological sites – and the intangible associations of tradition, language and memory continue to shape the ways in which we live our lives.

Why study Heritage Management ?

The course offers a broad basis for developing your skills in managing heritage, whether this happens in a historic house, a museum or a community-based project. It reflects both your needs and interests and the changing nature of the sector itself, against a background of acute economic and political pressures - but also of significant opportunities.

“I want to know the relationship between this wooden object ... and where it has been. I want to be able to reach the handle of the door and turn it and feel it open. I want to be able to walk into each room where this object has lived, to feel the volume of the space, to know what pictures were on the walls, how the light fell from the windows. And I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt and thought about it – if they thought about it. I want to know what it has witnessed.”    Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance (Chatto & Windus, 2010)

The hare with amber eyes – a tiny Japanese netsuke – is part of de Waal’s personal inheritance, knotted into the threads of family and world history, but the questions he asks of it belong to us all.

We will ask these questions of historic buildings, museum collections, parks and gardens, archaeological sites, public and private archives. We will consider the ways in which these resources are managed, presented and explained, and explore these through a series of encounters with heritage practitioners and heritage places. What challenges are heritage bodies currently facing? What choices do they make in dealing with them? How will pressures on public funding for heritage in the UK – and further afield – shape our experience of visiting and working in museums and heritage sites in the future? And how will our wider understanding of heritage change as a result?

Trying to answer such questions provides a framework for practical work in the sector, underpinned by hands-on, supportive teaching. As well as thinking about heritage, we want you to become involved in a range of projects, working with our extensive range of partners, and to gain experience on the ground.

Course structure

The initial stages of the course will provide you with the framework in which you can set your independent projects, research and placements.


The course consists of the following modules:

Developing heritage thinking

This module introduces the key concepts we will use throughout the course, and provides the basis for asking how far heritage practice has kept pace with changes in heritage thinking and in society, politics and the economy. It draws on the extensive body of literature on heritage issues but, most importantly, encourages you to develop your own heritage thinking.

Policy, strategy and structures

What is the impact of heritage policy and strategy on current practice? How has this evolved over time?  How might heritage policy develop in future?

Heritage management: practice and planning 

This module focuses on major areas of current practice, taught by leading practitioners in the field.

Understanding current practice

This research module involves the application of current thinking and policy to heritage practice. It is intended to take you beneath the surface of a new gallery, a restored garden, or a period interior, and ask you to consider: why this? It will enable you to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the heritage sector really works, and the constraints it must work within.

Supported placement

This might involve work on a specific project, or a broader introduction to the work of a particular organisation. We see this as the focal point of the course, and potentially of enormous value to you and to the organisations with whom you’ll be working.

Final project or dissertation

Your final project may represent an extension of your placement work, the opportunity to complete a new project, or a more traditional, research-based dissertation.


Course assessment

You will be assessed through a mix of project work, formal essays, reports and a final Dissertation or Project. Your final project might include producing a film, developing a website, or preparing learning materials for a range of different audiences. Alternatively, a more traditional Dissertation might lead you to further research and a PhD.

This course poses challenging questions about our thinking and practice, and offers students the opportunity to explore this through a series of practical projects, working in partnership with a wide range of heritage organisations across Bath, the region, and beyond.

Teaching methods

We deliver much of the course through intensive workshops, often run by leaders in their own field in the heritage sector. These are complemented by guest lectures, offering you the chance to become involved in thinking about major heritage issues as they develop, and by the sessions which you run for the group, as you develop your own expertise.

We draw on the expertise of an extraordinary range of people, most of whom have extensive and current experience in the arts, heritage and museums. This means that our teaching reflects what is happening in the sector now, today, and anticipates what might happen tomorrow, in the future. At the same time, our practice-based teaching is underpinned by a strong theoretical framework, and by the support and mentoring which should help you to tackle the ambiguities and challenges inherent in a career in heritage, further research, or employment in related sectors.  

Application method

Application forms are available online and should be completed and returned to us either electronically or through the post. If you have any queries please contact the admissions department:

Telephone: (01225) 875624.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

For all enquiries about the course, please contact Dr Alison Hems, Course Director:

Telephone: (01225) 876363.

Entry requirements

Applicants will normally have a good first degree (2.1 or above) in any academic subject. Applicants without a first degree may be considered if they can demonstrate considerable relevant experience; they may be asked to attend an interview.

If English is not your first language then you will need to provide evidence of proficiency in written and spoken English. The English language requirements can be found here

Career opportunities

Careers in the heritage sector include roles in collections management, education and learning, exhibition planning and implementation, community engagement and outreach, and marketing and fundraising. You might also become involved in operational management, events planning, retail and visitor services. BSU graduates have gone onto work for the National Trust and English Heritage, in small voluntary-sector organisations and in larger museums and galleries. A number of them have already been promoted to more senior management roles, or have moved into managerial roles in other organisations. 

Competition for jobs is fierce and not everyone will want a career in the ‘heritage industry’. The course includes a range of generic skills and opportunities which are aimed at increasing employability for Bath Spa postgraduates in the voluntary sector, social enterprises, fundraising, and a wide range of administrative and management roles. As well as studying heritage management, you will be fostering links with external partners and with other departments across the University. These may be the connections which help lead you into other roles, including education, the cultural industries or self-employment.

The course also provides a route into further academic study. We have a growing cohort of PhD students who are exploring the relationships between heritage thinking, policy and practice, in a number of different areas of professional and political concern.

What students say...

Our graduate students have undertaken placements with national bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the National Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust, as well as with tiny volunteer organisations pioneering new work. They have worked at the Holburne Museum in Bath, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, M-Shed in Bristol and the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. They helped organise events, deliver learning programmes, and prepare interpretation strategies. They contributed to fundraising and marketing campaigns, set up databases and monitoring systems, initiated research and compiled education packs; they assessed visitor management in one the country's busiest museums and considered the complexities inherent in preserving and interpreting the national fleet of historic ships. They have been involved in transformation programmes and in preparing funding applications; in social media and re-enactment. They have met national figures in the sector, and heard first-hand from the people who shape current practice. They developed new skills and insights for themselves, and for the organisations with whom they worked.

Graduates of the course have gone onto work in a number of heritage organisations. As one of them puts it: The combination of theory and practical experience was the perfect balance and gave me a distinct advantage when applying for my current role as a Management Trainee for English Heritage.