Architectural Conservation - MSc

This is an archived course for 2021 entry
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The MSc in Architectural Conservation is a taught course aimed at professionals and academics world-wide with an interest in architectural heritage including architects, engineers, archaeologists, art historians, geographers and surveyors.


This course is fully recognised by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). The course provides both a thorough understanding of architectural heritage and the skills required to contribute to the preservation and development of historic sites. Benefiting from its location in the historic city of Canterbury, the programme combines the study of conservation theory and philosophy with an exploration of the technical aspects of repair and reconstruction. The city’s stunning cathedral provides students with an education resource, giving them the opportunity to learn from the conservation of a World Heritage Site.

Open to students and professionals with an interest in architectural heritage, the course represents an ideal gateway to a career in demanding professional fields, such as conservation-oriented architectural practice, conservation consultancy and heritage management. As the future leaders in these fields, the course’s graduates are expected to play a central role in disciplines that lie at the centre of the current economic, environmental and social agendas.

About Kent School of Architecture and Planning

Research at Kent School of Architecture and Planning achieves excellence in both the history and theory of architecture and in sustainable urban, peri-urban and environmental design. School staff have design expertise and specialist knowledge; they are at the forefront of current architectural issues, including sustainability, technology, professional practice and research. Our staff are active at academic and professional conferences, both nationally and internationally, and appear and publish in local and national media. The School promotes innovative and interdisciplinary research, emphasising sustainable design.

Much of the project work involved in the Kent School of Architecture and Planning is located on 'live' sites in the local region, using real clients and engaging challenging issues. Students in all stages of the school have been introduced to real urban and architectural design challenges in Lille, Margate, Folkestone, Dover, Rye, Chatham and, of course, Canterbury. Much of this work involves liaising with external bodies, such as architects, planners, council and development groups.

For up-to-date news, please visit our Architectural Conservation blog.

Additional costs

As part of the module AR84 - Intervention, students on the course will need to visit the project site at least two times. Travel expenses will be approximately £70.00 per student for two site visits.

Entry requirements

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You are more than your grades

For 2021, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) in architecture or a related discipline (eg, engineering, surveying, planning, geography, archaeology, art history, heritage management). Applicants may be required to attend an interview or to submit a portfolio showing aptitude for the subject and appropriate ability.

Applicants who are unable to attend an interview will be asked to send a portfolio or sample of their written work.

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

The MSc is composed of four taught modules (two modules per term full-time, one module per term part-time) and a dissertation on the topic of your own choice. 

The programme has a varied curriculum which reflects the multidisciplinary nature of conservation. The autumn term cultivates a critical understanding of historic buildings and provides an introduction to conservation philosophy and policy. The acquisition of a strong theoretical background is the basis for the study of practical techniques for the survey and preservation of architectural heritage.

Case studies and workshops carried out in collaboration with Canterbury Cathedral introduce you to the properties of historic building materials and the techniques employed in the repair of historic buildings. This aspect of the programme benefits from cutting-edge survey equipment and the use of conservation laboratories. A conservation project offers you the opportunity to design an intervention to an existing historic site in the historic centre of Canterbury. The dissertation that concludes the programme invites you to study an aspect of the conservation cycle of your choice, employing a high standard of scholarship.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme.This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Compulsory modules currently include

ARCH8410 - Structural Appraisal of Historic Buildings (30 credits)

This module explores the structural behaviour of buildings, and examines their response to environmental phenomena. It helps the students to analyse the causes and patterns of damage in a wide range of structures and cultivates a critical understanding of the techniques employed in the repair and strengthening of historic buildings. A combination of lectures and laboratory analysis will help the students to develop an advanced understanding of the properties of building materials and their decay. The module will include lectures on materials such as stone, brick, mortar, timber, iron and concrete. Three of these lectures will be delivered by the conservators of Canterbury cathedral at the Cathedral's conservation workshop. This will constitute an opportunity to observe the methods employed in the conservation of Canterbury cathedral, examining the practical application of a wide range of preservation techniques. The course’s assignment, a structural report on a historic structure in Kent will provide students with an opportunity to test the skills and knowledge gained in the lectures, articulating their findings using the relevant presentation skills.

