School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MA Archival Practice

The MA Archival Practice programme is taught in partnership with archival professionals from The Box, Plymouth. It will give you practical experience of the archive: through work-based learning in local archives, ranging from manuscripts to film, sound and digital archives, you will explore current and practical issues such as fund-raising, the varied needs of users, and how to communicate through outreach and marketing.

This programme is also available to study part-time.

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Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of up to £10,280 towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Careers with this subject

The MA Archival Practice is designed to prepare you for a range of archive and related jobs, including posts with local government, national archives, museums, universities, businesses and charities.

Key features

  • Benefit from a programme taught in partnership with archive specialists from Plymouth City Council's Museums and Galleries Archives.
  • Develop links with local record offices and other archives – work-based learning is a key feature of the MA.
  • Meet practical and current needs (fund-raising, employment law, archival and digital skills) for a range of employment options in the archive and heritage sector with our range of core and optional modules.
  • The MA is designed to be a professional qualification and is aligned to the Archives and Records Association’s new competencies.
  • Prepare yourself for a range of archive and related jobs, including posts with local government, national archives, museums, universities, businesses and charities.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • You can study MA Archival Practice full time over one year, or part time over two years. 

    Your studies will consist of six modules, of which five are core modules: The Management of Archives; Audiences and Users in Archives; Placement; Business of Archives; Dissertation 

    You’ll supplement these with an optional module where you select the areas of archival practice that you interest you from a range of options including Palaeography; Display and Interpretation; Sound and Vision.

    Core modules:

    • ARCHI700 The Management of Archives
    • ARCHI701 Audiences and Users in Archives
    • ARCHI702 Placement
    • ARCHI703 Business of Archives
    • ARCHI704 Dissertation in Archival Practice

    Optional modules:

    • ARCHI705 Palaeography
    • ARCHI706 Sound and Vision
    • ARCHI707 Display and Interpretation

    Continual Professional Development


    ARCHI703 Business of Archives can be taken separately as either a credit-rated and non-credit rated module, by professionals or para-professionals wishing to enhance their competencies in archives and records.

    Pre-programme placement

    You will need to undertake a period (minimum 30 days / 120 hours) of paid or voluntary employment in an archive or records service, or have experience in a post where archive or record management is a substantial responsibility, prior to starting the programme. We are very happy to help with finding a suitable pre-programme placement. If you would like to discuss options please contact Rebecca.Wickes@plymouth.gov.uk or Anne.Morgan@plymouth.gov.uk.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 or first class BA (Hons) degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification) and a period (minimum 30 days / 120 hours) of paid or voluntary employment in an archive or records service, or experience in a post where archive or record management is a substantial responsibility. Applicants meeting these criteria are interviewed by a practising member of the profession in the selection process.

We are very happy to help with finding a suitable pre-programme placement. If you would like to discuss options or if you have any questions about the programme or the admissions process, please contact rebecca.emmett@plymouth.ac.uk.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018
Home/EU £7,500
International £13,250
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School
Part time (International) Check with School
Full time fees shown are per annum. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

You may be eligible for a discount of £2,000. Please contact the programme lead, Dr Rebecca Emmett, for details.

A 10% alumni discretionary award is available if you are: a graduate of Plymouth University, enrolled on a full-time or part-time taught programme on which a postgraduate fee is charged and no student loan is available, if you are self-funded, or if you are part funded/sponsored the discount will apply to the self-funded element of the tuition fee only. Find out more about funding options for postgraduates.   

How to apply

Applying for postgraduate taught study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Postgraduate Admissions and Enquiries team are on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

If you would like any further information please contact the Postgraduate and Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858

Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Successful applicants will be sent details about the interview process.

If you have questions about the programme or the admissions process, please contact Dr Rebecca Emmett.

Applying for postgraduate research study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. The Doctoral College are available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees. If  you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by Plymouth University, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk

If you would like any further information please contact the Doctoral College:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 587640

Email: doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Archival practice events

Archive taster evening

Thursday 23 November 2017, 18:30

Join industry specialists from Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives and lecturers from University of Plymouth for an evening’s insight to the brand-new MA Archival Practice, starting in September 2018.

Starting with a behind the scenes tour of the South West Film & Television Archive (SWFTA), you will gain access to some of the country’s most important media archives and meet with a Technical Officer for a live demonstration. This will be followed by an informal Q&A with refreshments at The Treasury, where you can learn more about the exciting new course and its relevance to wider industries.

To reserve your place at this exciting event please email: rebecca.emmett@plymouth.ac.uk or register your place through Eventbrite.

Hard hat tour of the box

Friday 8 December 2017, 14:00

On completion of The Box in Spring 2020, the MA Archival Practice will be based inside the new arts and heritage centre, built on the site of the former Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings.

Until then, MA Archival Practice students will have the opportunity to work with archival professionals from institutions including the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and the South West Film and Television Archive, as they prepare to move their collections into the new, purpose built central archive.

To get a sense of scale of this undertaking, prospective students will have the opportunity to join a representative of Willmott Dixson, the building contractors for The Box, as well as members of the MA Archival Practice team, for a special behind the scenes hard hat tour of construction site.

CPD module: The Business of Archives

The Business of Archives is a 30 credit CPD module which addresses the dynamic and changing position that many modern day archival professionals find themselves in within their organisations. Participants have the opportunity to work with industry professionals with wide-ranging expertise, based within Plymouth’s new heritage centre, The Box.

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of issues in the business of archives from management of resources, governance and stakeholder relations, buildings, products, people, technology, financing and budgets, to sustainability through commercial revenue. It also provides the opportunity for students to further develop key self-management skills through team work, presentation and report writing.

Overview of Module Content:

  • Strategizing
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Advocacy
  • Funding / fundraising
  • The Law and HR processes
  • Management of people: leadership and teamwork.
  • Operational management: security, premises, contract and supply
  • Risk analysis
  • Sustainability: retail and commerciality

This module is delivered through 10 three-hour sessions comprising of lectures and practitioner-led workshops. Participants are encouraged to take part in the development of funding presentations, to be delivered to peers, practitioners and stakeholders in the second half of the module.

The module is offered within Semester two, commencing at the end of January.

Module Fees: 30 credit module – £750

For further information about this module please contact rebecca.emmett@plymouth.ac.uk


Archival practice resources

The library has access to key journals in archival studies and management; and specialist texts in relation to palaeography and other topics.

This degree is run in partnership with Plymouth City Council, drawing on experts in the archives sector, and with access to archival collections and facilities at Plymouth West Devon Record Office, and audio-visual and photographic collections.

The resource and teaching space will eventually be housed in The Box, Plymouth. Currently under construction on the site of the former Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke's Church buildings, this brand new arts and heritage centre is set to open in spring 2020, right next to the main campus of the University of Plymouth.

Plymouth Borough records: Letters Patent (charter), 11 May 1554

This is the oldest original charter in the possession of the Corporation and is illuminated. Also referred to as the Queen Mary charter.

© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Plymouth Borough records: Receiver's accounts, 1486-1560

The Old Audit book, including a reference to a venison pasty recipe.

© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Plymouth: Stoke Damerel Parish, Devonport, Baptisms, 1859-1878

Showing entry for Robert Falcon Scott, baptised on 30th June 1868.

© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Henry de Tracy, Charter, c1190

This is the oldest document at PWDRO.

© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)