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Centre for Sustainable Heritage (CSH)

MRes Heritage Science

Overview

Our MRes Heritage Science (soon to be renamed to MRes Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology - SEAHA) is an interdisciplinary programme that takes an innovative approach to the teaching of 'hard' science subjects by taking cultural heritage as its context. Our aim is to develop a holistic understanding of state-of-the-art science among researchers and practitioners in order to develop you as science leaders of the future.

Heritage science delivers intellectual access to cultural heritage by enhancing knowledge of conservation, interpretation, research and management. Offering ample opportunities to question and reflect on research in the light of broader societal and environmental issues. By engaging in interdisciplinary discourse with other researchers, and with a wider diverse public, you will gain the ability to engage with policy-makers.

Heritage science research questions span the sciences and the arts, therefore our programme has been designed to be interdisciplinary. In order to support the wide variety of activities that relate to cultural heritage – conservation, access, research, interpretation and management – our programme draws on a palette of knowledge, from fundamental sciences (chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology) to arts and humanities (conservation, philosophy, ethics, history and art history), including economics, sociology, computer sciences and engineering.

For further information please see the MRes SEAHA Student Handbook.

Centre for Sustainable Heritage homepage

Programme objectives

Our programme will challenge you to develop a broad spectrum of knowledge and interpersonal skills: team-working, communication, leadership, management and negotiation. Students from widely different disciplinary backgrounds provide challenging and enriching learning experiences. Using innovative case-study learning methods, you will engage with issues that include:

  • development of holistic knowledge and understanding of heritage materials, objects, collections, buildings, sites, their environment, as well as techniques of their study taking the object, building or site in the context of its historical, artistic, material, social and cultural environment;
  • formation of informed scientific opinions based on knowledge from fields feeding into heritage science;
  • development of the sensitivity to discuss and transfer knowledge to others at different levels;
  • understanding the social, cultural and economic significance of heritage and using this framework to interpret scientific results;
  • policy and legal frameworks related to cultural heritage.

Our programme is at the forefront of issues that are currently the focus of heritage research, such as the impact of climate change, increased tourism, increased energy and water demand, sustainable development, helping you to understand and reflect upon them.

Our MRes Heritage Science will provide you with access to renowned interdisciplinary teachers, including internationally leading professionals. You will have access to a state-of-the-art heritage science laboratory, equipped with benchtop and portable instrumentation for environmental and material studies.

Real-life case studies will enable you to discuss and reflect on complex issues of heritage science and related fields and leading heritage stakeholders will engage you in challenging debates on the wider value of your research.

A fully funded, one-week 'living laboratory' experience will enable you to develop your research idea in the field by interacting with heritage owners, managers, and visitors.

Our programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, problem-solving classes, tutorials, laboratory and field work, as well as an independent project work.

You will be required to present your research in the form of a poster and a scientific paper to fellow colleagues, scientists and professionals, and to present a report on your fieldwork. You will be challenged to place your research in the wider context of policy frameworks, thus demonstrating your ability to answer real heritage research questions at different levels of complexity.

Our programme also provides opportunities for project placements with leading heritage organisations.

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Structure

The programme is an executive-style taught course. MRes and PgC students undertake the taught and transferrable skills elements. These consist of two compulsory taught modules. MRes students also take two mini-research project modules and complete the master's dissertation. The programme can be taken full time over one year or part time, normally over two years.

Heritage Science MRes programme structure

The programme has a pronounced research and transferrable skills component, with research being spread over two mini-research projects (30/120 credits each) and the Heritage Science Main Project or Dissertation (60/120 credits).

Part time students complete modules 1 and 3 in their first year and modules 2 and 4 in their second year in order to enable part-time students to obtain good theoretical grounding in heritage science during their first year.

Course modules

BENVGHR1 Heritage Science in Context
Credits: 30
Assessment: Written assignment (5,000 words) Term 1

BENVGHR2 Mini-research Project 1 - Fundamentals of Heritage Science
Credits: 30
Assessment: 25% research (laboratory) logbook; 75% research report (3,000 words) Term 1

BENVGHR3 Transferrable Skills in Heritage Research
Credits: 30
Assessment: 25% poster presentation; 75% written essay (3,000 words) Term 2

BENVGHR4 Mini-research project 2 - Applied Heritage Science: Field Project
Credits: 30
Assessment: Field project report (5,000 words) Term 2

BENVGHR5 Main Project - Heritage Science Master's Dissertation
Credits: 60
Assessment: 50% master's dissertation (10,000-12,000 words); 50% oral examination (45 min) Term 3 and summer vacation

Content

Course Modules

BENVGHR1 Heritage Science in Context is a taught module that aims to provide an introduction into the many aspects of heritage science. At the end of the module, you will be able to:

  • use frameworks of heritage values to interpret scientific results;
  • understand heritage typologies;
  • recognise value typologies;
  • appreciate aspects of material change;
  • understand issues related to prevention, intervention and risk management;
  • strategically evaluate the impact that heritage research can have on wider societal and environmental issues.

BENVGHR2 Mini-research Project 1 - Fundamentals of Heritage Science aims to provide a solid foundation for scientific methods. You will develop excellent knowledge and understanding of heritage materials and their interdependences, their environment and techniques of their study, taking the object of study in the context of its historical, artistic, material, social, technological and cultural environments. The following aspects will be discussed and researched:

  • fundamental principles of measurement statistics and data evaluation;
  • exogenous and endogenous elements of change;
  • measurement, assessment and modelling of the environment;
  • digitisation and preservation of digitally born information.

