Module: Historical Building Conservation in Practice

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    David Hardwick
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    30 hours

Module content

Building Pathology: Identifying threats to the integrity and long term future of historic buildings. In particular those posed by structural and material failures often as a result of past modifications and their cumulative effect. 

Conservation Interventions:  Assessing the potential suitability of different methods and techniques for the physical conservation of historic buildings and structures in a range of different settings.  Case studies explore the different approaches to conservation intervention adopted by different heritage bodies and organisations. Identification of best practice in a given context. 

Conservation Management Planning: Integrating and using the evidence and working with stakeholders to build a deliverable conservation management plan and to make recommendations for appropriate conservation interventions.  

By the end participants will be able to develop and communicate a coherent, sustainable, vision for the future of historic buildings, structures and environments.

Module outcomes

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

  1. Show evidence of a broad knowledge of the physical characteristics of historic buildings and structures; the nature and properties of construction methods and materials
  2. Articulate and critically evaluate theoretical and professional approaches to the physical conservation of historic buildings and structures
  3. Demonstrate a knowledge of practical building conservation methods & skills and assess their suitability for the repair and alteration of historic buildings and structures
  4. Make reasoned and justified recommendations, based upon the integration of different lines of evidence and best practice, for appropriate conservation management strategies for a range of historic buildings and structures


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework 1 Group survey incl the examination & analysis of a building defect to a historic property, assess & evaluate the causes & options for remedial work. 15 min Video blog/podcast of conclusions 50%
Coursework 2 Produce a written analysis in the form of a short Conservation Plan for the property. (1500 words excluding figures, tables and appendices). 50%

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

Key texts

Essential resources:

  • Historic England (2013) Practical Building Conservation: Conservation Basics.  London: English Heritage. 
  • Forsyth, M. (Editor) (2013) Understanding Historic Building Conservation (Historic Building Conservation Volume 1).  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Forsyth, M. (Editor) (2013) Structures & Construction in Historic Building Conservation (Historic Building Conservation Volume 2).  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Forsyth, M. (Editor) (2012) Materials & Skills for Historic Building Conservation (Historic Building Conservation Volume 3).  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Orbasli, A. (2007)   Architectural Conservation: Principles and Practice.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell

Additional resources:

  • Ashurst J. (ed): Conservation of Ruins, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007,
  • Beckmann, P. & Bowles, R. (2004) Structural Aspects of Building Conservation (2nd Edition).  Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann
  • BSI: (2013)    BS 7913:2013 Guide To the Principles Of The Conservation of Historic Buildings,
  • Cadw  (2011)  Conservation Principles for the Sustainable management of the historic environment in  Wales.  CADW, Cardiff. (see
  • Klemisch, J.: Maintenance of Historic Buildings, Routledge
  • Oxley, R.: (2003) Survey & Repair of Traditional Buildings: A Sustainable Approach, Routledge,
  • SPAB (2008) Faith in Maintenance: The Good Maintenance Guide, SPAB
  • Suhr, M. & Hunt, R., (2019) Old House Eco Handbook: A Practical Guide to Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
  • Watt, D.: (2008)   Building Pathology, Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell.


  • Burkinshaw, R. and Parrett, M.: Diagnosing Damp, RICS Business Services, 2004 Ridout, B.: Timber Decay in Buildings, The Conservation Approach to Treatments, E. & F. N. Span, 2004
  • Robson, P.: Structural Appraisal of Traditional Buildings, Routledge, (Second Edition), 2005

Building Materials & Repairs

  • Ashurst, J: (2002) Mortars, Plasters & Renders in Conservation (Second Edition), Ecclesiastical Architects & Surveyors Association, 2002
  • Brocklebank, I. (ed.): Building Limes in Conservation, Routledge, 2012
  • C.I.B.S.E.: Guide for Building Services for Historic Buildings: Sustainable Services for Traditional Buildings, C.I.B.S.E., 2002
  • Historic England: Practical Building Conservation Series: Martin, B. and Woods, C. (series eds.): Ashgate, Farnham.

                        Stone (2012)

                        Timber (2012)

                        Glass & Glazing (2012)

                        Metals (2012)

                        Mortars, Renders and Plaster (2012)

                        Roofing (2012)

                        Concrete (2012)

                        Earth, Brick & Terracotta (2014)

  • Henry A. (ed),: Stone Conservation: Principles & Practice, Routledge 2006
  • Slocombe, M. (2012) Traditional Building Materials, Shire Publications
  • Tutton, M. & Hirst, E.(eds): Windows: History, Repair and Conservation, Routledge, 2007

Conservation Plans

  • Semple Kerr, J: Conservation Plans. National Trust Of Australia, 2000 (Fifth Edition) (available from ICOMOS-UK)
  • The Prince’s Regeneration Trust: How to: Write Conservation Reports, London, 2009 (downloadable from PRT website)
  • Clark K (2000) Conservation Plans in Action English Heritage
  • Historic Scotland (2000)  A Guide to the Preparation of Conservation Plans, Edinburgh.