Certificate of Higher Education in Historic Building Conservation

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Madingley Hall
Madingley Hall

This two-year University of Cambridge award is intended as an introduction to the philosophy, history, materials and practice of historic building conservation.

The course is taught by means of lectures, visits and field trips across East Anglia to view buildings and practitioners at work. Lectures take place at Madingley Hall, a 16th-century manor house set in seven acres of landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown.

What will I be studying?

The evolution of buildings from medieval to modern times runs as a thread through the course and you will receive guidance on identification, recording and development of appropriate conservation strategies. The objectives are:

  • To understand the development of the philosophy and ethics of conservation and the legislation that protects the historic environment.
  • To survey, record and analyse the development of historic buildings through the examination of their materials, construction and style.
  • To learn practical techniques for conservation, repair and restoration, with the opportunity to experience the use of traditional materials.

First year topics

  • Philosophy of conservation
  • Analytical and recording techniques
  • Vernacular architecture
  • Architectural history 1000–1600
  • Introduction to building crafts and construction
  • Earth buildings
  • Woodland management and timber selection
  • Timber structures
  • Thatch and thatching
  • Stone buildings

Second year topics

  • Architectural history 1600–2000
  • The development of conservation legislation
  • Building defects and pathology
  • Stone roofs
  • Bricks and brick making
  • Flint and rubble
  • Timber repairs
  • Stone repairs
  • Brick repairs and repointing
  • Conservation Appraisals, Statements and Plans

How will I be taught and assessed?

The course is made up of approximately 180 hours of class contact time over two years. Teaching is carried out in two-hour evening sessions over 30 weeks of the year. There are field excursions each year (approximately four a term except for the first term). These usually take place on Saturdays or Sundays but may occasionally be during working hours.

You are expected to take an active part in the course and submit work showing evidence of learning, including:

  • assignments of 2,000–3,000 words each
  • a dissertation of 5,000 words
  • a field notebook
  • student presentations.

Teaching staff

The Course Director is Robert Parkinson MSc (Oxon), MScEcon (Lond), Dip Arch RIBA, (SCA), IHBC FSA, Historic Buildings Architect - English Heritage. Robert is experienced in the many areas of building conservation, and guest lecturers are invited to cover specialist subjects.

Entry requirements

No previous qualifications are necessary, but some knowledge and a definite interest in the subject are needed. You should be willing to participate in practical work.

Students who have physical disabilities or suffer from allergies or phobias are welcome on the course. However, there will be some places (eg roofs, cellars, scaffolding) where access may be difficult.

Please be aware that the course is taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If English is not your first language, we will need evidence of your competence in the English language before we can confirm that you have a place.

Credit rating

The course is rated at 120 points at FHEQ 4 (first year undergraduate level) in the national Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). Under this scheme, students may transfer credit achieved into the degree programmes of other universities, including the Open University.


The course lectures take place on Monday evenings at 7.15 – 9.15pm from 3 October 2011 at Madingley Hall, a Grade I listed building and the headquarters of the Institute of Continuing Education.


The fee for this two-year course is £2,400 (£1,200 per year). The fee covers the provision of duplicated and photocopied documents, but does not include students’ travelling expenses for field excursions, entry fees or meals.

Yearly fees can be paid in three interest-free instalments, as an alternative to paying in full when you enrol.

How to apply

You can apply for this course online using the 'Book online now' link at the top of this page. The Institute will also accept applications on paper and you can print out the PDF below, fill it in and post it to us with your fee at the address given on the right-hand side of this page. We will let you know as soon as possible whether you have a place on the course.

The deadline for submitting your completed application is 16 September 2011. Early application is recommended as places are limited.

Find out more

Full course details, including the syllabus and reading list, will be available via this website soon.

For all enquiries, contact the Academic Programme Manager, Dr Liz Morfoot: awards@ice.cam.ac.uk or 01223 746226 / 01223 746237.


pdf Application form

pdf Year 1 timetable

pdf Course specification year 1


This course carries credit points under the nationally recognised Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS). We offer a flexible, part-time route to academic qualification. For further details see the section ' Qualifications and awards'.

Unless otherwise stated, teaching and assessment for ICE courses are in English. Students whose first language is not English should refer to the Competence in the English Language Policy for further guidance.

Printable versions of our brochures are available to download from the Institute Publications page.

Bursaries available

You could be eligible for one of the following bursary awards:

  • Ivy Rose Hood Memorial Bursary (£500) – if you are over 22 and applying to study at university level for the first time.
  • James Stuart Bursary (£125) – if you are applying to study at the Institute of Continuing Education for the first time.
  • Cambridge University Press (CUP) Bursary (£200) – if you teach at a UK state school or state-funded further education institution.

Find out more about bursary funding

Pre-enrolment information

Information about studying with ICE

Apply now

To book on this course please contact us:

Write to us

Dr Liz Morfoot
Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

Call us

+44 (0)1223 746226 / 746418

Email us

Course details

Start date

3 October 2011 (19:15)

End date

31 July 2013 (21:15)

Course code



2 years


Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

Teaching sessions

Meetings: 30

Qualifications / Credits

120 credits at FHEQ4

Course director