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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

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Research

UCL ISH’s research frequently influences policy-making and has been described by the Smithsonian Institution as ‘world-leading’.

Our research spans subjects in the arts and humanities and the hard sciences. This means expertise is drawn from across many disciplines, not just within the Institute, but also from the BEAMS Heritage Science and Engineering Network, a community of experts in departments across UCL with an interest in cultural heritage work. 

Our research is nationally and internationall recognised. In the latest national research assessment (REF 2014), 46% our faculty’s research was rated ‘world-leading’ (4*), with a further 35% recognised as 3* internationally excellent. The Smithsonian Institution has also described our Institute as "world-leading". The institute was awarded the Europa Nostra Grand Prix for Research – a highly regarded prize in the field of heritage science research - for our Noah's Ark project in 2010.


Themes

We have four major research themes, covering the multidisciplinary research interests and project at the Institute. Information about which can be found below:

Photo showing the aftermath of an eathquake in Abruzzo, Italy.
Heritage Risk and Resilience

Heritage Risk and Resilience is a growing interdisciplinary discipline. It first emerged from the practical need of heritage practitioners to manage, interpret and enhance heritage.

Smells of heritage research
Heritage Science

Heritage science is a crossdisciplinary research area encompassing science of understanding of the past and management of heritage.

Reels of old film from a collection
Modern and Contemporary Heritage

Finding solutions to the challeneges posed by modern and contemporary material conservation by taking an interdisciplinary approach that combines fundamental and applied science with approaches adapted from the social sciences.

A person using a virtual reality headset
Future Heritage

Future heritage is concerned with heritage that does not yet exist, and which may require radically new approaches to the way heritage is theorised, curated, and protected. It seeks to highlight the ways heritage can contribute to societies’ successful adaptation to a warmer, more complex and uncertain world.


Facilties

The work of our staff and students is supported by our world-class research and teaching facilities. Our facilities include:

  • Heritage Science Laboratory - Our state-of-the-art lab at 29 Gordon Street offers 100m2 of lab space for studying historic objects and environments. The lab houses an archive of reference historic sample materials, an invaluable source of study materials for collaborative, doctoral and Masters projects.
  • Mobile Heritage Lab - a unique research vehicle that enables scientific research as well as engagement with the public and professionals in museums, heritage and archaeological sites across the UK.
  • Here East laboratory space

Impact

Our research informs our teaching, benefits the partners that we work with, and, aims to push forward knowledge and understanding within heritage and scientific communities. But there’s often a wider audience for our work.

To give the public a chance to learn about and evaluate our work work, we publish best practice case studies that demonstrate the impact of research projects we carry out.

Public engagement is an important part of our work. We have disseminated our research through newspaper articles, television, poetry, stand-up comedy, public lectures and participation in public events at institutions such as the British Museum and the British Library.


Project Directory

MRes Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archeology students studying a painting

Our research projects engage with complex, real-world heritage issues that demand world-class research expertise from numerous disciplines. View our project directory to find out more.

View our full project directory


Our researchers 

Our researchers make a vabluable contribution to identifying the problems facing cultural heritage today, and to devising sustainable solutions for the future. 

View our Researcher's profiles