Module: Management of Historic Buildings & Heritage Sites

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Dr Geraint Coles
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    150 hours
  • Contact hrs

    30 hours

Module content

One of the key roles of heritage management is to make the past accessible to the widest possible number of people. Managing how people visit museums, sites, monuments, buildings, structures and landscapes is therefore part of the heritage manager’s essential skill set. This requires an understanding of the nature of the interaction between the visiting public and heritage – arguably this is part emotional response, part intellectual engagement and part financial transaction.

Such interactions are the basis for the “experience economy” and demand a focus on the visitor – who are they, why they visit heritage, what they expect when they get there and what they anticipate getting out of the visit. Understanding these issues provides a guide to the likely sustainability of capital investment and revenue generation projects.

This module takes a pragmatic view of the visitor experience – the “visitor journey” – from car park to admission and accessibility to café and toilets.  Mundane these issues may appear to be, but they shape visitor responses to the heritage being visited more than is commonly admitted. To that end the module explores:

  • Heritage Operations as Service Design
  • Audience / Visitor Profile and Demography
  • The control of admission and flow of visitors - Health & Safety.  Improving access and accessibility
  • The outdoor facilities required to accommodate visitors – car parking, trails, picnic areas etc
  • The indoor facilities required to accommodate visitors – cafés, toilets, changing, etc
  • The role of catering and retail.  Revenue generation
  • Information, interpretation and learning
  • The potential of, and issues around, major events
  • The measurement of visitor engagement and satisfaction

The module then goes on to consider the impact of visitors upon the heritage resource:

  • Measurement of the physical impact of visitors upon heritage assets
  • The conservation implications and appropriate responses
  • Amelioration by strategic management, planning and design

A key overall aim is to improve heritage site management by ensuring the requirements of the visitor journey can be incorporated into strategic, operational and conservation planning.

Module outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the experience economy and the visitor journey in the context of cultural heritage
  2. Illustrate a critical understanding of the services, operations and facilities required to support the needs of visitors across a range of heritage sites and landscapes
  3. Plan for and manage the sympathetic development of services and visitor facilities taking full account of the constraints of heritage context and setting
  4. Critically evaluate the impact of visitors upon the heritage resource and advise how this may be prevented, ameliorated and/or managed through operational planning and the conservation strategy


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework A reflective diary recording the participant’s reactions during extended visits to two heritage sites or museums. 3000 words 100%

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

Key texts

Essential resources:

  • Leask, A. & Yeoman, I (Editors) (2009) Heritage Visitor Attractions: An Operations Management Perspective.  Andover: Cengage Learning. 
  • Chitty, G. & Baker, D.  (eds.) (2013)   Managing Historic Sites and Buildings: Reconciling Presentation and Preservation (Issues in Heritage Management).  Routledge. 

Additional resources:

  • Akwasi Adu-Ampong, Emmanuel (2012) Managing Tourism at Heritage Sites: Insights from the Cape Coast Castle, Ghana.  Lap Lambert Academic Publishing, 92 pages
  • Fyall, A., Garrod, B. & Leask, A.  (Editors) (2008) Managing Visitor Attractions. London: Routledge
  • Barthel-Bouchier, D. (2012) Cultural Heritage and the Challenge of Sustainability.  Walnut Grove: Left Coast Press.  235 pp.
  • Garrod, B., & Fyall, A. (2000). Managing heritage tourism. Annals of tourism research, 27(3), 682-708.
  • Griffiths, A. and Wall, S. (2011) Economics for Business and Management FT/Prentice Hall,
  • Grimwade, G., & Carter, B. (2000). Managing small heritage sites with interpretation and community involvement. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 6(1), 33-48.
  • Hughes, M., & Carlsen, J. (2010). The business of cultural heritage tourism: critical success factors. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 5(1), 17-32.
  • Leask, A., Fyall, A., & Garrod, B. (2002). Heritage visitor attractions: managing revenue in the new millennium. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 8(3), 247-265.
  • Logan, W. & Reeves, K.  (2008) Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing with 'Difficult Heritage' (Key Issues in Cultural Heritage).  London:  Routledge, 304 pages.
  • Masberg, B. A., & Silverman, L. H. (1996). Visitor experiences at heritage sites: a phenomenological approach.  Journal of Travel Research, 34(4), 20-25.
  • McKercher, B. & Du Cros, H. (2014) Cultural Tourism: The Partnership Between Tourism and Cultural Heritage Management. Haworth Hospitality Press, 262 pages, ISBN 0789011050.
  • Okumus, F, Altinay, L, Chathoth, P, K, (2010) Strategic Management for Hospitality and Tourism. London: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann.
  • Swarbrooke, J. & Horner, S. 2007 Consumer Behaviour in Tourism (Second Edition). London: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Tribe, J. (2005) Economics for Leisure and Tourism.  London: Butterworth Heinemann.
  • Woodside, A. Martin, D ed. (2007) Tourism Management: Analysis, Behaviour and Strategy.  OUP.