Cultural heritage is a key driver for helping to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; it also offers a sense of identity, helps maintain social diversity, cohesion, and intercultural dialogue, and forms part of our basic right to participate in cultural life. Its successful management plays a critical role in education, cultural protection, conflict migration and sustainable development. However, it is threatened globally by accelerated development, mega-infrastructure, mass tourism, encroachment, neglect, climate change, natural disasters and targeted destruction.
This MA will introduce you to the global issues and challenges within cultural heritage management and offer you a unique perspective from within Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be introduced to, and work within, local, regional, national and international heritage sites and organisations, many of which offer placements. A team of leading academics and practitioners, including Durham’s own UNESCO Chair in Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, will guide your learning experience.
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We offer two routes through the MA: the Cultural Heritage Research Route, which concludes with a dissertation, or the Professional Practice Route, which concludes with an analytical case study report – the professional practice project. Throughout the MA you will be encouraged to engage in individual and group learning activities, be embedded within real-life heritage management scenarios and engage with Durham’s wider academic community, including our Department of Archaeology, one of the world’s top four departments.
This module is taken with MA Museum and Artefact Studies students in Terms 1 and 3. It emphasises student-led debates exploring key issues affecting heritage and museums. Topics include defining ‘heritage’ and ‘museums’; contested histories; social, economic and cultural contexts; public engagement; ethical dilemmas; digital heritage. Students develop and challenge shared conceptual frameworks using global case-studies, gain relevant methodological skills to gather, analyse and critically evaluate data and concepts used in the discourse of cultural heritage and develop study and research skills appropriate to heritage studies, including working as reflective practitioners.
Drawing on case studies and seminars from international heritage organisations, including World Heritage Sites, you will participate in student-led seminars in which each student will develop a case study including consideration of education and outreach in cultural heritage. The module examines management of cultural heritage, including strategic planning, financial management and people, collection and site management. A project-based placement (or equivalent) provides a professional practice element.
Guided by Durham's UNESCO Chair, this module will enrich your understanding of World Heritage, threats to its preservation and the role of UNESCO and other bodies in its protection. You will gain practical experience of developing methodologies for researching, communicating and addressing these threats on our own World Heritage Site in Durham.
This module is paired with learning a language offered by Durham’s Centre for Foreign Language Study. You will also undertake independent research into a complex cultural heritage issue in a country using the language you have chosen and communicate it to the public by developing a website and supporting blog. The module thus combines the opportunity to develop both digital social media and language skills while exploring specific cultural heritage issues.
The MA concludes with a choice of modules. Students wanting to work in the profession may choose to undertake a Professional Practice Project focusing on a site or heritage organisation of their choice. Students wishing to continue to explore theoretical issues in this complex subject or plan to pursue a career in other contexts, including taking a higher level degree, may choose the Dissertation.
MA ICHM Placements
MA ICHM Dissertation and Professional Practice Projects
Many of our graduates work on heritage sites and in related organisations, as well as in allied sectors; some choose to pursue further research through PhDs.
“The ICHM MA at the Department of Archaeology, Durham University provided me with the essential knowledge, skills and contacts for a career in the heritage sector and for further academic studies.” - Dr Jamie Davies (International Engagement Manager, Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK)
“I truly believe that my MA has broadened my understanding of the general issues related to heritage, and made me realise the different and various definitions, views and perceptions that different people have regarding heritage and culture. I also think that one of the main strengths of the program was in the varied nationalities in my class.” - Ziad Siala (Office of World Heritage Sites, Libyan Department of Antiquities)
“Studying ICHM at Durham was one of the most formative and enjoyable experiences of my life. I was able to explore my interest in heritage in a supportive but challenging environment which gave me the skills and confidence I needed to start my career in the sector. I use approaches I learned on the course on a daily basis in my professional life. Durham is a great place to study heritage as it is a city rich in culture and history with a strong sense of local identity which gives context to your studies.” - Lauren Cripps (Planner, Chichester District Council)
Images from our MA ICHM fieldtrips
Students visit The Still, National Landscape Discovery Centre, Northumberland National Park
MA ICHM students studying Durham World Heritage Site
Roberta Blackman-Woods (then MP for Durham City) lecturing MA ICHM students 2013-14 cohort
MA ICHM students visiting Derwent Valley WHS
Durham MA students excavating on UNESCO sponsored project at TLK in 2020
MA ICHM students conducting UNESCO sponsored visitor survey at TLK
Another UNESCO sponsored handicraft survey in Nepal - MA student interviewing members of the Hariyali Hastkala Tharu Co-operative
UNESCO Professor Robin ConinghamDr Qian Gao
Professor Robin SkeatesDr Mark ManuelDr Mary Brooks
The International Cultural Heritage Masters programme at Durham University was a one-year intensive programme that challenged and helped develop my management, research and analytical skills. The course covered every aspect of heritage management by introducing us to the various spectres of heritage and how one can deal with them. We were also lucky to go see some of the best heritage sites in the United Kingdom and interact with the people working there.