Sustainable Heritage MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

Sustainable heritage studies the management and conversation of heritage as well as exploring how heritage can be a catalyst for social, economic, and environmental sustainable development. These ideas have quickly gained recognition and value in the worlds of management, physical and natural sciences and the heritage sector. The UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage delivers sustainable solutions to real-world problems concerning heritage, and works with external partners on ground-breaking, cross-disciplinary research and innovative teaching for future heritage leaders.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
October 2024
February 2025
May 2025
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Research degree students start their programme in BSEER in September or January each academic year. Starting at other times is by exception where a strong justification is made.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

*Should you experience any issues with the drop-down below, try de-selecting the country and re-selecting it. If this doesn't work, then you may refer to this page which may help you find the same equivalencies - check the Entry requirements above beforehand. Please note the table is indicative only, revisiting when the dropdown is working to confirm is recommended.

About this degree

Research is at the core of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage. Our work bridges physical and natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, combining transdisciplinary expertise to deliver sustainable solutions to real-world problems concerning heritage. Our staff have a diverse range of research expertise which falls into three main areas: heritage management, heritage science, and heritage policy. You can read more about our research on our website.

As an MPhil/PhD student with us, you will undertake your own original sustainable heritage research, culminating in an MPhil or PhD thesis. As a member of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, you will be a part of a diverse and passionate doctoral cohort, and also participate in our programme of monthly Institute research seminars. More widely within UCL, you will have access to an impressive range of self-taught and guided training programmes and activities offered by the Doctoral School.

Through undertaking a research degree, our PhD students demonstrate the capacity to organise, carry out and communicate a substantial piece of research, presented in a thesis that demonstrates academic rigour and originality.

Who this course is for

This programme is for those wishing to develop an advanced critical analysis in Sustainable Heritage. Our research is motivated by real-world challenges, emphasising the development of new knowledge and fundamental understanding of heritage and our world, but with equal appreciation given to the implications for heritage management and policy.

What this course will give you

For those wishing to take their study of heritage to the next level, we offer a research environment of the highest standard.

You will work with people and partners engaged with real-world heritage projects and issues. The research you conduct will have the potential to reach a wide audience, far beyond UCL. You can discover the experiences of some of our current and past MPhil/PhD students on our postgraduate research journeys webpage.

We have laboratory facilities for experimental research, as well as access to cluster computing through UCL for computationally-intensive projects. UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage is based in Central House on UCL’s Bloomsbury campus in Central London. Desks are available for all PhD students and academic staff using a hot-desking system. We also have a Staff and PhD common room, designed for collaborative working. We expect full-time students to reside within commuting distance of London so they are able to attend campus regularly.

In the latest national research assessment (REF 2021), our Faculty, The Bartlett, was number one for Research Power in the built environment, with 91% of our Faculty’s research deemed ‘World Leading’ and ‘Internationally Excellent’. Most of our research is undertaken in partnership with heritage and policy organisations to ground our work, and create real-world impact.

The foundation of your career

Everyone has a stake in their heritage. The UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage trains the future managers, curators and conservators of that heritage, as well as entrepreneurs, publishers, policymakers, grant funders and fund raisers.

Our alumni have gone on to pursue a range of exciting careers in academia, museum and heritage leadership, broadcasting, communication, development, publishing, policy, science, industry and project management. Some examples of our graduates’ employers are Historic England, the National Archives, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, The Metropolitan Music of Art, the Canadian Conservation Institute, Chiang Mai University, and the Centre of Excellence Cyprus. V&A, the Canadian Conservation Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and ICCROM.


Beyond becoming an expert in your chosen field, you will gain employable attributes including leadership, communication, teamwork, language and business skills, refined in a dynamic cross-disciplinary research environment through our taught programmes, workshops, internal and external seminars.


Supervision and mentorship is available from world-leading researchers with international and national contacts and collaborations across policy, government, cultural institutions, academia and industry, and our approach is always cross-disciplinary. We've collaborated on research with many of the world's leading organisations in the field, including Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, the Library of Congress, Tate, the Smithsonian Institution, the Rijksmuseum, the Musée du Louvre, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Belgian Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, as well as more broadly with UNESCO, Dyson, and Clyde HSI. These links provide opportunities to network and collaborate with a wide vary of external partners. Our students gain access to a range of networking events, career workshops and specialised seminars.

