Module: The Challenge of Change: Heritage Context, Significance, Planning Policy & Law

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Dr Geraint Coles
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    30 hours

Module content

Change is everywhere – it is one of the few constants. The management of the historic environment is also subject to change and the threat of change from multiple directions. 

This module seeks to develop an understanding of the complex contemporary economic, social and political issues facing heritage and the ways in which these may shape future discourse and development. 

It further seeks to understand the ways in which heritage may be protected and the legal basis for the protection of ancient sites, landscapes and historic buildings.  It introduces the key concepts context, significance and value and explore their legal interpretation.  

In so doing it emphasises the need for a holistic approach to the preservation of the past – incorporating understanding not only of physical remains but also the less tangible heritage which surrounds localities and creates a “sense of place”.  It stresses the need for a partnership approach which incorporates communities of interest and geography, widely differing stakeholders and is sensitive to the different perceptions of a given heritage resource held by differing groups.

The module will enable participants to develop a broad understanding of the diversity of approaches to the conservation and management of a range of built environments using case studies largely drawn from the UK but with appropriate comparative material drawn from around the world.   

The case studies will explore the chief conservation challenges facing different types of historic environment and explore how these issues may be addressed in terms of research, assessment of heritage value, legal protection, physical conservation, preservation and sustainable development. 

The goal is to enable participants to engage fully with one of the key stages of the heritage management cycle – that is: To undertake assessment of the resource, evaluate complex threats and determine appropriate strategies for conservation interventions.  It aims to encourage the formulation of an integrative approach to sustainable management based upon an understanding of both conservation need and community engagement.

Module outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate critical understanding of the complex contemporary economic, social and political issues facing cultural heritage
  2. Investigate and evaluate the range of threats facing the historic environment and be fully cognisant of the concepts of context, significance and value
  3. Understand and be familiar with the use of legal tools and instruments to protect the historic environment
  4. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the roles of key international, national and local agencies in heritage protection


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework 1 Presentation of a short (15 minute) paper for a “mini-conference” on a topic set at the start of the year (equal to 1000 words) 40%
Coursework 2 A written research paper building on the mini-conference presentation (2000 words) 60%

Assessments may differ in 2020/21 due to adjustments for Covid-19. Please check Gateway for the latest regulations.

Key texts

Essential resources:

Students need to be familiar with the contents of one of the following:

  • Kalman, H. (2014) Heritage Planning – Principles and Process.  Routledge, London.

Policy and Legislation

  • Kohl, J.M. & McCool, S.F. (2016)  The Future has Other Plans:  Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage.  Golden Colorado, Fulcrum Publishing.  ISBN 9781 6827 50001
  • Strange, I., & Whitney, D. (2003). The changing roles and purposes of heritage conservation in the UK. Planning, Practice & Research, 18(2-3), 219-229.
  • UK Heritage Protection Legislation – various Acts of Parliament (linked to on-line)
  • UNESCO Conventions (protection of heritage, etc.) (linked to on-line)
  • Aas, C., Ladkin, A., & Fletcher, J. (2005). Stakeholder collaboration and heritage management. Annals of tourism research, 32(1), 28-48.
  • Claudia Nissley (Author); Thomas F. King (Author) Consultation and Cultural Heritage - Let Us Reason Together.  Walnut Grove: Left Coast Press.  175 pp
  • Kalman, H. (2014) Heritage Planning – Principles and Process.  Routledge, London.

Organisations and structures

  • Hunter, J. & Ralston, I.  (1993)  Archaeological Resource Management in the UK.  Stroud: Alan Sutton.
  • McManamon, F.P., Stout, A. & Barnes, J.A. (2008) Managing Archaeological Resources: Global Context, National Programs, Local Actions.  Walnut Grove: Left Coast Press.  300 pp.
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Architecture and Historic Environment Division (2002)  The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future. London: Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
  • Hall, M.C. & McArthur, S. (1998) Integrated heritage management: principles and practice. London: Stationery Office 
  • National Historic Ships (2010) Conserving Historic Vessels.  Understanding Historic Vessels, Volume 3. Greenwich:  National Historic Ships.
  • Stapp, D.C. & Longenecker, J.G. (2009) Avoiding Archaeological Disasters: A Risk Management Approach.  Techniques & Issues in Cultural Resource Management 2.   Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.
  • Venn, T. J., & Quiggin, J. (2007). Accommodating indigenous cultural heritage values in resource assessment: Cape York Peninsula and the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia. Ecological Economics, 61(2), 334-344.
  • UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre (2010) Management plans and the World Heritage Convention: A bibliography.  See: