South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Interview: Dr Bryony Onciul and Dr Jamie Hampson from the University of Exeter discuss heritage management and consultancy

Ahead of the start of the University of Exeter's new MA in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, Dr Bryony Onciul and Dr Jamie Hampson talked to us about the new course and the field of consultancy. Last week, we heard about the topic of international heritage management (if you missed that blog post, you can read it by clicking here). This interview follows on from that.

Why might someone want to work in consultancy?

Bryony Onciul: Heritage is a diverse field, and while we are all aware of the jobs available in heritage bodies such as Historic England, English Heritage, and the National Trust, there is a growing field of opportunity for heritage consultants. This ranges from individuals who act as consultants, providing bespoke pieces of research and work for clients who may include museums, heritage organizations, art galleries, and science centers, such as Emmie Kell Consulting; to companies of consultants who offer a body of expertise, such as Cotswold Archaeology who specialize in heritage and archaeology.

There are also permanent professional roles in non-heritage organizations that are also called 'heritage consultants'. This may be a few individuals or a team of heritage consultants working in the private sector, a blue chip company, a think tank, NGO or charity. For example, Atkins is an international design, engineering and project management consultancy that has a dedicated heritage team that 'assists business, industry, and government in meeting regulatory permitting and compliance requirements when a project impacts or has the potential to impact historically significant cultural resources’.

Heritage consultants get to work on a great diversity of projects making their daily working exciting, innovative and rewarding. It is a great way to gain a portfolio of experience and skills, working locally, nationally or internationally.

Can you tell us a bit about the new PG programmes in International Heritage Management and Consultancy on offer at University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus from September 2018?

Bryony Onciul: Yes. Our new MA (Masters), MRes (Masters by Research), PgDip (Postgraduate Diploma) and PgCert (Postgraduate Certificate) programmes offer a range of ways to get involved in further education and enrich your skill set to move up into management positions and/or diversity into consultancy roles. The programmes are unique in the way they are interdisciplinary, with teaching being delivered from academics in the disciplines of History, English, Geography, Politics, Law, The Business School, and Renewable Energies. It is informed by leading-edge theory from academics and bodies such as the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and enriched by innovative practice provided by our Industry Advisory Group (the IAG includes: Historic England, National Trust, World Heritage UK, Survival International, Cornwall Museum Partnership, Cotswold Archaeology, and Atkins).

It is innovative in the delivery of the teaching, with the embedding of multiple guest speakers from a range of heritage professions, and fieldtrips on almost every taught module, field classes, and an included international field course module to west coast Canada. This enables the exploration of theory and practice in-situ and build's students' professional networks in the UK and overseas. The programme is vocational, offering work placements, research projects and practical assessments such as report writing, project proposals, community engagement plans. But it is also a great basis from which to launch a PhD or go into research.

The programme is based in Penryn, on our Cornwall Campus, but is international in focus. So it draws upon the rich heritage of the SW, but places it into a national and global context. This enriches the learning and the career opportunities for graduates (for more information click here).


Student stands on the beach looking at the camera, with the sea and St Michaels Mount in the background on a sunny day.


What themes will the programme engage with?

Bryony Onciul: We have three main themes that are threaded through the modules on the programme. They consider heritage as a lens through which we can study some of the key challenges of our time:

1. Decolonizing and Indigenizing Heritage - this comes from my and Jamie's research and is also a key driver of innovation and reform in international heritage practice. This means taking a holistic approach to heritage, considering natural and cultural, tangible and intangible heritage. It also means addressing difficult histories, truth and reconciliation, and understanding different approaches to caring for the past for the future.

2. Sustainability, Climate Change and the Anthropocene - again this comes from my research and that of colleagues such as Prof. Caitlin DeSilvey in Geography. Climate change is a priority issue for members of our Industry Advisory Group, such as Historic England and National Trust. Heritage must be managed in the context of accelerated environmental and coastal change. The past can also be utilised to inform how we think about risk, loss and the future.

3. Conflict - this is an all-encompassing term, as we will consider heritage that is threatened by large scale warfare, through to heritage that is effected on the more micro-level of conflict between stakeholders and interpretative narratives.

These themes will help us think though current challenges, and consider the role of heritage today and in the future.

Are there any scholarships available?

Jamie Hampson: Yes, in fact there are four scholarships available!

1. 4 x Global Excellence Scholarship £2,500 for international students
2. 4 x Global Excellence Scholarship £2,500 for 1st class home students
3. Unlimited £1000 Progression Scholarship for current students
4. Unlimited £1000 Scholarship for 2018 (which can be used in addition to #3) for applicants who pay their deposit within 4 weeks of being made an offer.

Can heritage organizations get involved?

Bryony Onciul: Yes, we welcome organizations in the SW to get involved with the programme. There are opportunities to:

- take a student on a one month placement in your organisation
- set a one month research project for a student to complete acting as a consultant for your organisation
- give a guest talk on our programme, showcasing your role, expertise, or an aspect of your work
- host a fieldtrip to your heritage site, museum, gallery, or organisation

Please email me on b.a.onciul@exeter.ac.uk to discuss ideas and options.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.

Our pleasure!

For more information about the new MA in International Heritage Management and Consultancy, please visit the University of Exeter website here.

Dr Bryony Onciul is Director of the MA International Heritage Management and Consultancy and a Senior Lecturer in Public History at the University of Exeter. Dr Jamie Hampson is a Senior Lecturer in Heritage.