Case study

MSc Building Conservation and Adaptation — Lizzie Heywood

Find out how a degree in history and an interest in conservation led Lizzie to pursue a postgraduate course at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

Why did you choose this course?

After completing a degree in history I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved historic research in some capacity. My Dad is a conservation officer for a local authority and discussed one of his restoration projects with me. Being able to work on projects like this intrigued me but I knew that conservation is competitive and I'd need extra qualifications.

I discovered that UCLan's MSc in Building Conservation and Adaptation would give me a breadth of knowledge surrounding best practise, conservation philosophy and legislation.

What did you do after graduation?

I got a part-time job and also gained experience in the conservation industry. I volunteered with the heritage team at Blackpool Council and worked closely with the conservation officer and built heritage and conservation manager.

I then got a conservation trainee position with Stockport Council, through the 'Heritage Skills for the Future' programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. In this role I endeavoured to prepare graduates for a career in the heritage sector.

I now work as a conservation adviser for Port Sunlight Village Trust. The conservation team won a Historic England 'Heritage Angels' Award in the 'Best Research Project' category in partnership with Wirral Council in October 2016.

I also sit on the committee for the Conservation Areas Wirral (CAW) group and attend Merseyside Conservation Officers' Group (MCOG) meetings.

What did you enjoy about the MSc?

I was nervous about starting the course, having limited prior technical experience but I shouldn't have worried - the course gives a great introduction to architectural terms and guidance on articles and books that can broaden your knowledge further.

The staff were so friendly, approachable and happy to help. I'd definitely recommend the course to anyone interested in studying building conservation and/or regeneration.

Has your degree had any impact on your current employment?

Without a doubt.

In decision making you need to be able to quote from planning policy and legislation comfortably. The course at UCLan certainly prepared me for this with seminars focusing on the NPPF, the Burra Charter, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and Historic England's 'Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance'.

What are your lasting memories of your time at UCLan?

We actually visited Port Sunlight as part of the course. It was part of our 'history of towns and cities' module; I remember taking a walking tour of the village and learning about the Garden City Movement, alongside Lever's vision for the village.

What advice would you give to graduates?

Make sure you get involved in as many work experience opportunities as possible. Don't be afraid to volunteer, it's the best way to use your new skills and to network with professionals.

Also, don't be scared of rejection, it happens to us all - keep trying and eventually you will succeed.

Lastly, become a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) - there's a discount for student membership and their conferences are a great way to bridge skills gaps and meet like-minded people within the conservation field.

Find out more

  • Discover what you can do with a history degree.

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