UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage



The MSc HEFP is organised in four strands: introducing the key theoretical and methodological concepts underpinning sustainable heritage and the study of the future; engaging with other disciplinary perspectives on the future; exploring how these ideas are applied in the context of long-term social change; and developing practical research skills and techniques. In the academic year 2020/21 all modules are compulsory: optional modules will be introduced to meet demand in subsequent academic years.

Core heritage concepts

Students will take an initial foundation module, Introduction to sustainable heritage (15 credits). It will provide an overview of the core concepts underpinning sustainable heritage, and establish the academic and practical context of the programme. Teaching on this module will be shared with the other three ISH Master’s programmes.

Theorising and working with the future

The two subsequent modules introducing students to different ways of working with the future.

‘Foresight for heritage I’ (15 credits) will give students practical experience of strategic foresight tools, introducing core concepts of trends and drivers, and covering a range of techniques for creating and analysing future scenarios. Students will create their own scenarios reflecting possible futures for a heritage area relevant to their professional concerns.

‘Foresight for heritage II’ (15 credits) will introduce critical futures approaches that aim to find a place for social value and normative responses to future challenges, equipping students to critique the scenarios produced in the previous module. 

Critical perspectives from other fields

These two modules will engage with perspectives on the future from another field.

‘Time, systems and future heritage’ (15 credits) introduces students to different theoretical perspectives, engaging with theories of causation and emergence, understanding the social impact of ideas of the future, and examining discourses of the future throughout history. Together these will offer the theoretical and methodological resources students need to critically engage with the methods of strategic foresight currently employed in organisations around the world, and to begin to connect these with ideas of the long-term found in heritage. 

‘Design futures for heritage’ (15 credits) will introduce students to techniques from design futures and speculative design, and considering the role of design in creating new heritage. Students will create physical or digital artefacts from possible futures, and exhibit them as a group. 

Applying futures in the context of social and cultural change 

The following two modules engage with the ways in which ideas of the future are applied in processes of social and cultural change. 

‘Material futures for heritage’ (15 credits) will explore the place of the future in the development of the built environment and in changing patterns of land use, paying attention to the role of technology in shaping these and other arenas for heritage. 

‘Policy advice and evidence’ (30 credits) will examine the role of foresight in shaping national policy, and its connections with mechanisms for sharing scientific advice with policy groups more generally. This longer module will see students designing and undertaking research projects in response to a policy challenge set by a practicing heritage policy team. 

Research project 

Dissertation module (60 credits), in which they will design and undertake a research project: this will give them a chance to draw on previous modules in developing an appropriate methodology and relating their findings to a professional or policy context.