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Historic Conservation

MSc or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2023



Course length

Full time: Full time: MSc 12 months; PGDip 9 months

Part time: Part time: MSc 24 months; PGDip 21 months; PGCert 9 months


Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). Accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a Specialist Programme. Full RTPI accreditation is available when combined with the Postgraduate Diploma in Spatial Planning or any partially RTPI accredited UG programme such as: BA Urban Design, Development and Planning, and BSc Property Development and Planning.

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • The Royal Town Planning Institute
  • Institute of Historic Building Conservation


Gain the expertise to shape the future through the buildings and places we value from the past.

This course puts you at the centre of historic conservation practice. You’ll be introduced to fundamental concepts and techniques and taught by leading experts from across the field. 

Topics of study include:

  • History of architecture and the built environment
  • Analysis and recording of historic sites
  • Legal and policy frameworks 
  • Conservation techniques for traditional and modern structures 
  • Financial analysis.

Throughout the course you’ll be challenged to think critically and holistically and supported to develop an intelligent, professional approach. Regular field trips and hands-on workshops let you apply your learning to current practice while building your experience and networks. 

Teaching is delivered jointly by Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford, combining the internationally renowned research and teaching expertise of the two institutions. 

Arial photo of Oxford City Centre

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

The course is open to applicants who hold a 2.1 undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent).
Students come from a variety of backgrounds. Thus, applications are welcome from any academic discipline which can be applied to Historic Conservation - as well as those seeking ongoing professional development.
We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees, who can effectively portray suitable credentials, and usually have an appropriate professional background.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum academic IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

We advise applying in advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed.

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). 

Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Student visa (if applicable).

Apply now

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£8,900 (Masters); £7,900 (Diploma); £4,450 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£9,300 (Masters); £8,300 (Diploma); £4,650 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£8,900 (Masters); £7,900 (Diploma); £4,450 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,300 (Masters); £8,300 (Diploma); £4,650 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Learning and assessment

This course is offered at three levels:
The Master of Science (MSc) degree consists of:

  • 8 compulsory taught modules, including Research Methods in Design
  • Dissertation (20,000 words)

The Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) consists of 7 compulsory taught modules. 
The Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) consists of 3 compulsory taught modules. 

The MSc and PGDip can be studied full-time (1 year) or part-time (2 year).

The introductory PGCert is a 9 month, part-time course.

All core teaching is on Mondays and Tuesdays, allowing you to fit your studies around other commitments (with the exception of certain field trips).

Part-time students take the Monday modules in their first year and the Tuesday modules in their second.

Each course module addresses a different set of questions in the theory and/or practice of historic conservation.

Tour guide with group outside the Randolph Hotel

Study modules

The modules listed below are compulsory for both the MSc and PGDip. The PGCert only includes those modules marked with an *. The MSc also requires completion of the additional modules within the Final project section below. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Historic Conservation: Theory, Law and Practice* (20 credits)

What is historic conservation? How, when and where did it originate? Why do we do it, and how might we do it differently? This module examines the structure of ideas, values, principles, institutions, laws and policies upon which our current practice rests. Beginning with a historical overview that relates the emergence of the conservation agenda to developments in other fields of culture, it proceeds to analyse the dominant legal and institutional frameworks through which that agenda is pursued, primarily in the UK but also further afield.

Historical Studies I and II (40 credits)

Two linked modules taught in consecutive semesters. 

How did our present stock of historic buildings and sites come into existence? What social, political, economic and artistic factors influenced their initial construction and subsequent alteration? These are two linked modules, taught in consecutive semesters. The first module concentrates on the medieval period and provides an introduction to the evolution of the landscape and the major elements of architectural history in England up to the sixteenth century. The second module continues the narrative from the sixteenth century up to the present day.

Building Construction and Repair* (20 credits)

What are historic buildings made of, what keeps them standing, and how can their physical substance be preserved and/or renewed? This module examines the properties, decay and repair of traditional and modern materials, as well as structural principles, environmental factors and the introduction of new fabric and services into historic structures.

Historic Building Analysis and Recording (20 credits)

How can we 'read' the history of a building, and how can we best communicate our understanding by visual and written means? This is a skill-based module that helps you to analyse the special architectural and historical characteristics of a particular site, building, or group of buildings, and to develop techniques for the representation of these characteristics through archival research, measurement, drawing and recording.

Conservation Economics and Finance (10 credits)

Who pays for the conservation of the historic environment, and how do projects secure funding? This module comprises an overview of built heritage finance in the context of cultural economics, followed by a series of themed classes given by expert speakers from outside the University. Topics covered include project costing, development appraisal, third-party funding and the relevant aspects of the property market.

Design for Conservation* (20 credits)

How far, and in what ways, should an understanding of the historic environment inform current design decisions? This module enables you to analyse historic townscapes, to understand basic principles of urban design and to formulate design guidance and codes for sensitive historic areas. You will acquire skills in the critical appraisal of existing or proposed buildings, preparing design briefs for sites in historic areas and presenting design concepts.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Research Methods in Design (10 credits)

A critical overview of research methods and skills relevant to investigative work in conservation and design.

Conservation Dissertation (50 credits)

An individual research project conducted under the supervision of a member of the teaching staff, on a conservation-related topic to be agreed between you and your supervisor.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching and learning methods reflect the variety of topics and techniques associated with historic conservation. These include:

  • lectures
  • directed reading
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • practical and project work.

Most modules also include site visits and/or fieldwork. These provide you with direct experience of the practical application of conservation principles.

Field trips

There are a number of extra-curricular field trips and practical workshops. These are optional, and those attending will need to pay a supplementary fee to cover costs. See the additional costs section of this page for details.


Assessment methods used on this course

Assessment is 100% coursework based.


The School of the Built Environment has an impressive list of funders and clients covering UK and EU government, research funding councils and industry.

  • the European Commission
  • UK Government/Agencies
  • local government
  • the commercial sector.

Research areas and clusters

Infrastructure and energy continue to be a key focus as they are the essential components of a rapidly urbanising world.

 Research groups:

We have links with universities worldwide so there are exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and study overseas.

After you graduate

Career prospects

The course provides an excellent grounding for those wishing to pursue a career in the conservation sector. Our tutors have wide experience in the field, and the broad variety of visiting speakers from national and local government, private practice, the voluntary sector, the law and academia add greatly to this range. We have excellent links with heritage organisations across the country, giving you opportunities for placements and other work experience. Graduates have gone on to work in many different roles across the sector, including:

  • central government bodies, eg English Heritage and Historic England
  • local government roles, eg conservation and design officer
  • charitable organisations, eg the National Trust and the Landmark Trust
  • campaign groups, eg Victorian Society and SAVE Britain's Heritage
  • private consultancies, eg CgMs and Alan Baxter & Associates.

Programme Changes:

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.