Doctorate in Heritage

About the course

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 all spheres of human activity and lends itself to study across disciplinary boundaries.

The Professional 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 attracts those who are employed in planning, museums, archives, community history, archaeology, and social and cultural sustainability. It appeals 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 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, and Law. This highly interdisciplinary approach to heritage is part of the unique provision for the DHeritage at the University of Hertfordshire. Students select their topics and training according to individual needs and interests, and current developments in the field.

For more information, please contact:

Teaching methods

Research training

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. Support is provided through supervision, discussion of key issues during workshops, engagement with DHeritage online content through the University’s web-based Managed Learning Environment, and attendance at the University’s Researcher Development Training Programme sessions and other University events.

Phase 1

During Phase 1 (typically years 1 and 2 of study), students complete 8 workshops, each consisting of a 1-day campus event (or online equivalent) plus a formatively assessed independent assignment.

Of the 8 workshops, 2 are required core study: Research Methods and Writing in year 1; Project 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 DHeritage students.

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 or Co-Supervisors as needed. Supervisory meetings typically coincide with workshops; additional meetings are scheduled at mutually convenient times.

DHeritage students benefit from an annual conference and can join the postgraduate History Lab. Students with supervisors in other Schools will also be invited to join any similar activities in those Schools such as the TVAD Talks in the School of Creative Arts. DHeritage students are encouraged to attend the Spring and Summer Schools hosted by the University’s Researcher Development Programme. If the participant has met the relevant criteria, an exit 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 2

During Phase 2 (usually years 3 and 4), students will come into the University for 4 x 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 continue to receive the support of their supervision team in Phase 2, leading to a Doctoral Review progression assessment by around 40 months of study.  This verifies that students are in a position to complete their studies at doctoral level. Students 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 in phase 3 when they are ready.

If the participant has met the relevant criteria, an exit award of MPhil is available at the end of Phase 2, for which participants develop a submission based on their programme of work for Phases 1 and 2.

Phase 3

Students in Phase 3 continue to develop their research, with supervisory support, leading to their 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 can be used in practice, for example, an exhibition outline, a digital resource, an extended archival finding aid, a code of practice, a guidebook, catalogue or other published work. The portfolio may 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

All postgraduate students are required to follow some elements of the University’s Researcher Development Programme (RDP), at appropriate points during all phases of study. In addition, DHeritage students are encouraged to participate fully in the RDP including the Spring and Summer Schools. Most RDP training occurs on weekdays. 

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

Distance learning

The DHeritage is available as a distance learning degree, which allows students to attend for approximately 50% of the campus sessions with the other 50% being accessed online via our Managed Learning Environment. Each campus-based workshop has an online equivalent.

DHeritage students

Our students work in heritage, broadly defined, including for example organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage, higher education, and film production.

DHeritage students’ work has been featured in

Our students have worked with the University’s Heritage Hub to publish responses to a series of podcasts:

Read more about DHeritage students’ work:

Course experts

Prof Grace Lees-Maffei, Director, DHeritage

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

What’s next for my career?

  • DHeritage is a broad-based, flexible qualification developed in association with experts from across the sector
  • DHeritage integrates current thinking on a wide range of interdisciplinary themes, including professional ethics, sustainability, cultural memory and heritage policy 
  • DHeritage students enjoy a cohort experience
  • The programme is available part-time to fit in with professional work
  • DHeritage is also available as a distance-learning option, with online workshops
  • DHeritage students benefit from strong links with the University’s Heritage Hub and UH Arts and the International Garden Cities Institute (IGCI)



Start DateEnd DateYearLocationLink
01/10/202431/07/20251UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Full Time)
01/10/202431/07/20251UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Part Time)


Start DateEnd DateYearLocationLink
01/10/202531/07/20261UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Full Time)
01/10/202531/07/20261UH Hatfield CampusApply online (Part Time)

Course fees

Research degree fees for UK and EU students.

Research degree fees for international students.

The University of Hertfordshire’s School of Creative Arts is committed to widening access to higher education. To encourage heritage professionals to consider studying for a doctorate in heritage, we are inviting applications from UK-based students working in the heritage sector, broadly defined, for a six-year, part-time bursary which will cover University fees and provide a £500 annual study allowanc

Find out more about the DHeritage fees bursary.

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