Historic Building Conservation
Learn to proficiently maintain and manage the conservation of our historical sites
Why take this course?
If you have a passion and enthusiasm for the heritage of historic buildings and structures, and wish to specialise in this area, this course is ideal.
You can explore why it is important to retain such heritage sites, the financial constraints and consequences of doing so, the methods available to restore them and how heritage can be managed to best effect.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Get involved with some of our regional regeneration projects to test and develop your ideas
- Undertake studio-based design projects and engage with our other collaborative projects with academic institutions in a range of countries including Turkey, Spain and Australia
- Have the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ by working on real-life contracts through our Projects Office
What opportunities might it lead to?
The course is also professionally accredited and follows the education guidelines of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS ), UNESCO and Council of Europe requirements. It is recognised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and covers its areas of competence. It is also accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and prepares architects and surveyors to accreditation standards (AABC and RICS Building Conservation Forum), facilitating work on English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund-funded projects. Students can also apply for full IHBC membership after two years of professional experience, as opposed to five years.
Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:
- conservation work
- regeneration projects
- heritage management
I have a love for historic buildings and history in general. Portsmouth and England have a wealth of historic buildings for me to visit and study.
Douglas Larsen, MSc Historic Building Conservation student 2013
- 1 year full time, 2 years part time
- A minimum of a second-class honours degree in a relevant subject such as Architecture, Civil Engineering, Building and Surveying, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18: full time: £5,200, part time: £1,730 in year 1 and £3,470* in year 2.
2017/18: full time: £12,600, part time: £4,200 in year 1 and £8,400* in year 2.
* Fees are subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- Portsmouth School of Architecture
- Programme specification
Structure & Teaching
This course uses the experience and skills of teaching staff with a proven track record in interior historic building and conservation studies, practice and research. You will also benefit from an inter-disciplinary learning environment where more than 100 postgraduate students in architecture, interior design, urban design, sustainable architecture and historic building conservation can meet and work.
Here are the units you will study:
- Practice: In this unit you will focus mainly on the practical aspects of the conservation, with an emphasis on raising awareness in conservation skills. It is delivered in collaboration with regional, national and internationals bodies specialising in conservation and is mainly fieldwork based, enabling you to analyse practical aspects and skills in different situations. Assessment is by means of submission of a number of different projects and reports related to practice.
- Theory: You will learn the theoretical aspects of historic building conservation, such as historical aspects related to built heritage and relevant legislative frameworks to ensure their protection for future generations. You will look at the international historic preservation principles based on UNESCO/ICOMOS criteria. It is mainly classroom based with occasional field visits, and the assessment is by means of coursework.
- Research Methods and Research Proposal: In this unit you will develop research skills, which will aid you throughout your course and particularly in producing your thesis. You will be asked to establish a critical position within an Outline Research Proposal. You will develop techniques, which will allow you to engage proactively within your area of study. You will be encouraged to explore methods of investigation that are responsive to, as well as inquisitive of, the conditions presented and which therefore speculate around possible critical scenarios. Implicit within these explorations is the need to investigate diverse means of representation and depiction through a variety of possible media and discourse.
- Integration: This unit allows you to work in a multi-disciplinary context through groups within your own subject area and across the areas of interior design, urban design, sustainable architecture and historic building conservation, as well as explore the interrelationships of all disciplines. You will need to work collectively on given projects or problems related to staff run studios, which explore a range of given themes. You will be introduced to these themes at the start of the course and connect to research areas within the School. There will be a group-based activity that is either subject specific or spans different areas of the disciplines as agreed by tutors.
- Work-Based Learning: This unit gives you the opportunity to replace a 30-credit core unit with a work-based version of that unit. Not all units can be replaced and you will need to discuss the appropriateness of a unit with tutors. Work-based learning requires you to engage in critical and reflective learning in the workplace. This will be developed through a learning contract, negotiated by you, your employer and School. The work undertaken in practice will be appraised through critical reflective writing that engages with the practice of the particular subject discipline and this will form the assessment artefacts.