Find out more about ARCH8410

ARCH8420 - Conservation in Action: The Ethical, Legislative and Administrative Framework (30 credits)

This module explores the policies and legislation that guide the preservation of historic sites, and the modern administrative framework of conservation. Focusing on the UK heritage protection and planning systems, the module's lectures and seminars will examine various kinds of statutory designation. The aim is to provide a thorough examination of the notions of the listed building, the scheduled archaeological site, the conservation area and the registered landscape. Particular emphasis will be put on the role of conservation in the National Planning Policy Framework and on the mechanisms through which the development of historic sites is authorised. This will involve an investigation of the challenges associated with planning permissions, and listed building consent. The module will offer the opportunity to explore the systems through which conservation is financed and managed. Guest speakers will introduce the students to the available grants that assist building conservation and area regeneration. The module will also familiarise the students with procurement strategies, as well as with conservation contracts, methods of valuation, and cost planning.

Find out more about ARCH8420

ARCH8430 - Intervention at Historic Buildings (30 credits)

This module explores the various methods of promoting beneficial change to historic buildings. A conservation project that will be supervised on a weekly basis offers the opportunity to design an intervention to a historic site. The project will not only focus on one historic building but it will offer the opportunity to investigate the role of conservation in the broader urban environment. In parallel to this project, a series of lectures will investigate various stages in the delivery of conservation projects, examining the methods of survey, appraisal, repair, strengthening, adaption, extension, and monitoring of historic buildings and surrounding urban spaces. One of these lectures will be delivered at Canterbury Cathedral, and will give students the opportunity to observe the ongoing conservation of the monument guided by one of its chief conservators. During the course, special emphasis will be put on issues related with the preservation and management of historic cities. Encouraging the students to experiment with all the phases of a conservation project, this module provides a synthesis of theory and practice, and promotes the development of a holistic approach to architectural conservation.

Find out more about ARCH8430

ARCH8440 - Conservation Principles (30 credits)

This module introduces the students to the research in architectural history and to the study of conservation philosophy that underpins past and present attitudes to architectural heritage.

The introductory lectures will provide an opportunity to investigate the development of architectural form from Antiquity to the 20th century, focusing on the European traditions. They will also introduce the students to the various approaches to the research and documentation of historic buildings. Cultivating a multifaceted understanding of architectural heritage while offering access to the relevant research methodologies, the module provides the expertise necessary to evaluate historic buildings and to decide what should and could be conserved and why. As well as an introduction to architectural history, lectures and seminars will investigate the field of conservation philosophy. This part of the module will examine the evolution of the attitudes to architectural heritage from the 19th to the 21st century. Special emphasis will be put on the theoretical problems of maintenance, restoration, and the way in which 20th-century international charters addressed these problems. Examining a wide range of case-studies, the module will also investigate various theoretical approaches to the adaptation of new buildings to the historic environment.

Find out more about ARCH8440

Compulsory modules currently include

ARCH8980 - Dissertation: MSc in Architectural Conservation (60 credits)

The dissertation will be a conservation project including fieldwork and scholarly research. It will be based on an existing historic building that will be visited during the Summer Term. Students will work in one or more groups, but each one will be asked to specify the nature of her/his contribution to the team's work from the outset. Each student will focus on one or more areas that reflect her/his background and interests. What follows is an indicative list of the areas that may be chosen and the corresponding 'dissertation product’ (in parentheses):

- Historical Research and Documentation (Survey)

- Graphic Recording and Structural Survey (Structural Report)

- Analysis and Testing of Building Materials (Structural Report)

- Conservation Theory Issues (Theoretical dissertation)

- Preparation of a Conservation Plan (Theoretical dissertation)

- Repair and Structural Intervention (Conservation Project)

- Reflection on a bid for the funding of a conservation project (Theoretical dissertation)