Teaching and learning

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) consists of a piece of supervised research, normally undertaken over a period of three years full-time.

Assessment is by means of a thesis, which should demonstrate your capacity to pursue original research based upon a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline.

Initially, you will be registered for the MPhil degree. If you wish to proceed to a PhD, you will be required to pass an 'Upgrade' assessment. The purpose of the upgrade is to assess your progress and ability to complete your PhD programme to a good standard and in a reasonable time frame. It is expected that a full-time student will attempt upgrade within 18 months of registration.

A full-time PhD is a significant time commitment. You should expect to dedicate around 35 hours per week to your research. You should meet frequently with your supervisors and engage with the departmental and UCL communities more widely through events, training, and networking opportunities.

Research areas and structure

The quality and value of our research has been widely recognised. The Smithsonian Institution has called it ‘world-leading’. In 2010, with others, we were awarded the Europa Nostra Grand Prix for Research, for the Noah’s Ark project studying the effects of climate change on heritage buildings and sites.

Our major research themes include:

  • Future Heritage
  • Heritage Management
  • Heritage Science
  • Modern Materials

Research environment

The UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage is a dynamic and interdisciplinary place to undertake research. Our research pushes the boundaries of heritage management, heritage science, and heritage policy, and seeks to make links between them. We work collaboratively with colleagues across UCL, providing opportunities to complement our already challenging and inspiring research environment. We work closely with leading organisations in the sector to ensure that we are also at the cutting edge of tackling the grand challenges of the heritage sector.

Students are initially registered for an MPhil degree. Those studying full-time for a PhD undertake a formal “upgrade process” the first attempt of which should take place between 9 and 18 months after commencing study, including a public presentation and oral examination, and if successful are registered as PhD students. 
A full-time PhD programme is undertaken over three years. Once you have completed this period, you are able to apply for “Continuing Research Status” (CRS), with no further fees, if your studies are sufficiently advanced and you meet additional CRS entry criteria. Some funders instead offer four-year scholarships which extends the period of study. At the end of your studies the written thesis is evaluated by at least two examiners, including an oral examination. The thesis is evaluated against several expectations for a PhD awarded by UCL.

Part-time students follow the same programme as full-time students, except that the programme length is five years, with up to two additional years in Continuing Research Status, and the first attempt at upgrade normally takes place between 15 and 30 months of initial registration.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £28,100 £14,050

Route code RRDEERSSUH01

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

As a research student your additional costs may include expenses such as books, conference attendance and field research, in the UK or overseas.

The Bartlett Faculty provides financial support to students through the Bartlett Student Conference Fund, Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Fund, Bartlett External Training Fund and Bartlett Extenuating Circumstances Fund. However, please note that these funds are limited and available through competition. 

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

The Bartlett Promise Scholarship is a long-term project from our Faculty to attract students from a broader range of backgrounds and tackle the lack of diversity in the built environment. Please see the UK PhD scholarship page for more information on eligibility eligibility criteria, selection process and FAQs.

We also occasionally have funded studentships available. These are advertised on the Funded Research Opportunities page and can be found by filtering to the ‘Bartlett School of Environment Energy and Resources’. If you would like funded studentship opportunities sent to you via email, please register your interest in studying Sustainable Heritage with us.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Bartlett Promise PhD Scholarship

Deadline: 19 May 2024
Value: Full fees, plus £19,668 maintenance (Normal duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (ROS)

Deadline: 12 January 2024
Value: UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

We ask that students follow a four-step process when considering an application to the Sustainable Heritage MPhil/PhD.

  1. Identify a research area or project: you can either propose a research project you have developed or indicate an area of research from our departmental pages.
  2. Identify a potential supervisor: before submitting an expression of interest, you should identify your potential principal supervisor. This should be someone whose interests fit with what you wish to research. You may identify a suitable supervisor through our research theme pages or individual staff profiles.
  3. Make an informal enquiry: contact a potential supervisor by email; you should include a CV. If you are proposing your own research project, prepare a 2-page outline research proposal covering the project context, key literature, research question(s) and proposed methods. If you are struggling to identify a suitable supervisor, please send your materials to
  4. Submit a formal application: once you have completed the above steps and agreed a supervisory team and research proposal or have been directed to apply by the Departmental Graduate Tutor (Research) or programme administrator, you can submit a formal application to UCL through the ‘Apply now’ button at the top of this page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

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