About the programme

Heritage flourishes at local, national and international levels where it takes many forms and its contribution to community building, economic prosperity, cultural adaptation and a sense of belonging is widely recognised.  It is a dimension of any and all spheres of human activity and lends itself to study across disciplinary boundaries.  Public history is emerging as a field, concerned with the many ways the past is put to use in the present.

The Doctorate in Heritage (DHeritage) programme is aimed at professionals who work in, or desire to work in, the heritage field broadly defined, whether in the private or the public sector. It will interest those who are employed in tourism, planning, museums, archives, community history, archaeology, and social and cultural sustainability. It will appeal to practitioners who want to reflect on and contribute to the latest thinking in what is a dynamic and ever-changing sector crucial to many economies and to local and national identities.

Students will typically follow the programme as part of a cohort, supported by research training and supervision shaped to their needs from across the disciplines of History, Education, Digital Humanities, Creative Writing, Creative Arts, Law, Business, and Tourism. Students will be able to select their topic and training according to individual needs and interests, and current developments in the field.

For more information, please contact Programme Director, Prof Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, g.lees-maffei@herts.ac.uk or Dr Saskia Kersten s.kersten@herts.ac.uk.

Why choose this programme?

DHeritage is a broad-based, flexible qualification developed in association with experts from across the sector.  It aims to integrate scholarship on a whole range of interdisciplinary themes, including professional ethics, sustainability, cultural memory and heritage policy. 

Teaching methods

The DHeritage is modelled as a 6-year programme with three phases of study; however, there is the flexibility for students to complete more quickly, should they wish to do so and their progress indicates that is possible.

Phase 1

During Phase 1 (typically years 1 and 2 of study), students will attend 8 workshops, each consisting of a 1-day workshop plus a formatively assessed independent assignment of 4-6,000 words or equivalent.

Of the 8 Thematic Areas, 2 are required core study: Research Methods and Writing in year 1; Proposal Development and Presentation in year 2.  Students will undertake a further 6 thematic workshops, delivered on a rolling programme by expert staff and available to all students on the Programme.

Students will also be supported by their supervision team in working towards their research degree registration assessment, which takes place 8 months after enrolment.  Full supervisory teams will meet with students at least 3 times per phase, with additional supervision from the Principal Supervisor. Supervisory meetings typically coincide with workshops with additional meetings are scheduled between the student and the Principal Supervisor at mutually convenient times.

DHeritage students from all years are invited to the annual History staff-student research conference at Cumberland Lodge and become members of the postgraduate History Lab.  Students with supervisors in other Schools will also be invited to join any similar activities in those Schools. DHeritage students are encouraged to attend the Spring and Summer Schools hosted by the University’s Researcher Development Programme.

Phase 2

During Phase 2 (usually years 3 and 4), students will come into the university for 4 1-day workshops, based on sharing and discussing progress, addressing research issues, and with some delivered content (for example, an external speaker, or a guided exploration of a film, online resource or article) 

Students will continue to receive the support of their supervision team, leading to a progression assessment by around 40 months of study.   The progression assessment verifies that students are in a position to complete their studies at doctoral level.  Those in a position to complete early (i.e. in fewer than 6 years) can take this assessment before the end of their fourth year, then submit for final assessment at whatever point in phase 3 they are ready to do so.

If the participant has met the relevant criteria, the award of MA by Research is available at the end of Phase 1, for which participants would need to develop a submission based on their programme of work for this phase.

Phase 3

Students will continue to develop their research, with supervisory support, leading to the final doctoral submission.

The submission typically comprises a thesis of around 55,000 words and a portfolio of supporting work.  The portfolio will typically comprise material showing how research developed in the thesis would be put to use in practice, for example, an exhibition outline, a digital resource, a guide or catalogue.  The portfolio may thus include a substantial element of non-textual work, although a commentary and analysis of 5,000-10,000 words is required as part of the portfolio to explain and locate the materials relative to the thesis and any relevant practical examples or issues.

All phases

Where relevant, participants will be required to follow elements of the University’s Researcher Development Programme, at appropriate points during all phases of study.  This training programme takes place on weekdays. 

Throughout the programme participants will be subject to ongoing monitoring and assessment of progress in line the University Research Degree Regulations.

Research training

Support is provided through supervision, discussion of key issues on study days, and attendance at the University’s Researcher Development Training Programme sessions.  Read more about DHeritage students’ research here.

Programme experts

Prof Grace Lees-Maffei, Director, DHeritage

Find out more about Prof Grace Lees-Maffei, Director, DHeritage

Entry requirements...

Entry qualifications are assessed on an individual basis.  Normally participants will have: an Honours degree or equivalent; a relevant Masters Degree and five years relevant professional experience. 

Candidates without a Masters degree will need to demonstrate an equivalent level of accomplishment through professional practice, based on appropriate professional training (e.g. Associateship of the Museums Association). Candidates for whom English is not their first language will require certification of English language competence (minimum TOEFL 6.5, preferably higher).

At admission, candidates will be allocated a Principal and one or two Second Supervisors based on the research area they have set out in their Research Proposal and in their interviews.

Download 2016/17 information pack

Programme fees



Start DateEnd DateLink
23/09/201931/07/2020Apply online (Full Time)
23/09/201931/07/2020Apply online (Part Time)