Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

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. Our undergraduate degree in this subject is the only degree programme at this level in the UK. It is a small, diverse programme taught by specialist, research-active staff.

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

In exploring the history of the built environment, we use a range of sources:

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

Our teaching mixes:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • site visits (drawing not least on the rich resources of Edinburgh)
  • independent study using the extensive library collections of the University

We work closely with local heritage organisations, including Historic Environment Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland, and usually can offer placements within the heritage sector as an element of our Year 3 and 4 teaching.

Year 1

Year 1 provides an introduction to the history of architecture.

You will:

  • take two introductory courses, covering the development of the built environment from the earliest times to the present and introducing key styles, building types, and ways of looking at the past
  • 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

Year 2

In Year 2 your learning will expand to consider the city as a social and cultural phenomenon, and will also introduce key themes in heritage.

You will:

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

Year 3

In Year 3 you will:

  • deepen your study of the built environment by taking several specialist courses in the history of architecture, from the Medieval period, through the early and late modern periods, and into the 20th century
  • also take a course which looks at the role of text in architectural practice
  • have the opportunity to apply for an assessed work placement with a local heritage organisation, giving you first-hand experience of conservation in practice

Year 4

In Year 4 you will choose specialist honours courses 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 (2024/25)

Our facilities

Teaching on this programme takes place across a range of facilities, all located in central Edinburgh. They include 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.

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 have the opportunity to apply to 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.

Architectural History and Heritage is directly relevant for further study or careers in:

  • the conservation of buildings and cities
  • land management
  • heritage or historical consultancy
  • education

However, our graduates also go on to work in a wide range of other areas, using the research and communication skills encouraged by this degree.

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

Careers Service

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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept PTE Academic Online.*

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

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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