Professional Conservation (MSc)
- Duration: 1 year
- Mode: Full time
Why study this course
Teaching critical thinking and problem-solving in conservation and heritage sciences and the design, execution and delivery of rigorous scientific research.
Designed for conservators and science graduates.
Delivers design, execution and delivery of research in conservation science.
Taught by internationally respected researchers, this one-year programme is designed to meet the needs of conservators and science graduates wishing to expand into the exciting fields of the conservation and heritage sciences. With a focus on thought processes rather than knowledge, our aim is to produce problem-solvers and critical thinkers who can design and execute robust research which advances understanding in the sector.
Over the year of study, you will be immersed in the theory and practice of conservation and heritage sciences. Modules that challenge your preconceptions of conservation and examine the literature that underpins our profession sit alongside modules centred on skills acquisition in the investigation and analysis of heritage artefacts. This culminates in independent dissertation research which evidences your understanding of scientific process and ability to produce novel datasets.
Pursuing your studies in our suite of purpose-built laboratories, you will have access to a wealth of specialist equipment. In-house resources range from scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared and raman spectroscopies to electrochemistry, spectrophotometry and x-radiography. Our collaboration with the National Museum Wales allows students to access x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence techniques. We also offer specialist visualisation technologies such as digital microscopy, GIS, digital illustration and a photography suite, plus sample preparation equipment (freeze dryers, air abrasion and microbalances). We have a dedicated climatic simulation laboratory for modelling the impact of environments on heritage and conservation materials.
Our MSc students join a vibrant and supportive research and teaching environment of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral conservators and heritage scientists.
Celebrating the centenary of Archaeology and Conservation in 2020, we’re ranked in the world top 150 (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020) while our research ranked 12th among archaeology departments in the UK (Research Excellence Framework 2014).
Where you'll study
Curious about the human experience across millennia and cultures, we are seeking to better understand our past, to illuminate our present and improve our future.
This degree is suitable for graduates from Archaeology, History, Ancient History, Conservation & Heritage, the Sciences.
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.
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(with at least 6.0 in any sub-score) 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.
Find out more about English language requirements.
Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.
You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.
If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:
- access to computers or devices that can store images
- use of internet and communication tools/devices
- freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
- contact with people related to Cardiff University.
This is a full-time programme, taught over two semesters (one year).
You study core modules totalling 80 credits and choose optional modules worth 40 credits.
Following successful completion of the taught element of the programme you progress to your dissertation (20,000 words maximum) on a laboratory-based research topic. In some instances, this research may be included in a Cardiff based publication, with your name included on the author list.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Assessment and Design for Collections Care||HST330||40 credits|
|Scientific Approach in Conservation Practice||HST341||20 credits|
|Collection Care in the Museum Environment||HST343||20 credits|
|Materials in the Museum Environment||HST344||20 credits|
|Advance Practical Projects||HST460||40 credits|
|Making Conservation Decisions||HST463||20 credits|
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.
Learning and assessment
How will I be taught?
We teach via lectures, seminars, group discussion, tutorials, laboratory classes, demonstrations and field trips.
Our focus is on interaction with staff and involvement in laboratory practice. This aims to develop the skills and the critical insight necessary to generate and execute evidence-based research designs.
The dissertation forms an important part of the programme, as does the instrumental analysis and data interpretation that accompanies laboratory practice.
How will I be assessed?
Assessment of the programme comes through a diverse range of assessment methods including essays, reports, written critique, data interpretation, oral presentation, research design and dissertation.
This range of assessment ensures that you have developed a broad range of skills, knowledge and communication methods that are of direct relevance to the design, delivery and reporting of research, while also being of relevance within many other contexts.
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.
How will I be supported?
You will have access to a laboratory dedicated to conservation research and a wide range of in-house analytical equipment and specialist laboratories to support your studies and research including:
• Analytical SEM
• Portable XRF
• FTIR with microscope attached
• Portable Raman Spectroscopy
• Climatic chambers
• Digital microscopy
• NdYag laser
• Digital photographic facilitiesObject conservation laboratories
• Microscopy laboratory
• Computer suite
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.
What skills will I practise and develop?
You will develop a wide range of skills, including ability to:
• Problem solve
• Make evidence-based decisions via reading, observation and experiment
• Design experiments to support conservation goals
• Evaluate, interpret and contextualise analytical data
• Understand the importance of sampling and sample design in conservation science
• Pragmatically integrate experimental data into conservation contexts
• Operate selected instrumental analysis techniques
• Recognise good and bad research
• Identify and define research impact within conservation
• Manage small scientific projects
• Communicate orally with specialists, non-specialists and stakeholders
• Produce writing styles to suit the needs of end users
• Influence the viewpoint of others with evidence-based argument
• Evaluate your own decisions and accept formative critique from colleagues
• Deconstruct problems and build solutions for them
• Identify professional standards and provide work output that meets these standards
• Recognise quality
• Set standards
• Communicate effectively with fellow professionals and the public
• Time manage and structure workload
Students from the UK
|Tuition fee (2021/22)||Deposit|
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.
Students from the rest of the world (international)
|Tuition fee (2021/22)||Deposit|
More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.
Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.
Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?
No specific equipment is required.
We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.
Many graduates of this programme have embarked on careers in conservation within the heritage sector, while others choose to continue studies at PhD level.
Recent graduate destinations include UK organisations such as The National Trust, The National Archives, Imperial War Museum, Bath Record Office, MSDS Marine and international destinations including Yale Peabody Museum, Penn Museum, St Mary’s City Maryland, UCLA Library, Colonial Williamsburg and the Library of Congress.
91% of postgraduates from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion were in employment or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016/17).