Conservation Practice (MSc)

This highly-regarded programme teaches the design, execution and delivery of research in conservation and conservation science via seminars and laboratory practice.

Designed as a conversion programme for humanities and science graduates seeking a career in Conservation, this highly-respected two-year programme is dedicated to teaching the next generation of conservators. It is a hands-on degree scheme with significant time spent in laboratories working on archaeological and historical objects.

The degree delivers the knowledge and expertise for graduates to operate as professional conservators in the heritage sector. It also provides transferable skills in project and resource management, problem solving and communication that would suit a wide range of careers, while also offering a solid platform for pursuing research.

Gaining a sophisticated understanding of theoretical principles and practical applications, you will become adept in the care and protection of cultural heritage artefacts through laboratory experience and close tuition, which develops your skills in the practice of both new and traditional conservation techniques. 

Over the two years, you will evolve a sophisticated understanding of theoretical principles, amassing considerable experience of working on cultural heritage objects from the UK and across the globe. 
Through this programme we aim to:

  • provide an underpinning framework for understanding the role of a conservator; the skills required to carry out conservation practice; techniques of conservation and the relationship between materials, decay and treatment
  • equip you with the necessary skills to operate equipment and use tools commonly found within conservation laboratories
  • provide a conservation qualification that encompasses and links theoretical and practical skills
  • equip you to operate as professional conservators in the heritage sector
  • prepare you for either further research or a wide range of careers by offering transferable skills in project and resource management, probleproblem-solvingommunication

Distinctive features

  • taught by internationally-recognised experts in the field.
  • rewarding conservation placements (two months minimum).
  • allows you to hone both practical conservation techniques and an impressive range of skills useful for professions in the heritage sector.
  • gives you experience of working on archaeological, historical, and cultural materials in a laboratory and to consider their value, use, legal and ethical context.
  • an exciting mix of practical and research skills encompassing: aesthetics; ethics; science; project management.
  • an emphasis on independent learning and research in a well-resourced and research-led environment.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration2 years
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

 

Applicants should normally possess a higher education degree with a first or good upper second class Honours (UK), or a qualification recognised by the University as equivalent to this. 

This programme is suitable for graduates in archaeology, history, ancient history, conservation and the sciences. 

If you have an arts-based degree you must supply evidence of your highest level of education within science. Evidence of an interest in or commitment to the cultural heritage sector will strengthen an application.

Applicants with a first language other than English

You must demonstrate a IELTS test with a minimum score of 6.5 or equivalent.

We welcome applications year-round but to commence your studies in any given year (starting September), you must submit your application by 1st August.

You study modules with a total of 300 credits over two years, combining core modules in Conservation training (120 credits), postgraduate core skills (40 credits), optional modules (80 credits) and, upon successful completion of the taught stage of the programme, a dissertation (60 credits).  

Year one

In your first year you will gain the underpinning skills, knowledge and theory required to study and deliver conservation practice. 

In the summer you engage in an eight-week placement working in conservation.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Practical Projects 2HS233140 credits
Essentials of ConservationHS233920 credits
Museums Collections ManagementHS242120 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Metals: Corrosion and ConservationHS237120 credits
Inorganic Objects: Decay and ConservationHS237220 credits

Year two

Year two incorporates a taught element which lasts for the first two semesters of study and is assessed at the end of this period. 

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

We teach via laboratory practice, seminars, lectures and assessed work using multiple formats to combine theoretical knowledge with realistic practical applications, including placements in partner museums and related heritage organisations.  

Importantly, this programme integrates theory and practice throughout via practical work on archaeological and historical objects, where you are supported by one to one tuition. The focus is on developing problem solving and decision-making skills using problem-based learning assignments. Verbal interaction with staff forms a large part of the learning process that leads the student towards being a stand-alone decision maker.

Learning outcomes for the module are correlated to the novice to expert scale utilised by The Institute for Conservation (ICON) for competence assessment. 

More advanced knowledge and understanding is acquired by independent study, guided reflective laboratory practice, self-directed learning and individual supervision of dissertations.

How will I be supported?

On enrolment, you are assigned your own Personal Tutor and provided with teaching and learning resources, including Postgraduate Handbook. Additional specific module resources are made available during the programme.

We offer one-to-one time in set office hours during teaching weeks, and also welcome email contact. Additionally, you can make appointments to see your personal tutor on a one-to-one basis about any issue. Our Professional Services team is also available for advice and support.

Your personal tutor is your contact point to discuss any problems arising from the course. Further queries should be addressed to the School’s Director of Postgraduate Taught.

A suite of object conservation and analytical research laboratories are available to you. Treatment facilities and analytical equipment include:

  • Analytical SEM
  • Portable XRF
  • FTIR with microscope attached
  • Portable Raman Spectroscopy
  • EIS
  • X-radiography
  • Climatic chambers
  • Digital microscopy
  • NdYag laser
  • Freeze-drying system (for treating waterlogged materials such as wood and leather)
  • Abrasive suite (for the investigation of metal surfaces and removal of corrosion)
  • Three conservation laboratories (including flexible space for the treatment of large objects)
  • Digital photography suite
  • Computer suite

Feedback

Feedback on coursework may be provided via written comments on work submitted and through discussion in contact sessions.

Formative feedback is provided individually through essay returns, feedback during practical classes, comments upon documents and via formal and informal review meetings.

How will I be assessed?

There is a diverse range of assessment methods including reflective learning logs, essays, exams, oral presentations, portfolio, reports and viva.

This range of assessment ensures that you have developed a broad range of practical and theoretical skills, knowledge and communication methods by the completion of the course.

On successful completion of the taught elements of the programme you progress to a dissertation of up to 20,000 words. This self-regulated year of study is ideal preparation for progression to PhD.

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire a broad range of skills including the ability to:

•    evaluate the condition of archaeological and historical objects and formulate evidence-based procedures to preserve them
•    execute a wide range of practical processes required to apply conservation treatments
•    operate a range of instrumental and investigative analysis tools and interpret the data they produce
•    liaise with stakeholders 
•    offer rationalised solutions to problems
•    carry out independent research on specialist subjects
•    exercise initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex situations and offer pragmatic evidence based solutions
•    present information in appropriate formats within  professional contexts
•    acquire the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Additionally, you will develop communication, time management, decision making, presentation and good record keeping skills.

 

Graduates of this and similar degree programmes have embarked on careers in a range of professions from academia, the heritage sector, journalism and law to media research (media, commercial, academic), teaching and publishing. A significant number choose to continue studies at PhD level. 

Recent graduate destinations include CADW, Church in Wales, Council for British Archaeology, Glamorgan Archives, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Trust, Tate Gallery, Welsh Assembly Government and a range of universities in the UK and overseas.

 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Benefitting from our sector connections, you will develop your skills on an eight week conservation placement, normally in the summer between years one and two.

Among recent partner organisations are the Imperial War Museum, Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales, Staffordshire Hoard project, Bristol Museum and the Royal Armouries.