Supporting Heritage

Module code: MU7520

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sheila Watson

This module focuses on the way that heritage processes, resources, sites, collections, and communities can be supported, managed and sustained, and offers opportunities for you to develop a range of skills and knowledge in heritage management. Key topics include the role of vision and strategy, conservation and preservation of heritage resources, ethics, staff and volunteers, management, marketing, and fundraising. The module covers vital areas of professional heritage work, and looks in detail at how we might best work with external partners, funders, audiences, visitors, and communities

Topics covered

Unit 1 - Vision and strategy

Unit 1 addresses the way heritage organisations can succeed in their numerous challenges through generating and fostering a shared vision and mission. Heritage organisations are constantly changing through the forces and pressures they face from myriad different stakeholders, funders and agencies. This unit sets up a strategic approach to the management of change, both in theory and in practice.

Unit 2 - Heritage management and ethics

This unit brings our understanding of heritage organisations right up to date, considering the ethical and moral obligations, and formal ethical codes of practice. This unit introduces some current ethical issues, and considers the meaning of accountability.

Unit 3 - Heritage conservation and preservation

Unit 3 introduces the terminology and major concepts involved in the conservation of heritage sites and objects. It looks at key aspects of preventive conservation practice including relative humidity, temperature, light and biological infestation, and introduces methods for measurement and control. It also deals with the tension between access and conservation.

Unit 4 - Supporting staff and volunteers

Unit four focuses on the need for a shared vision in museums by looking at the organisation and management of the heritage organisation’s most valuable resource: people. We will identify the internal forces that shape museums and how leaders can motivate both paid and unpaid staff to effect change. We also continue the discussion on access and inclusion by exploring ways in which heritage organisations may diversify their workforce in response to broader developments within the communities and wider society in which they operate.

Unit 5 - Managing heritage sites

Unit 5 draws on management theory and international case studies to introduce and explore the basic principles and practicalities of heritage management, including access, health and safety, and insurance.

Unit 6 - Researching and supporting visitors

This unit focuses on visitor studies and lays the basis for the development of a good understanding of the theory and practice of visitor studies through assessing a number of overviews and through close analysis of a range of studies carried out from diverse perspectives.

Unit 7 - Managing heritage collections

Unit 7 focuses on collection management and collection management standards, and how they relate to museum and heritage practice. It takes a broad, historical look at the ways in which information has been organised inside and outside heritage institutions and outlines key documentation, processes and information management systems. The unit also explores the contentious issues of disposal and deaccession, and associated legal, ethical and professional considerations.

Unit 8 - Marketing and reaching audiences

Utilising several theoretical and practical angles, we will consider how we can understand and reach diverse museum audiences. It concludes with a consideration of the role of marketing in museums, which provides links between organisations and audiences, both existing and potential.

Unit 9 - Managing external relationships

This unit explores heritage organisations’ external networks - funders, local and national government, consultants and specialist contractors, interest groups and stakeholders, researchers and the academic community - and the issues involved in establishing and sustaining these partnerships.

Unit 10 - Managing budgets and fundraising

This unit explores the financial aspect of project management. We will look at the basics of fundraising – researching and locating sources of financial support, writing clear briefs and business plans, demonstrating public value, and making bids –as well as planning and setting budgets, developing and maintaining budget management systems, financial reporting and assessing risk.


  • 225 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 4,000-5,000 words (100%)