Personal profile

Research interests


Professor Marion Harney studied English at the University of Bristol, then completed her MPhil and PhD at the University of Bath. She is Professor of Building & Landscape Conservation, Associate Dean Education in the Faculty of Engineering Design, Academic Lead of the Curriculum Transformation Project Group, University Athnea SWAN Lead, Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster and former External Examiner at the University of London.  She was appointed as Chair of the UNESCO doubly inscribed Bath World Heritage Site Advisory Board in 2024.

Marion devised the postgraduate degree course in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes and was Director of Studies for its duration (2007-14). Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and former Director of Teaching in ACE, and former Director of Studies MSc Conservation of Historic Buildings, Marion is the University Project Lead for Curriculum Transformation and is also involved in CT development at Faculty and Departmental level and in the design, development, and delivery of unique, highly respected specialist vocational programmes that enable students to become independent and competent practitioners equipped to resolve Global issues.

In 2013 she was invited to become a Trustee of the Gardens Trust, the statutory consultee for all registered landscapes in the UK, and is former Chair of their Conservation Committee. Marion was appointed to National Trust Council in 2015, their Historic Environment Advisory Group and Specialist Advisory network in 2016, and Peer Reviewer for the National Trust Funding Scheme in 2019. She used to represent The Gardens Trust on the Joint Committee National Amenities Society (JCNAS), and National Trust Council, member of the multi-organisational Project Board, 'Bathscape' 2014 and former Chair (2014-18), of the Landscape Partnership Project Board of local, regional and national partner organisations which was awarded £1.8 Million HLF Funding Bathscape to reconnect people and communities with Baths unique landscape setting in ways that benefit people, communities and heritage.

A member of Bath World Heritage Site Advisory Group since 2007 she was appointed Chair in 2024 and leads a team of 28 organisations who share responsibility for overseeing the development, production and implementation of the City of Bath of WHS Management Plan and the Integration of the Great Spas of Europe Management Plan. Marion is an active member of ICOMOS-UK Cultural Landscapes and Historic Gardens Committee which oversees the cultural landscape dimension of World Heritage Sites and is a member of the Conservation Course Directors’ Forum and a former Trustee at Hestercombe Gardens Trust. In the recent past she has been a member and Chair of the Judging Panel for the Landscape Institute Awards in the Conservation and Heritage Category.


Marion’s main research interests are the history and theory of historic buildings, cultural heritage, designed and cultural landscapes, World Heritage Sites and their conservation, with a particular interest in eighteenth century architecture, landscape and literature and how literature reflects and shapes the way in which we see the landscape and the environment. Marion’s book Place-Making for the Imagination: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, (Surrey, 2013) won the prestigious international John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize for 2015 which recognises books that have made significant contributions to the study and understanding of garden history and landscape studies, awarded by The Foundation for Landscape Studies, New York. She has also undertaken significant editorial duties for a commissioned Wiley Blackwell book. Gardens and Landscapes in Historic Building Conservation, (ed.) (Oxford, 2014) which incorporates original research material and contains a series of innovative professional, up-to-date case studies and its publication as an essential resource for conservation students and professional practice. She writes extensively on current conservation issues, practices and themes. Marion regularly contributes to the International EAAE thmatic network on Conservation which leads on conservation issues internationally.

In collaboration with colleagues she played a lead role in developing internationally renowned research into the application of Computer Aided Design techniques to inform traditional scholarship in the field of architectural history, achieving demonstrable impact in REF 2014 in the public understanding of architecture. Much of her historical research has underpinned the use of computer models developed in CASA to visualise and analyse important historic buildings and rural and urban landscapes. In some cases the digital reconstruction provides the only means by which they could be reconstructed, analysed and assessed, or in some cases regressed to recover a particular period in their development. Sole researcher for the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Bath, Yale University Press (2003) she engages in sustained knowledge exchange; technology-transfer; public engagement and research impact activities with non-academic external national and international organisations such as; National Trust, English Heritage, Historic England, Electronic Visualisation and the Arts; the Sorbonne; Dublin and numerous Bath-based initiatives. Technology-transfer activities luesed to collaborations with National Trust on Engineering Doctorates (co-funded between the Trust and EPSRC) piloting the use of digital technology in ‘real-life’, heritage sites.

She has an established track record of giving presentations and organising conferences with national and international participation, recently in collaboration with ICOMOS-UK ‘Capability’ Brown, perception and response in a global context, University of Bath (September 2016). Marion peer-reviewed the papers which were published in a special edition of Garden History in 2016.

Invited to participate in 4 major AHRC funded research networks with leading universities (Exeter, Stirling, Sheffield, Reading), her chapter for the Stirling research network, ‘Conserving Britain’s Ruins, 1700 to the Present Day’, in Reading Architecture Across the Arts and Humanities: Writing Britain's Ruins, 1700-1850, was published by the British Library (2017)  a podcast of the Chapter was released in November 2022. She also delivered a public lecture at Strawberry Hill in May 2016 as part of the network outputs and gave a presentation to the National Trust South West Leaders Programme on 'Conflicts in Conservation, Managing Change'. Marion has recently given invited lectures at  a special session of IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects) in South Korea (2022) the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (BSECS) in Oxford and the International Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ISECS) in Edinburgh, in addition to academic and public lectures and seminars including an invited speaker for the Prokalò Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh and for the Gardens Trust in their regional lecture series at the Museum of Bath Architecture in Bath on its Eighteenth Century Pleasure Gardens (2019).  A regular participant and author for the EAAE Thematic Network on Conservation, including Workshop V. Conservation/adaptation, Keeping alive the spirit of the place: adaptive reuse of heritage with ‘symbolic value’ her research paper, ‘Genius loci restored: the challenge of adaptive re-use’, was published in 2017, and her chapter 'Conservation and Cultural Tourism: Conflicts and Resolutions' in Workshop V1, Conservation/Consumption: Preserving the Tangible and Intangible Values was published in Sept 2019 and Creating the Palimpsest City and Cultural Complexity: Learning from Bath (2021) Workshop VII. An invited contribution to the special tercentenary edition of Image & Narrative on Horace Walpole; ‘The visualisation of Strawberry Hill: a collusion of history and imagination’ was published in 2017 and a further invited chapter, 'Theatres of the Imagination: Strawberry Hill and Fonthill Abbey', will be published in Horace Walpole's Styles, a special tercentenary edition for Liverpool University Press, is publishing in 2024.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Place Making for the Imagination: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

Master of Philosophy, Pope and Prior Park: an essay in landscape and literature, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Bachelor of Arts, English Literature, University of Bristol

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000


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