School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MA Heritage Theory and Practice

MA Heritage Theory and Practice is intended for graduates and professionals focused on a career in heritage. You will explore current principles and practices in the management and curation of heritage sites and museums including interpretation and community engagement.

You will also engage with concepts and approaches in contemporary heritage theory and, importantly, how theory can relate to practice. During the degree, you will take part in ‘live’ projects with one of our heritage partners and be eligible for a heritage work placement.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £11,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Join us in September or January

This programme offers you the option to start your studies in either September 2020 or January 2021

Alumni loyalty reward for postgraduate study

  • A 20% discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • Or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.

For further details and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.

Heritage and museum sector discount

We are pleased to offer a 10% discount on home fees to people currently working in the heritage/museum sector (including volunteers) to study on our MA Heritage Theory and Practice programme.*

*Only one discount may be applied against fees for this programme.

Careers with this subject

Graduate destinations for our recent MA students include funded PhDs, PGCE teacher training, NHS graduate management training, public sector heritage business management, and account executive with an image library. Postgraduate study opens up many other careers in museums, heritage, archives and records.

Where could your history degree take you?

Key features

  • Study Heritage at Plymouth and work on ‘live’ projects with one of our heritage partners including the National Trust, Powderham Castle, The Box, The Elizabethan House.
  • Explore the connections between theory and practice in contemporary issues such as equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Be part of the team of Cornerstone Praxis, the University of Plymouth’s highly successful heritage engagement unit.
  • Be taught by world leading academic experts and heritage professionals.
  • Be part of a community of heritage focused staff and students through Cornerstone Heritage, the University of Plymouth’s interdisciplinary research centre for cultural heritage.
  • Explore the emerging field of digital heritage, producing your own online content for our 'Digital History Project'.
  • Showcase your research and professional practice skills with the option of a dissertation directly linked to the development of one our partner heritage sites or museums.
  • Participate in a work placement with one of our national and regional heritage organisations.
  • MA Heritage Theory and Practice is designed for a range of applicants including recent graduates and those with a professional background in heritage looking for a postgraduate qualification as part of their professional development.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • You can study MA Heritage Theory and Practice full time over one year or part time split across two years. 

    Your studies consist of four modules: Critical Heritage, Heritage Practice, Public History and Heritage, and, Display and Interpretation.

    The programme culminates in an independently researched MA dissertation. 

    Core modules
    • MAHI701 Public History

      This work-facing module examines the theory and practice of how the past is presented to public audiences. Students will explore, through site-based case studies and written projects, the creation, nature, use and understanding of various forms of public history, for example those associated with heritage and museums, oral history, film and 'popular' historical writing.

    • MAHI702 MA History Dissertation

      In this module students complete a dissertation on an aspect of history of their own choosing. The topic is negotiated between students and teaching staff, who provide tutorial support and advice about all aspects of the project from initiation to completion.

    • MAHI735 Critical Heritage

      This module examines contemporary concepts, approaches and ideas in the field of Heritage Studies and how they relate to the discipline of History and to heritage practice. It challenges students to connect a range of ideas, ideologies and perspectives to our understanding and engagement with the work of heritage sites, museums and organisations.

    • MAHI736 Heritage Practice

      This module examines contemporary practices in the heritage sector. It challenges students to connect practical methods and procedures in heritage interpretation, curation, heritage asset management, visitor experience and community engagement.to contemporary themes, ideas and perspectives through 'live' project work.

    • MAHI737 Display and Interpretation

      This module develops a critical understanding of how heritage organisations address their public role through displays and interpretation opportunities. Students will gain understanding about audiences and audience needs and perspectives and develop hands-on experience of a range of contemporary museum, historic site and archive museum practices including curating an exhibition, development of partnerships and collaborations, education, outreach and learning objectives, management and care of assets within an exhibition, marketing, evaluation and capturing data from audiences to support sustainability and legacy.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA Heritage Theory and Practice Programme Specification 6940

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

An honours degree in heritage, history or a related subject, or a professional qualification recognised as being equivalent to a degree. 

Or an ordinary degree, foundation degree, higher national diploma or university diploma, accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field. References from previous university, employer or similar.

We are happy to chat to prospective applicants about their qualifications and suitability for this programme – so please do get in touch. 

If you possess overseas qualifications you can check their comparability with the UK equivalent through UK NARIC, who provide an advisory service. International students: IELTS score of 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element).

