Digital Preservation

The 21st century information professional needs to be equipped to develop strategies to deal with the continuing access to digital material.  The complex issue of maintaining digital continuity requires an understanding of both the administrative and technical issues involved.

The module is intended to provide you with the theoretical knowledge and skills you require to develop and administer a digital preservation programme. The drivers for digital preservation will be considered, including the evidential role digital records can play in business administration and court cases. An understanding of the challenges involved in preserving different digital formats, along with composite, compound or constantly updated material will be established. The characteristics of digital objects are explored in detail with reference to: their significant properties; the relationship between content and metadata; and the need to preserve links between the associated parts. The use of models and standards, such as the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model and the OAIS Reference Model, to develop administrative and technical strategies will be examined, along with case studies from international projects and research groups. The role of support agencies such as the Digital Curation Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition, in pushing forward the digital preservation agenda, will be examined. We will reflect upon the role of institutional repositories and the developments in the open access movement and how they can support long-term digital preservation.


Sarah Higgins MA(Hons) , DAA, FHEA — Lecturer in Information Studies. Sarah previously worked for the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) at the University of Edinburgh where she provided advice on the lifecycle management of data, and the standards applicable to this. A qualified archivist she was previously in the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services Group, where she worked in a number of IT implementation teams across both the Library and the Archives. These involved implementing archival cataloguing, managing digitisation and the introduction of digital repositories.  With degrees in Geography and Cartography she was previously Geographic Information Research Officer for the British Antarctic Survey and Secretary to the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee. Before this she worked in cartographic research and digitisation positions for various local authorities and utilities companies. She also spent several years working as a self-employed stage designer.

Sarah is co-editor of Archives and Records, the Journal of the Archives and Records Association (ARA)

Her research is in: Digital Curation, Digital Preservation, Digital Lifecycle Management, Digital Delivery and Discovery, and her publications include:

  • Higgins, S. (2016). Data modelling for analysis, discovery and retrieval. In A. E. Foster & P. Rafferty (Eds.), Managing Digital Cultural Objects: Analysis, discovery and retrieval. London, UK: Facet Publishing.
  • Higgins, S., Hilton, C. & Dafis, L.L., 2014. Archives context and discovery: rethinking arrangement and description for the digital age. In 2nd annual conference of the International Council on Archives, 11-15 October 2014, Girona, Spain. Girona. Available at:
  • Bunn, J., & Higgins, S. (2013). Mainstreaming Digital Curation: An overview of activity in the UK archives and records management profession. In C. Cirinna, K. Fernie, & M. Lunghi (Eds.), Proceedings of the Framing the Digital Curation Curriculum Conference, Florence, Italy, 6-7 May, 2013. DigCurV Project. Retrieved from
  • Higgins, S. (2013). Digital curation: The challenge driving convergence across memory institutions. In L. Duranti & E. Shaffer (Eds.), The Memory of the World in the Digital age: Digitization and Preservation: An international conference on permanent access to digital documentary heritage, Vancouver, Canada, 26-28 September 2012 (pp. 607–623). Vancouver, Canada: UNESCO. Retrieved from
  • Gresham, E., & Higgins, S. (2012). Improving browsability of archive catalogues using Web 2.0. Library Review, 61(5), 309–326. doi:10.1108/00242531211280450
  • Higgins, S. (2012). The lifecycle of data management. In G. Pryor (Ed.), Managing research data. Facet Publishing.
  • Higgins, S. (2011). Digital curation: the emergence of a new discipline. The International Journal of Digital Curation, 6(2), 78-88.
  • Higgins, S. (2009). DCC DIFFUSE Standards Frameworks: A standards path through the Curation Lifecycle. The International Journal of Digital Curation, 4(2), 60-67.
  • Higgins, S., 2008. The DCC curation lifecycle model. The International Journal of Digital Curation, 3(1), pp.134–140. Available at:


An interest in digital information, and its long-term management for access and use.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this short course you should be able to:

  • provide an analytical, contextual account of the development of digital preservation as a 21st century information issue;
  • identify and critically evaluate the characteristics of digital objects, justify the need to preserve each characteristic for continued access and develop a strategy for digital preservation;
  • propose methods for developing and maintaining control over a complex array of digital forms and formats, which address the necessary conditions, techniques and models for digital preservation;
  • formulate rational hypotheses regarding the potential role of institutional repositories and open access initiatives in enabling digital preservation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of standards in digital information discovery and delivery


To apply please complete the Short Course Application Form. Return it - with your reference - to Aberystwyth Postgraduate Admissions Office on, before the application deadline date.

For further information, please contact the please contact Information Studies tel: (+/0)1970 622188; e-mail: