Historic Conservation

MSc or PGDip or PGCert

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

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

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

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of the Built Environment

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How do we decide which buildings and environments need preserving? How do we better understand their physical fabric and the influences on their design and construction? How will they be conserved in future, and who will pay for this to happen? Study at Oxford Brookes to develop expertise in historic conservation and discover how we can preserve, learn from, and protect sites of historic importance. 

You’ll examine the ideas, laws and policies that define current conservation, including how these have changed - and evolve over time. You’ll explore how built heritage can be conserved, adapted and developed in a variety of ways. And you’ll learn fundamental concepts and conservation techniques, taught by leading experts in the field. 

You’ll study the history of architecture and the built environment, and progress skills in researching, analysing and recording information from historic sites. 

With a broad range of guest speakers, field trips, workshops and site visits, you’ll expand your network and develop the professional skills needed to explore a variety of jobs in this sector. 

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

Arial photo of Oxford City Centre

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Study in a city steeped in architectural history

    Enrol on a course based in one of the UK’s finest historic cities, with close ties to local and national heritage organisations.

  • Attend Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford

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

  • Active conservation site visits

    Visit and survey live conservation projects taking place in the UK, gaining an insight into current practices in the field.

  • Develop historic building insights

    From knapping flint to mixing lime mortar, gain a hands-on understanding of traditional construction and repair techniques through workshops, visits and field trips.

  • A stepping stone to a rewarding career

    This course puts you at the centre of UK conservation practice. Previous alumni have gone on to work for Historic England, UNESCO, the National Trust and other leading employers.

  • Accreditation(s)

    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

Course details

Course structure

Throughout this course you’ll think critically about the role of historic conservation, asking why we do it, and how we might improve upon current practices. 

You’ll study the theory, law and history of conservation. Here you’ll gain an understanding of the cultural and political forces that have shaped the practice, and the debates that animate it today. 

You’ll gain hands-on, practical insights into building and repair techniques, helping you to understand how both traditional and modern buildings can be preserved and renewed. You’ll develop skills in analysis and recording, and learn how good design can help secure the future of historic areas. You’ll also gain a thorough understanding of conservation economics: how projects get funded, how they’re costed and appraised, and how third-party funding can be secured. 

For the full MSc award, you’ll write a dissertation on a conservation topic of your choice, using independent research and regular tutorial discussion to develop your own area of special expertise within the field. 

Tour guide with group outside the Randolph Hotel

Learning and teaching

You’ll look into the major elements of architectural history in England from the medieval period to the present. You’ll experience the extraordinary built heritage of Oxford and its environs, and examine the mechanisms by which it is currently managed. 

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.


Assessment is 100% coursework based.

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.

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 those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


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.


By the time you finish our degree in historic conservation, you’ll be well placed to explore a wide range of careers across the sector. You’ll also have developed a number of transferable skills in research, analysis, surveying and design.

Graduates of this course can explore roles such as heritage consultant, historic buildings adviser, conservation officer and project manager with employers including:

  • architectural practices, 
  • heritage consultancies,
  • planning and property consultancies,
  • national and international heritage bodies,
  • central government departments,
  • local planning authorities,
  • museums and education sites,
  • voluntary and campaign groups.

Previous graduates have found work in organisations such as the Landmark Trust, English Heritage, Historic England, UNESCO, the National Trust, the Victorian Society, and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

On completion of this degree, you may also choose to further your studies at doctorate level and work towards a PhD.

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

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).

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,300 (Masters); £8,300 (Diploma); £4,650 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£9,750 (Masters); £8,750 (Diploma); £4,875 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

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

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,750 (Masters); £8,750 (Diploma); £4,875 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400


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.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

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

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.