Find out more about ARCH8980


Teaching and assessment

Assessment is mostly through coursework, with essays, reports, projects and the dissertation.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • ensure you are equipped with academic, professional, and personal skills and qualities that enable you to make a positive contribution related to the preservation of historic buildings.
  • cultivate an appreciation of the different values that people can attach to historic buildings and places.
  • promote an awareness of traditional building crafts as a valuable cultural resource.
  • develop a thorough understanding of the processes that maintain and enhance historic places and the activities that change them.
  • develop knowledge of the theoretical, historical, and professional context of architectural conservation.
  • promote multidisciplinary collaboration and interaction with a wide range of professional bodies and individuals who have a role to play in the development of the built environment.
  • ensure graduates develop the knowledge and confidence necessary to provide informed and specialist advice and to cultivate an awareness of their responsibility as consultants in the field of architectural conservation.
  • understand the role that architectural conservation has to play as part of the modern ecological agenda.
  • encourage the observation of the historic environment as a whole and its use as an educational resource.
  • provide teaching informed by research and scholarship.
  • develop an understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research.
  • enable you to develop strategies for self-improvement and commitment to research and learning.
  • build on close ties within Europe and elsewhere, reflecting Kent’s position as the UK’s European university.
  • promote the understanding and preservation of local and national architectural heritage.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain:

  • An understanding of the legislation and policy related to the protection and conservation of historic buildings and sites at local, national, and international level.
  • Awareness of the wider context of conservation, preparing students to interact effectively with all bodies and individuals in this field.
  • A critical awareness of the social, cultural, political, aesthetic, economic, and ecological values that underpin conservation policy and practice.
  • An informed knowledge of the historic development of architectural forms, enabling to analyse historic monuments in stylistic, constructional, contextual, and cultural.
  • An understanding of research methodologies and the ability to interpret and evaluate archival material.
  • Knowledge of the documentation and recording methodologies employed to capture the significance of historic buildings and sites and assess the impact of development proposals on them.
  • An understanding of the causes and patterns of damage in a wide range of structures and an awareness of the technology employed in the repair and strengthening of historic buildings.
  • An understanding of traditional design and construction principles sufficient to undertake the restoration of a historic building in a sympathetic manner.
  • Understanding of the contractual and administrative aspects of conservation projects.

Intellectual skills

You gain the ability to:

  • Evaluate the historical and cultural meaning and significance of historic buildings and settings, as a basis of conservation strategies. 
  • Grasp the value of monuments as elements of a broader context, which may include other buildings, gardens or landscapes.
  • Analyse and evaluate the quality of design, existing and proposed, of buildings and areas, and to present findings in a way accessible to both professional and lay audiences.
  • Identify why conservation is appropriate, what should be conserved and how this might be done.
  • Assess and monitor the condition of buildings, diagnose structural defects and make proposals for their repair, maintenance, and enhancement.
  • Advise on new and developing techniques in conservation and their practical implications.
  • Question and evaluate critically past and current conservation methods and tools.
  • Interpret conservation laws and policies and to formulate conservation proposals consistent with them.

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • Ability to inspect, record, and make reports intelligible to non-specialist readers of monuments, ensembles, or sites, illustrated by graphic means such as sketches and photographs.
  • Competence in design and presentation. Ability to use visual, verbal and written communication and appropriate media to present maintenance strategies to professional and general audiences.
  • Graphic presentation skills employed in the assessment of the significance of historic buildings, their structural appraisal and the development of conservation strategies.
  • Negotiation skills and professional attitude in interacting with all groups and individuals with an interest in the historic environment.
  • Ability to promote or generate investment in the historic environment.
  • Ability to provide advice and guidance on current legislation and government policies affecting the preservation of the historic environment.
  • Research skills involving the use of a range of information sources.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • Ability to prepare and manage well-supported critical analyses based on theory and empirical evidence.
  • To exercise initiative in either carrying out or commissioning research and analysis.
  • Ability to independently define and appraise ideas and make reasoned judgements.
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate assumptions, arguments and research methodologies, to develop critiques of them and to explore alternative strategies.
  • Ability to work in multi-disciplinary groups resolving potential conflicts, and recognising when advice should be sought from experts in other fields.
  • Ability to systematically plan, carry through, and manage a project in a given time.
  • Ability to be self-critical about own work and constructive in how to address and progress it.
  • To learn to operate within a code of professional conduct, recognising responsibilities and obligations towards society, the profession and the environment.


