Combining theory with practice

The MA program in sustainable heritage management (SHM) at Aarhus University provides you with the knowledge and competencies needed to meet the multiple challenges of contemporary heritage policy, management and research.

Working with cultural and natural heritage means being conscious of, and taking responsibility for, the links between humans, our environment, and what remains from the past. We acknowledge that heritage is also an integral part of the present and a potential resource for the future.

The Sustainable Management program equips you, through engaging with theory and best practice, with the skills necessary to work in the exciting, expanding and increasingly complex field of heritage. You will be trained in a uniquely interdisciplinary environment to understand, designate, assess, retain and sustain heritage and to develop, revise and innovate the future shapes of the sector.

In your second year of the Sustainable Management program, you have the option to apply and develop your knowledge and skills in practice through an internship; so far our students have gained experience in areas as diverse as archives, museums, cultural agencies, historical reenactment, television, and cultural institutes interning around the world including in Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the UK, the Caribbean, South Korea, and Bali. In the final semester, you will specialize, with an appropriate supervisor, to complete a substantial piece of research on an area of heritage that most interests you.

Heritage as resource

The Sustainable Heritage Management program qualifies you to analyze and ethically respond to the demands of heritage work, providing not only a sophisticated intellectual framework but also a practice-based set of skills. You will learn to tackle the future challenges of heritage management on local and global scales. The questions and challenges are manifold:

  • What is heritage and what is not?
  • How do we register, prioritise and protect heritage for future generations?
  • How can civil societies engage responsibly in the management of heritage?
  • How do we deal with contested and contrasting claims to heritage and sites?
  • How do we manage heritage projects so they are appropriate in form and scale and can be completed in a timely fashion?
  • How do we co-create and communicate heritage in sustainable ways, creating long-lasting value for cultural institutions, creative industries and for societies and individuals?

A highly interdisciplinary field

Heritage studies and heritage management is a highly interdisciplinary field, involving utilizing methodologies and approaches from various disciplines. The Sustainable Management program at Aarhus University is anchored in an interdisciplinary research environment that includes engaging with scholars who work in archaeology, anthropology, geography, intellectual history, aesthetics, museology, cultural studies, and digital design.

Thus, during your studies, you will not only work with material forms of cultural heritage, but also with textual data, intangible culture and, not least, people and their various perceptions of heritage. The program revolves around and intersects with the revamped Moesgaard Museum (situated south of Aarhus), affording unique collaborative opportunities for students and staff in this university-museum environment.

Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degrees in the following subjects qualify applicants for the Master’s degree program in sustainable heritage management:

  • History (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark)
  • European ethnology (University of Copenhagen)
  • Prehistoric archaeology (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen – legal entitlement to admission), medieval and renaissance archaeology (Aarhus University – legal entitlement to admission), classical archaeology (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen), Assyriology (University of Copenhagen), near-oriental archaeology (University of Copenhagen), Archaeology (Aarhus University).
  • Eskimology (University of Copenhagen)
  • Art history (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen)
  • Anthropology (Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen), international development studies (Roskilde University)
  • Geography with the focus on the cultural environment (Roskilde University)
  • Architecture
  • Other Bachelor’s degree programs generating at least 45 ECTS credits in the field of cultural heritage (for instance museology, cultural presentation or administration) may qualify applicants for admission based on an individual assessment

Other qualifications can provide admission to the Master’s degree program, provided the university assesses that their level, extent, and content correspond to the degrees mentioned above.

Language requirements

English at B level at upper-secondary school or the equivalent is a requirement for admission.

English requirements

All applicants with a non-Danish qualifying degree to English language Master's degree programs must document English language qualifications identical or comparable with an 'English B level' in the Danish upper secondary school ('gymnasium').

