Cultural Landscapes - MSc

Programme overview

This is an exciting new Masters programme that examines the relationships between people and the landscapes they inhabit. It poses crucial ethical, theoretical and practical questions about the ways landscapes are used and managed in the contemporary world.

The programme blends theories and practices from contemporary art, cultural geography, visual culture, architectural history, art history, conservation and landscape architecture, you’ll discover that our approach is truly interdisciplinary.

As a student you’ll undertake a series of theoretical and practical projects at sites within Edinburgh and further afield, you’ll draw on the expertise of a number of invited speakers and guest lecturers and you’ll tailor the programme by selecting one of four thematic pathways.

Thematic pathways

The pathway you select will determine the optional courses you choose throughout the programme and will give you the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific area of interest. Thematic pathways include: Material Culture, Urban Landscapes, Digital Landscapes and Landscape and Representation.

Develop your research skills

Practical fieldwork features throughout the programme and you’ll have access to a number of field sites including Ian Hamilton Finlay’s acclaimed garden, ‘Little Sparta’.  You’ll use these sites to explore the relationships between culture, history and the environment. They’ll also form the basis of project proposals that you will develop based around, for example, a public art project, an ethnographic field study, a geographical project or a textual anaylsis.

Organise, present and reflect

You’ll take an active role in the development and organisation of a seminar series and colloquium which will involve a series of invited keynote speakers. Using these channels we will explore current theoretical debates on cultural landscape studies. Through blog posts, oral presentations and reflective reports, you’ll demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the topics we examine.

A major research project

The skills you’ll gain throughout the programme will lead you towards the development of a major research project. This might take the form of original research on a topic you select. Alternatively, you might develop a proposal for a site-specific project. Whichever you select, you’ll be supported throughout by your project supervisor.


This programme will deepen you engagement with the landscape. It is ideally suited to those who work in a public/site specific art practice or for those keen to develop their career within heritage management, planning departments, conservation policy or to prepare for doctoral level research.

Top five reasons to choose the programme

  • You’ll tailor the programme by selecting one of four thematic pathways enabling you to specialise in an area of specific interest.
  • You’ll conduct research in local, regional and internationally renowned rural and urban landscapes such as the Orkney Islands, Athens, Berlin, Tallinn, Edinburgh and world renowned artist Ian Hamilton Finlay's ‘Little Sparta’.
  • You will benefit from Edinburgh College of Art's transdisciplinary setting, reflecting the globalised aspects of landscape studies and have opportunities to select optional courses from across the College of Humanities and Social Science.
  • You’ll engage in research with key theorists and practitioners in the field by organising and participating in a symposium on cultural landscapes
  • You’ll be located at the very heart of Edinburgh, a vibrant city of significant cultural and historic renown.


Dr Penny Travlou, Programme Director | View staff profile >


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Photo of a research team meeting
The activities have included a focus group, seminars, walks and discussions
Image courtesy of Medellín Urban Innovation (MUI)

Fieldwork marks the half-way point of two-year, British Council funded project.


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