The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £8100
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4050
  • EU part-time £6300
  • International part-time £8400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

As part of the module AR84 - Intervention, students on the course will need to visit the project site at least two times. Travel expenses will be approximately £70.00 per student for two site visits.

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Complete University Guide Research Intensity

Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Architecture and Planning was ranked 8th for research intensity and 8th for research output in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 88% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international quality.


Research areas

Research centres

KSAP incorporates the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte), which focuses on research in architectural humanities and design, the Centre for Architecture and Sustainable Environment (CASE), which promotes research in the field of sustainable architecture, and the new Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC), which researches the use of digital technologies in architecture and the built environment.


The Centre provides a focus for research in architecture in the European context. Its emphasis is on the role and contribution of humanities to architecture and urban design in the context of urban and regional regeneration, nationally and internationally.

CREAte provides a platform for evening lectures by contemporary architects and scholars; hosting debates and events that are at the heart of architectural agenda of today.

The Centre builds upon its staff specialisms, interests and skills in the following areas: regional studies, contemporary architectural and urban theory and design, architectural history and theory (ranging from antiquity to contemporary European cities), sustainability, European topographies (landscape, urban, suburban and metropolitan) etc. Staff participate in the activities of AHRA – Architecture Humanities Research Association and are internationally published authors.


The Centre promotes research in the field of sustainable environment regionally, nationally and internationally.

Its research focus encompasses different aspects and scales of the sustainable built environment from the individual building to the urban block, promoting the wider environmental agenda and keeping the School at the forefront of research and development in the field. CASE also pursues research into the historical and cultural dimension of environmental design to foster links between the sciences, arts and humanities. There is a strong interest in understanding the environmental behaviour of historic buildings and the strategies originally deployed to manage the internal environment.

The Centre has already secured funding from various sources. This includes three EPSRC projects on climate change weather data for a sustainable built environment, sustainability of airport terminal buildings and design interventions in the public realm for affecting human behaviour, and two TSB-funded projects on Building Performance Evaluation. CASE is also involved with the recent EPSRC large-scale network on Digital Economy Communities and Culture.


The Centre is the newest research centre at Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) in the application of digital technology in architecture. The focus of the Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC) will be the creative use of digital technologies to enhance design and fabrication possibilities for architecture and the built environment.

The centre will have three streams headed by members: 1) Generative design and computational creativity, 2) Digital fabrication and robotics and 3) Digital visualisation and mixed reality.

DARC will promote an innovative interdisciplinary research environment exploring intersections between architecture and digital technologies, to open up and expand the schools research agenda and funding possibilities. The new research centre will promote a fundamental shift in architecture and design thinking to develop design methods for the utilisation of computational technologies in architectural design, fabrication and assembly.

The centre is a new interdisciplinary direction for KSAP, founded on members' expertise and international research profiles to open up new avenues of research activity. The centre draws on university-wide contacts and expertise, and attracts additional expertise, knowledge and research in the field of digital architecture through existing and future collaborations, adding to its high quality research output, and looks to enhance the faculty's Digital Humanities theme, principally in the areas of Digital Creative Arts and Digital Heritage.


Our Master’s programmes have been devised to enhance your prospects in a competitive world. Professionals in the architectural, planning, environmental design and conservation fields who develop higher-level skills, accredited by relevant bodies, will find themselves well-placed to progress in their field. Our students have gone on to work for major public agencies and universities, as well as leading practitioners in the private sector.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Architecture and Planning studios include a dedicated computing suite with a range of environmental construction software, and a digital crit studio. There is a fully equipped architectural model-making workshop for constructing models and large-scale prototypes.

Professional links

The School has excellent contacts with businesses and culture in the local area, including regional organisations such as Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Kent County Council, European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE). The Sustainable Communities Plan is particularly strong in south-east England, making the region the ideal place in which to debate innovative solutions to architectural issues.

Kent also has excellent links with schools of architecture in Lille, Rome, Istanbul, Tokyo, and, in the USA, Virginia.

Academic study is complemented by a mentoring scheme organised in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and involving students in events with local practices.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Architectural Research Quarterly; The Architectural Review; Building and Environment; The Journal of Architecture; and The World of Interiors.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Apply now

This course page is for the 2021/22 academic year. Please visit the current online prospectus for a list of postgraduate courses we offer.

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