Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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MA Architectural History and Heritage

UCAS code: VV31

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Architectural History and Heritage

Architectural History and Heritage involves the study of buildings and places.

We are interested in the built environment as a work of design. More importantly, however, we ask what the built environment can tell us about wider social, cultural and political themes in history. We also consider issues in contemporary architectural heritage.

What do buildings and designs reveal about the past? How do we put them in context? To answer these questions, we use a range of sources:

  • the evidence of standing buildings
  • architectural plans and drawings
  • written sources
  • films
  • photographs

Why Edinburgh?

We offer an unrivalled variety of study in the historic built environment.

Your teaching will include the extraordinarily rich urban context of Edinburgh itself, as well as the architectural heritage of Europe and beyond.

Edinburgh has a unique concentration of professional architectural historians, all of whom complete research and publish regularly in addition to their roles as teachers.

Our staff specialise in a wide range of topics, spanning periods between:

  • ancient and medieval
  • early and late modern
  • the twentieth century

We also have expertise in heritage theory and conservation practice.

Year 1

In Year 1, you will:

  • study an introductory course covering the development of the built environment from earliest times to the present
  • take relevant options in history, archaeology, and history of art
  • have the opportunity to choose any other courses in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences that suit your programme and timetable suit your programme and timetable

Year 2

In Year 2, your learning will expand to consider the city as a social and cultural phenomenon.

You will:

  • study a course dealing specifically with techniques and practices concerning heritage management and conservation
  • have the opportunity to take optional courses from across Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and the wider College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Year 3

In Year 3, you will:

  • study Texts and Theories in Western Architecture
  • deepen your study of the built environment by taking a number of specialist courses in the history of architecture, from the Medieval period, through the early and late modern periods, and into the twentieth century
  • have the opportunity to complete a work placement, giving you first-hand experience of conservation in practice

Year 4

In Year 4, specialist honours courses are chosen on the same basis as Year 3.

You will also complete a major supervised research dissertation on a topic of your choosing.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

Teaching on this programme takes place across a range of facilities, all located in the Central Area. This includes lecture theatres and seminar rooms, as well as on site at city locations.

You will also have access to our libraries, which have extensive holdings in the history of art and architecture.

####Investing in our learning environment

The University is investing in the Edinburgh College of Art estate and facilities. This will further develop our supportive, stimulating and sustainable learning and research environment.

You can find out more on the ECA website.

Facilities and resources at ECA


Placements are an important part of the programme in Year 3.

You will usually go on placement with a local heritage-based organisation.

You will gain experience in assessing and studying methods and strategies for managing the historic built environment.

Study abroad

You will have opportunities to study abroad.

Exchange programmes

In Year 3, we offer a dedicated exchange opportunity with architectural history at the University of Virginia in the United States.

We organise other exchange opportunities with the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) Exchanges Coordinator. These vary in timing and location.

European trips

Each year, the Ben Pentreath Fund allows Years 3 and 4 students to make a trip to a European destination.

This is an opportunity to study and discuss major works of architecture in context.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • projects
  • study trips
  • practical experience

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through:

  • coursework
  • exams
  • presentations

In Year 4, you will complete a dissertation.

Our graduates go on to careers in:

  • conservation
  • land management
  • heritage or historical consultancy
  • education

You can also go on to work in a wide range of other areas where you can use the research and communication skills you will learn with this degree.

As a student, you can visit the University Careers Service for help and advice about your future.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Architectural History and Heritage

Additional costs



For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding