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Online PGDip in Parish Church Studies

A course on the history, heritage and fabric of English parish churches at the University of York
delivered in association with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT)



Studying the English Parish Church can be one of the most enriching pursuits in academia. A physical embodiment of religion, popular devotion, community, economy and government, these institutions encapsulate the very history of the British Isles. At the University of York, you can do just that. The only course of its kind, the two-year, part-time ONLINE Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Parish Church Studies: History, Heritage and Fabric is delivered in association with The Churches Conservation Trust is open to applications.

Covering the spread of Christianity from the Age of the Venerable Bede, right through to the role of the church today, the programmes offers an unparalleled opportunity to gain detailed and practical knowledge of the history, use, care and conservation of the English parish church. We consider the controversial exploits of the Victorian movements then journey all the way back to the Break with Rome, and how it impacted communities at grass-roots level. We also travel back again to unravel liturgy, and how it aided the development of ecclesiastical architecture, and forward to consider how those buildings (and their immediate environment: the churchyard) may be used, reused, managed and maintained in what is arguably a difficult religious climate.



The interdisciplinary nature of the diploma, originally devised in association with The Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture & My-Parish, means it really does have something for everyone. From art and architecture to conservation, to the communities that have shaped and been shaped by the church – even to the legislation that governs and the evidence that survives. In equal measure, the programme introduces the skills and resources you will need for academic work at postgraduate level, from analytical rigour, independent thought, and clear communication, meaning you will be well prepared for the world of work or further research.

As noted, a very special aspect of the course is its partnership with The Churches Conservation Trust which allows you exclusive access to local CCT sites, membership, key resources, and further opportunities for valuable work placements within the Trust. We are extremely proud of this partnership as it provides our students with a unique set of skills and prospects – it really does have it all!



The online component allows you to undertake the course from anywhere in the world and, most importantly, to be flexible with your studies allowing you to complete work around your schedule, all the while supported by expert staff who will challenge you to think creatively and independently, and provide participation in a lively yet scholarly online community. We have introduced many ways that allow you to interact with both your tutor and your fellow students, such as the ‘virtual refectory’. There are also specialist resources provided by expert lecturers, as well as hosted virtual lectures and seminars which are a wonderful opportunity for all to get together “face to face” (even if some are at the other side of the world), and regular phone and Skyping opportunities for one-to-one tutorials, so a real mix of platforms — by no means is this simply reading a screen and responding. There are a whole host of ways you will be networking, virtually studying and exploring new ways to learn about churches.

You will emerge as a well-rounded researcher ready to pursue graduate careers in a variety of sectors including history, planning, heritage, the museums sector, the Church, teaching, public history, archives or Masters/doctoral level research.

Finally, there is an optional residential school held within York which allows you to get together and meet your peers, mingle with experts (including CCT staff) and, of course, visit some wonderful churches (including evensong at magnificent York Minster – what more could you ask for?!).

Current students even have their very own Parish Church Studies website: The blog, written and curated by students for prospective applicants and all other simply interested parties, gives you with a real taste of the programme, how it offers an unparalleled opportunity to gain detailed and practical knowledge of the history of the parish church and the ideal environment for discussion and debate. The website also offers information on relevant conferences, external courses, and things of interest.

The PGDip in Parish Church Studies starts in late September, concurrent with each new academic year – places are limited to ensure a constructive atmosphere for discussions. To apply, visit: or contact the Programme Director, Dr Emma Wells.