- Thesis: Your thesis is a substantial research-based project that enables you to carry out an in-depth investigation into a subject area of personal interest, which is related to or developed from a theme studied during the course. The proposed research theme should have a clearly defined focus to allow for in-depth theoretical, contextual and visual research. An initial seminar programme will help you develop your research proposal, define a research question and locate suitable primary and secondary sources. You will be allocated an appropriate supervisor on the basis of this proposal, who will work with you toward the final submission. This part of the project is self-managed, with tutorial guidance provided by the allocated supervisor and additional referencing and research support provided by the faculty librarian.
Teaching and Assessment
This course is lecture and studio-based, culminating in a research-based thesis project. It will involve case study investigations, group work, discussion and planning of conservation environments, as well as independent study to develop design or research-based responses to conservation problems.
How are you assessed?
Design assessment is through studio review and taught courses are assessed by various forms of evidence-based conservation design decisions and proposals. You will also carry out an in-depth research project into an area of your choice.
Dr Karen Fielder
The learning environment here is creative, dynamic and interdisciplinary, and encourages you to explore your own aspirations. The region around the University has a wonderfully diverse built heritage which offers a wealth of opportunities for engaging with live conservation projects alongside passionate and enthusiastic professionals and craftspeople.
Facilities & Features
Located in the historic city of Portsmouth and the Solent region, this course provides opportunities for you to specialise in a discipline where the demand for skilled professionals is increasing. We have close links with Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals, and the Bursledon Conservation Centre, as well as conservation organisations and universities in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe, allowing for stimulating visits and case study material.
You’ll have access to superb facilities to help prepare you for professional practice. Our dynamic studios house advanced architectural computer facilities, with Macs and PCs offering the latest design software. Other facilities include:
- CNC milling machine for building three-dimensional models
- laser cutting machines which automate the production of complex models
- life drawing studios and a virtual reality suite
- professional printers as well as extensive computing, film and video facilities
Offering a range of consultancy services to clients, the Project Office gives you access to real clients and live projects. This is a great means to gain real hands-on experience in order to support your design development and professional capacity. In the past we have overseen or managed major building or design works in the city including the Hilsea Lido, the Isle of Wight Zoo, the University’s own 3rd Space and the Bursledon Brickworks.
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.
Visits and field trips really brought the history of the built environment to life.
Michael Underwood, MSc Historic Building Conservation student
Budgeting for your studies
There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.
Other costs to consider
There are costs relating to the purchase of drawing equipment, model making, stationery, reprographic requirements and the production of a portfolio. This may be in the region of £100 - £300 each year. We support digital review of some project assessment work to reduce costs.
If you choose to complete a project not supported by existing University resources, you may wish to purchase extra materials or software. These costs will depend on the nature of the project.
For optional study trips you will be expected to pay full costs. Optional study trips to Europe will cost in the region of £300 - £500.
Careers & Opportunities
On completing this course, you will be equipped with specialist skills to find careers within the architectural and planning professions. You will obtain professional, legal, craft, management and administration skills relevant to historic building conservation. In addition, you’ll develop historical and technical knowledge, and understand research methodologies applicable to conservation.
The creative skills, professional competencies and expansive learning environment that we provide has also led graduates into a range of careers in marketing, advertising, journalism, virtual design and modelling through to people-centred careers such as project management.
Alternatively, you can choose to continue your studies to PhD level.
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.
We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.
In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.
Benefits of Postgraduate Study
Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.
- Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
- Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
- Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
- Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
- If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.
Postgraduate Information Days
Our Postgraduate Information Days give you the opportunity to visit the University and meet with course leaders. You can also go to a range of academic and support-based talks to get the information you need to consider when studying at postgraduate level with us.
Our Postgraduate Information Days for 2017 entry are:
- Wednesday 1 March 2017, 1pm - 5pm
- Wednesday 26 April 2017, 1pm - 5pm
Other opportunities to visit
Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University. You can visit Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4pm.
We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.
If you are unable to visit us, contact the admissions team – see the 'Key Facts' section above for contact details.
Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.
Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.