English language qualifications identical or comparable with an 'English B level' in Denmark can be documented as follows:

  • English B level (Danish upper secondary school level)
  • TOEFL:
    English B – Test result of at least 560 (paper-based) or 83 (internet-based)
    The paper-based test must have a “total score”. From summer admission 2019, AU no longer accepts the paper-based test.
    Aarhus University does not accept the TOEFL ITP test.
    When you sign up for a TOEFL test, you must request the test center to add Aarhus University as a recipient of your test result in order for us to verify your test result. The Aarhus University TOEFL code is 8935.
  • IELTS:
    English B – IELTS Academic test result of at least 6.5 points
    From summer admission 2020, the 6.5 score must be equivalent of C1 level on your test result. 6.5/B2 level is no longer accepted.
  • Cambridge ESOL examinations
    English B – Cambridge English Advanced (grades A, B and C) or Cambridge English First (grade A) or 180 points as a minimum on the Cambridge English Scale.
    Applicants must upload their Confirmation of Entry stating candidate ID number and candidate secret number, which are not stated on the test result itself.
  • CEFR validated English language test
    English B – C1 level
    From summer admission 2019, AU no longer accepts the C1 level as sole documentation. We refer to other types of possible documentation.

Selection criteria

As the Master’s program only admits 35 students each year from 2018, meeting the admission requirements does not in itself guarantee admission to the program.

(The number of seats is a guideline only and may be subject to changes by the university).

If more qualified applicants apply than the number of available places, the qualified applicants will be prioritised according to the following criteria:

  • Average mark for all courses on a qualifying Bachelor’s degree program at the time of application.
  • Average mark for relevant courses on a qualifying Bachelor’s degree program at the time of application.
  • Statement of relevance (1-2 pages in English) which should explain 1) the academic relevance of your Bachelor’s degree in relation to the Master’s program in Sustainable Heritage Management; 2) which individual courses of your Bachelor’s program meet the admission requirements for the Master’s program in Sustainable Heritage Management; 3) relevant experience pertinent to the Master’s degree program besides formal academic qualifications.

Student life

The Sustainable Heritage Management program is based at the Department of Archaeology at Moesgaard, an eighteenth-century manor house newly equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that also houses the Department of Anthropology. Here you will have access to a library, computers, a common room, lounges, and a cafeteria, as well as the internationally renowned archaeology and anthropology museum, MOMU and the surrounding hundred hectares of beautiful fields and woodlands leading down to the sea.

You also have plenty of opportunities to take an active part in student life at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies:

  • Hikuin is the main association for students at the department. It organises academic discussions about your studies and contact with the business community, not to mention the legendary Friday bars and a number of social initiatives.
  • The degree program is also associated with DALF union (the National Association of Danish Archaeology Students), which safeguards the interests of archaeology students. This association establishes relations between students of archaeology at different Danish universities.

In addition, there are many other events for students at the Faculty of Arts and Aarhus University in general – e.g. lectures, intro days, career days, seminars, celebrations and sports days.

Competencies and job perspectives

Graduates in Sustainable Heritage Management are qualified for a number of job markets and industries, depending on area of interest and specialisation. Recent graduates are working in the community, museum and archival sectors, in planning and development agencies, and in bodies within resource management and capacity building, as well as in tourism and the artistic and creative industries.

Many of the challenges that you will be trained to meet are transnational and international in scope. Here are some of the fields SHM graduates typically go into:

  • In the museum, library and archival sectors, graduates take up positions related to the responsible handling, conservation and safeguarding of finds and sites, as well as in more outreach-oriented roles on innovative, inclusive and user-centred communication strategies and schemes.
  • In planning and resource management positions, both in the public and the private sectors, the SHM graduate is well-equipped to act in project management roles that demand the balance and negotiation between various stakeholders and interest groups.
  • In the development and capacity building sector, including the not-for-profit sector, the toolkit of holistic and interdisciplinary competencies of SHM graduates equips you to handle sensitive and complex issues, such as land claims and other tensions related to differing perspectives and uses of the past.
  • In tourism and the creative industries (increasingly related to and overlapping with the sectors described above) graduates utilise their skills in managing and developing sites and businesses in ways that combine growth with planning for a sustainable future.

Furthermore, an MA in sustainable heritage management qualifies students who wish to pursue a research career to apply to PhD programs at Aarhus University or elsewhere, an option that may include collaboration with national or international institutions, organizations or private companies.

Program taught in:
Aarhus University

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Last updated April 20, 2019
Start Date
Sep 2019
4 semesters
8,000 EUR
per year, non-EU/EEA students. All EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are exempt from payment of tuition fees.
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