BENVGHR3 Transferrable Skills in Heritage Research provides the essential transferrable skills for researchers working in interdisciplinary environments. This module will enable you to:

  • interpret scientific results in wider contexts to maximise the impact of research;
  • understand principles of management of the heritage environment;
  • discuss legal and policy frameworks affecting cultural heritage;
  • understand processes of knowledge generation and protection;
  • present scientific work to various types of audiences.

BENVGHR4 Mini-research Project 2 - Applied Heritage Science: Field Project involves a group research project, where team working and communication skills are essential for successful delivery. In the frame of this mini-research project, a one-week 'living laboratory' will be organised. You will develop a strong sense of leadership, teamworking, negotiation and management and will develop skills in problem-solving and communication to various audiences, including heritage managers. This module will enable you to:

  • understand the principles of management of scientific and research projects;
  • develop understanding of teamworking, time and resource management;
  • apply heritage science to real-life problems in situ;
  • use portable, non-destructive techniques and interpret complex data on real objects.

BENVGHR5 Main Project - Heritage Science Masters Dissertation requires you to define the topic of your master's dissertation under the guidance of the programme director and to build on work developed in Mini-research Project 1 and Mini-research Project 2. You will be encouraged to undertake a placement in a heritage institution, where research material can be collected; however, since this material can be gathered in other ways, the placement is not compulsory. This module will enable you to:

  • plan, carry out, deliver and interpret heritage scientific research on the basis of scientific evidence and literature research;
  • confidently carry out laboratory, desktop and field research and apply scientific research to answer heritage research questions;
  • discuss research results and set them into wider contexts and policy frameworks;
  • discuss application of scientific research to heritage interpretation, management, conservation or access.

Staff

The MRes Heritage Science programme draws upon the full range of expertise offered by the Bartlett Centre for Sustainable Heritage's extensive team of professors and lecturers working in the field.

Between them, these staff represent some of the world's most respected experts in the discipline of heritage and science, producing both substantial scholarly work at the centre and highly innovative work at the leading edge of the field.

As experienced teachers, these staff also lead seminars, give lectures, offer one-to-one tutorials and engage directly with the students on the MRes Heritage Science.

Programme Director

Dr Matija Strlic
Send Matija an email

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor May Cassar
Send May an email

Dr Katherine Curran
Send Katherine an email

Situated in London and at UCL, the MRes Heritage Science programme is also able to draw on a wide range of other academics and visitors, such as established gallery curators, scientists and experts in the field, who give occasional talks and advice on student work.

Applying

Please click through to the UCL graduate prospectus page for this course, from where you can find information on application fees, eligibility, tuition fees, scholarships, and then complete the online application process.

Applicants should also review the faculty specific admissions information and the FAQ on admissions.

Scholarships and funding

The Centre for Sustainable Heritage has an attractive range of financial support packages available to suit both full-time and part-time postgraduate study.

High calibre applicants should apply for bursaries. This support could be used to cover part of the course fees, travel and/or living expenses, depending on the status of the applicant and the specific criteria of the bursaries.

Lichtblau e.K. Bursary

Contact

Application for this course is now possible. For enquiries please email Matija Strlic, Programme Director.

Opportunities

The MRes Heritage Science provides skills in scientific and conservation techniques for the research and critique of any conservation-related project. A student having completed the course will be equipped to undertake research in heritage science, and to evaluate work done in that field. Graduates of the course may pursue careers in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • further PhD studies and academia
  • museum science
  • curatorial, galleries and museums
  • heritage, preservation and conservation

The programme leads to an MRes Built Environment: Heritage Science. No postgraduate diploma route is offered. However, successful completion of the taught module and the transferrable skills module entitle you to a postgraduate certificate.

MRes Projects 2011/2012

The posters below describe the MRes student research projects.  They reflect the high level of interdisciplinarity and the great variety of topics addressed by the students. Select the links to access pdf files containing detailed descriptions of the individual projects.

2011-12 BENVGHR3 de Azevedo poster

Pimpim de Azevedo

Understanding arga as a building material in Tibetan architecture (pdf)

2011-12 BENVGHR3 Bardon poster

Tiphaine Bardon

‘Imagink’ - Terahertz imaging of archival objects (pdf)

2011-12 BENVGHR3 Beentjes poster

Gabriëlle Beentjes

Digitising archival records: does the user get the picture? (pdf)

2011-12 BENVGHR3 Robb poster

Jane Elisabeth Robb

Assessing Condition of Geological Collections: Identifying Unique Values (pdf)

MRes Projects 2012/2013

The posters below describe the MRes student research projects in the academic year 2012/2013.  There is an excellent range of topics, two materials-focussed ones, on tapestries and rapid prototyping materials, and a technique-focussed one, on hyperspectral imaging. Select the links to access pdf files containing detailed descriptions of the individual projects.

2012-13 BENVGHR3 Coon poster

Carolien Coon

An Investigation into the Dimensional and Colour Stability of 3D Printed Artefacts (pdf)

2012-13 BENVGHR3 McCullough poster

Lisa McCullough

Will Henry VIII's Tapestry Collection Last a Lifetime? (pdf)

2012-13 BENVGHR3 Padoan poster

Roberto Padoan

Quantitative Imaging Spectroscopy of Historical Documents - An "Ocean" of Digital Information for Non Destructive Risk Assessment of Exhibitions (pdf)

MRes Projects 2013/2014

The posters below describe the MRes student research projects in the academic year 2013/2014.  The topics range from development of methods to understand heritage collections and their environments to enhanced engagement with visitors. Select the links to access pdf files containing detailed descriptions of the individual projects.

2013-14-BENVGHR3-Bembibre

Cecilia Bembibre

Smell of Heritage (pdf)

2013-14-BENVGHR3-Huang

Joseph Huang

Fantastic Plastics and Airborne Pollutants - A Degrading Combination? (pdf)