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home £7,800 £8,100
International £14,800 £15,200
Part time (Home) £450 £450
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

The University applies a discretionary alumnus reward where alumni meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • A 20 per cent discount on home tuition fees.
  • Or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.
  • A 10 per cent alumni discount is available on the following programmes: MSc Advanced Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology, MSc/PgDip Psychology and MSc Occupational Therapy.

For further details, programme exclusions and contact information, please see our alumnus discount policy.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

Heritage and museum sector discount

We are pleased to offer a 10% discount on home fees to people currently working in the heritage/museum sector (including volunteers) to study on our MA Heritage Theory and Practice programme.*

*Only one discount may be applied against fees for this programme.

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

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.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is 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 would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Introduction to the programme by Professor Daniel Maudlin

Our aim is to bring together the latest ideas in heritage theory with the most recent contemporary practices in heritage management, to give you the best possible grounding for a career in professional heritage.

Across the programme, you will study the practicalities of archive and on-site research, exhibition curation and conservation management planning.

Watch the video to discover more about the programme.

Cornerstone Heritage

The University of Plymouth's research centre in cultural heritage – how we live with, use and understand the past through things, spaces, traditions and memory. 

Our researchers exchange ideas and form new partnerships across the fields of heritage studies, art history, history, architecture, business, tourism, geography, 3D and graphic design, and digital technologies. 

'Live Projects' are at the heart of Cornerstone's activities. Live Projects engage with community groups and heritage organisations in the co-production of research-led heritage initiatives.

Find out more about Cornerstone Heritage

Powderham archives research

Professor James Daybell talks about leading a research project at Powderham Castle studying the architectural history and the Courtenay family. The project is a collaboration between the University of Plymouth and the University of Pennsylvania bringing together historians, architectural historians, specialists and people with an interest in historical preservation.

Powderham’s LGBT history

Dr Alan Butler explains his research into LGBT heritage at Powderham castle.

"It’s so very exciting to find archival materials that apply to LGBT people in the past."

Cornerstone Praxis

Cornerstone Praxis is a 'praxis' or research-in-practice unit based at the University of Plymouth. 

From archival research and site and collections investigations to the development of interpretation pathways from exhibitions, events and trails to graphic design, locative apps, virtual and augmented reality immersive experiences, we help to deliver historical research, heritage management and interpretation in line with contemporary trends and the ever-changing requirements of the visitor. We aim to work with partners who are keen to support our students, putting real-world experience at the heart of the student experience.

Discover Cornerstone Praxis

Buildings research at Powderham

Professor Daniel Maudlin takes you on a short tour around the history of Powderham Castle. The story of the house that turned three times and the rise of a family from knight to earl in five Williams. 

This short film shares some of the discoveries made by staff and students by the University of Plymouth and the University of Pennsylvania.

The American Gardens

"Grand gardens have existed as long as grand houses, but in the Georgian period this was something quite new."

Dr Diana Walters explores the stories behind Powerdam Castle’s American Garden.


Students on the Public History module go digital during lockdown

Featured module: Heritage Practice

Supported by Cornerstone Praxis, 'heritage practice' is a unique practice-based module in which for the whole module you will work with a heritage organisation in the development and delivery of new heritage activities for a specific site. Combining original research with professional skills such as audience research, assessments of significance, stakeholder analysis or producing interpretation content for new platforms your coursework will directly contribute to the work of a major historic site.

The Box, image courtesy of Plymouth City Council

Visiting specialists

On site and in seminars you will also work with a wide range of heritage professionals who will join us to share their experience and help you to gain a real understanding of current practices, approaches and values in the professional world of museums, sites and heritage organisations. 

Through our partnerships we are able to draw on curators, property mangers, community engagement officers and others from, for example The Box, Plymouth's new museum, gallery and archives, the newly restored and re-imagined Elizabethan House, Powderham Castle, Dartmoor National Park and the National Trust.

<p>Lock at Powderham Castle (square)</p>
<p>Table and chairs at Powderham Castle (square)</p>
<p>Heritage at Powderham Castle&nbsp; (square)</p>
<p>Lock at Powderham Castle (square)</p>

The Box: Plymouth's heritage hub

MA Heritage Theory and Practice students will be able to benefit from the new flagship heritage centre in Plymouth called 'The Box'. This will bring together the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, South West Film and Television Archive and South West Image Bank in one exciting heritage hub.

<p>The Box -&nbsp;image courtesy of Plymouth City Council</p>
<p>The Box - image courtesy of Plymouth City Council<br></p>

MA Heritage Theory and Practice staff