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Practical Projects 2 - 40 credits (HS2331)

Course Description

A module designed to develop student’s ability to translate conservation theory into practice through the medium of practical projects, which involves the conservation of a wide range of cultural material.

Credits: 40

Availability of module: Every year

Prerequisites: N/A

Necessary for: BSc Conservation of Museum Objects, MSc Conservation Practice

Tutors: Jane Henderson with Phil Parkes and Yiota Manti

Teaching methods

  • Supervised laboratory work and seminars using a problem based learning model of teaching, where students are allocated museum and archaeological objects for conservation and research. Students will have a minimum of 140 supervised hours but in practice most students undertake considerably more. Students work on individual object supported by a range of teaching staff and mentors. Learning from this module is captured in a reflective learning log known as The Project Notebook.
  • Vacation placement in an approved conservation laboratory in the UK or abroad, normally during the summer vacation.
  • Students are supplied with a range of supporting information such as the Guide to Conservation Practice to detail procedures and operating systems for the conservation laboratories and specific Health and Safety information. Further seminars are offered to supplement specific aspects of laboratory practice on a case by case basis related to the objects being worked on.


  • Assessment of the module is made under the four headings, core research skills, practical skills, organisational skills and good practice. Students are assessed on the basis of exchanges with staff, outcomes from their practical work and an appraisal of their Project Note Books.
  • Students are offered a full formative appraisal on completion of the autumn semester and summative assessment on completion of the spring semester.
  • Students are required to produce two further pieces of summative work each contributing 10% of the marks, these projects, known as ‘Project Reports’ are student led reports on topics related to their practical, some students will produce a portfolio of work.
  • Students are required to complete laboratory records and these will be assessed formatively.

Summary of course content

This module uses object based learning in a series of practical seminar classes to teach the principles and practice of conservation.  This is a practical module designed for students to demonstrate an ability to translate conservation theory into practice. The projects are laboratory based and students will develop conservation strategies for a broad range of cultural materials at least one of which presents a complex challenge. Students should form a conservation treatment rationale that they can use for all projects. Treatment work should be supported by research in conservation procedures appropriate to the objects to be treated. Following discussions and advice students will produce an agreed conservation strategy. The student completes the project with the guidance and supervision of the teaching staff. Learning outcomes for the module are correlated to the novice to expert scale utilised by Icon, The Institute for Conservation for competence assessment.

The clients that supply the projects will include archaeologists, museums, trusts and national agencies such as English Heritage. How students develop communication, time management, decision making, presentation and good record keeping skills are all important factors within this course.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:

  • understand the ethical basis of the conservation profession and the responsibilities of the conservation professional to cultural heritage and to wider society.
  • understand the wider contexts in which conservation is carried out, the implications of context for practice, and the implications of treatments and methods within the context.
  • understand the principles of conservation and demonstrate an in-depth understanding of this  in practice via the projects carried out.
  • carry out laboratory testing and assessment of techniques and materials.
  • research, formulate and evaluate  complex conservation options showing deliberate analysis and planning
  • use critical thinking, analysis and synthesis in approaching conservation problems and  using this evidence develop appropriate practical solutions.
  • implement treatment-based, preventive or conservation management measures using a broad range of equipment found in a conservation laboratory.
  • maintain records of conservation measures to professional standards.
  • take responsibility for the care of cultural heritage within their influence.
  • communicate recommendations and advice effectively.
  • demonstrate the ability to reflect on and learn from their own practice.
  • manage complex conservation projects and organise their work schedule to meet agreed deadlines.
  • describe, implement and conform with general health and safety regulations.

Suggested book purchases


Suggested preparatory reading

The module will require a broad range of reading, mainly from conference publications, journals and edited compilations. Students will be expected to undertake reading for specific case studies from all these sources and may use additional web sources such as manufactures data, safety information, museums and heritage related sites. Additional resources for the laboratory work can be found on the SHARE CL module on Learning Central.

Allen N.S., Edge M. and Horie V. (1992) Polymers in Conservation Special publications number 105. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Buys S. and Oakley V., 1993 Conservation and Restoration of Ceramics. Butterworths London.

Costa, V. 2001, Deterioration of silver alloys and some aspects of their conservation Reviews in Conservation, Volume 2,  International Institute for Conservation, London.pp18-34

Bromelle N., Pye E., Smith P. and Thomson G., (Eds) 1984, Adhesives and Consolidants. IIC Paris Congress 2-8 September 1984. International Institute for Conservation, London.

Brooks, M.M. and O'Connor, S.A. 2007X-radiography of Textiles, Dress and Related Objects, Oxford, UK, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Caple, C.,  2000 Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making Routledge, London.

Cronyn, J.M.,  1990 The Elements of Archaeological Conservation  Routledge London

Elias H.G.,  1997 An Introduction to Polymer Science. VCH Weinheim. New York.

Hedley G.A., 1980 Solubility parameters and varnish removal: a survey, The Conservator 4 UKICC London, ppl2-l8.

Henderson, J., 2011 Reflections on decision making in conservation, In Bridgeland, J. (ed.), Pre-prints of the ICOM Committee for Conservation, 16th Triennial Conference, Lisbon 19-23 September 2011, ICOM, Portugal.

Henderson, J., 2010 Scientific method in the transformation from students to professionals Conservation Matters in Wales The Role of Science in Conservation, Federation of Museums and Art Galleries Wales and National Museums Wales pp 7-11.

Horie C.V. , 2010 Materials for Conservation, Organic Consolidants, Adhesives and Coatings. Butterworths. 2nd edition.

Laing, J. and Midleton, A. (eds) (1997) Radiography of Cultural Material Butterworths.

Lister, T and Renshaw, J. 2004 Conservation chemistry – an introduction Royal Society of Chemistry London.

Manti, P, Henderson, J & Watkinson D 2011 Reflective practice in conservation education, In Bridgeland, J. (ed.), Pre-prints of the ICOM Committee for Conservation, 16th Triennial Conference, Lisbon 19-23 September 2011, ICOM, Portugal.

May E., and Jones M., 2006 Conservation Science: Heritage Materials. The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Millls J.S. and White R. 1987 The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects. Butterworths.

Pearson, C. 1988 Conservation of Marine Archaeological Objects,  Butterworth - Heinemann Series in Conservation and Museology.

Pye, E. 2001 Caring for the Past: issues in conservation for archaeology and museums London: James & James Science Publications Ltd.

Scott, D. A. (2002) Copper and Bronze in Art; Corrosion, Colourants and Conservation, Getty Trust Publications: Getty Conservation Institute: USA.

Stanley Price, N., Talley, K. M, & Melucco Vaccaro, A., (eds) 1996 Historical and Philosophical Issues in the conservation of Cultural Heritage The Getty Conservation Institute Los Angeles.

Watkinson, D. E. and Stevenson, S. 199) Assessing Student Practical Work, ICOM Committee for Conservation 11th Triennial, Bridgeland, J. (ed.), Edinburgh 1-6 September 1996, 145 -51, James and James, London.

Wilks, H., (series Editor) 1983 Science for Conservators Volumes 1-3 Introduction to Materials, Cleaning, Adhesives and Coatings. The Conservation Unit, Museums and Galleries Commission.