Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Advanced professional diploma

Stand out from the crowd with our professional diploma in technical building conservation.


Download a prospectus for more detailed information on the diploma accreditation

Diploma Prospectus


The diploma course is certificated by the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA). Students will be formally enrolled through Forth Valley College.


Full-time:9 months

Part-time:Up to 5 years*


Academic year: August 2019 - May 2020

Monday - Friday



Study time

Taught:40 hours per week over 32 weeks (incl. self study)


For full-time or part-time study.

UK students:£9,780 (and EU students)

International students:£13,500


Looking for a short course that fits in with your work schedule? Choose from our wide range of certificated short courses.

Explore Short Courses

Whether you are a new graduate, an emerging or experienced professional with a background in architecture, engineering, town planning or similar, the Advanced Professional Diploma in Technical Building Conservation is designed with you in mind.

The Engine Shed, part of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) - the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment - has developed this unique diploma in consultation with heritage experts to fill a gap in practical conservation training in Scotland.

Gain new specialist skills and knowledge

The Advanced Professional Diploma offers you the opportunity to gain insight and develop skills related to technical building conservation; all of which could open up for you a specialist career in the heritage sector.

In undertaking the Diploma you will not only benefit from the experience and knowledge of both national and international industry experts, but through hands-on workshops and site visits to historic buildings or monuments, you will consider theoretical applications more practically. 

What you can expect

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be taught the skills to:

  • understand the issues underpinning the successful practice of architectural conservation in Scotland
  • evaluate the historical context and cultural significance of a traditional building, site, element or historic fabric
  • perform condition assessments of materials and buildings and analyse decay mechanisms, deterioration and failure
  • work within the legislative and public policy framework of heritage management
  • select appropriate, site-specific methods of conservation, surveying, improving energy efficiency and other alterations
  • develop research strategies
  • create and follow a programme of work repairs and project manage this to a successful completion
  • evaluate the use, function and performance on technology in conservation

Join us at the Engine Shed

The diploma will be held at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre. Based in Stirling, it serves as a central hub for building and conservation professionals and the general public.

*You can complete the diploma over a maximum of five years


Course content

Unit 1: Conservation in Context

Get an overview of the basic principles and traditions that underpin architectural conservation, with an emphasis on those particular to Scotland.

Duration 13 weeks
Dates 28 August - 12 December 2019

Credits 35
Taught hours 36 days

This unit covers the following modules:

  • Scottish architectural traditions

    Discover the history of Scotland's architectural styles and construction technologies from the prehistoric period to the Modern Movement in the 20th century.

  • Building fabric and function

    Get an introduction to traditional Scottish building methods and a materials and how the separate elements of building fabric interact and function as a whole.

  • Conservation principles and ethics

    Study the concept of cultural significance and the evolution of the heritage movement in Scotland. Explore the principles and ethics governing the management of the historic built environment.

  • Conservation policy and planning

    Learn about the main policy drivers affecting building conservation today. Discover the process of scheduling monuments and designating and appraising conservation areas.

  • Sustainability and adaptation in the historic environment

    From climate change to the adaptive re-use of traditional buildings, examine the impact that the wider environment and economy has on policy and decision-making in heritage conservation.

  • Documentation of the historic environment

    Learn the many techniques of architectural documentation. Discover the conventional and new technologies used to record Scotland's built heritage.

  • Project design and management

    Gain an understanding of the overarching framework used by professionals for conservation projects, from client briefings to aftercare.

Unit 2: Masonry, Limes and Cements

This unit covers the core materials of Scotland's built environment. Students will learn their historic use, best practice in their repair and conservation, and innovation in the research and use of these materials today.

Duration 28 weeks
Dates 9 September 2019 - 24 March 2020

Credits 38
Taught hours 34 days

This unit covers the following modules:

  • Stone conservation

    Explore the use of stone as a key element of Scotland’s historic built environment, from prehistory to the present day, including its essential geology, material characteristics and industrial production.

  • Fired earth conservation

    Get to grips with fired earth in traditional buildings. Learn about its uses, properties, weathering and decay processes, and conservation and repair techniques.

  • Unfired earth conservation

    Unfired earth construction is an ancient practice with obscure origins. In this short course, learn more about how this material was used in Scotland's traditional buildings.

  • Mortars, plasters, and renders

    Gain a historic overview of the development and use of mortars, plasters and renders in traditional Scottish buildings. Discover their development and use today, and learn about innovations.

  • Historic cement and concrete conservation

    Examine the recent traditions of cement, gypsum and lime concrete construction in Scotland's built environment, and the practical conservation issue surrounding this important traditional building material.

Unit 3: Structures and Finishes

Get a comprehensive overview of the variety of structures and finishes of Scotland's traditional buildings, including ironwork, claddings and coatings. Learn how to assess cultural significance, decay or failure, and discover best practice in conservation methods.

Duration 10 weeks
Dates 8 January 2019 - 8 April 2020

Credits 34
Taught hours 34 days

This unit covers the following modules:

  • Conservation of metals

    Explore the main issues associated with the manufacture and use of ferrous metals in Scotland’s built environment, from wrought and cast iron technology, to corrugated iron sheeting and steel.

  • Historic glass and glazing conservation

    Learn about the physical nature of historic glass and glazing, its significance in Scotland's historic buildings and how it interacts with these structures.

  • Conservation of surface finishes

    Discover the history and conservation of a range of internal and external surface finishes traditionally used on Scotland’s historic buildings. Study the science behind paints and coatings and the complex issues involved in the conservation of historic finishes today.

  • Conservation of timberwork

    Learn about the properties, use and conservation of one of Scotland's most widely used building materials. This course will cover the biology, variety, decay mechanisms and sourcing of timber in traditional buildings.

  • Traditional roof repairs

    Discover the principal materials used to construct and cover Scottish traditional roofs. Explore the appearance, performance and deterioration of traditional roofing materials.

Unit 4: Final project

The Final Project requires students the adopt the role of a conservation professional in a scenario to rescue a building at risk. This unit cannot be taken independently.

Duration 6 weeks
Dates 20 April - 29 May 2020

Credits 21

This unit covers the following modules:

  • Diploma final project

    Working as part of a small team, diploma students will take on an intensive six-week case study project. Teams bring their learning to life to address the conservation challenges for an important historic building.


Diploma applicants (full or part-time) should have a relevant honours degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline (e.g. architecture, surveying, engineering, geography, town planning).

Relevant professional experience, qualifications or institute membership may be accepted in lieu of a degree. Each application will be assessed individually with equal consideration. 

Individual short courses can be studied independently and are open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. These courses are not accredited, but students will be provided a certificate as proof of CPD on successful completion of their course.

Programme delivery

The diploma programme will be delivered through lectures and tutorials, labwork, workshops and site visits. Students will receive a solid theoretical understanding of technical building conservation, supported by practical, hands-on experience.

What our students say