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Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology with a Year of Study Abroad (BSc)

Entry year

Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology offers students interested in arts, applied science and practical work an opportunity to combine all of these interests within an exciting and challenging degree programme.

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Course overview

The four-year BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology with a Year of Study Abroad allows you to combine the study of the conservation of objects with the opportunity to gain cross-cultural experience by studying for a year at a partner institution abroad.

We specialise in the conservation of museum objects and archaeological material, using both preventive and interventive conservation procedures. All of our teaching is set against the cultural context of the objects undergoing treatment.

Working on these objects you will consider the needs of owners, and current and future users of objects in designing your treatments. Working in the laboratories from day one, you will have direct access to many state of the art conservation and scientific facilities.

Distinctive features

  • You will gain invaluable cross-cultural experience by spending a year studying abroad in a partner institution in Europe, the USA, Canada or Hong Kong.
  • The year of study abroad introduces novel academic study opportunities and will also provide you with the life skills to compete in an increasingly global workforce, such as cultural adaptability, resilience and independence.
UCAS code
Next intakeSeptember 2018
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with year abroad
Typical places availableThe School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically has 380 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically receives 1800 applications.

Entry requirements

BBB - BBC. You will not need to achieve these from any specific subjects but please note General Studies will not be accepted. 

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Achieve the IB Diploma with 665-655 in 3 HL subjects.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of History, Archaeology & Religion admissions criteria pages.

If you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.

You will require GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. Alternatively, IGCSE English First Language or English Second Language will be considered at grade C. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2018/19)

Tuition feeDeposit

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

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.

Students from outside the EU (2018/19)

Tuition feeDeposit

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

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.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment

Cardiff University has a wide range of analytical equipment including a Scanning Electron Microscope with electron dispersive and wavelength dispersive detectors and a handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

In 2014 Conservation at Cardiff acquired a compact Phoenix™ Conservation Laser to ensure students are being taught the latest conservation techniques. There is also state of the art X-ray diffraction for studying crystalline materials such as corrosion products and pigments, as well as Fourier-Transform infra-red for examining organic and inorganic materials. To better understand the properties of materials there is a climatic chamber for testing their response to fluctuating atmospheric moisture and temperature.

A wide range of microscopes, photographic facilities and x-radiography are available to support investigation and analysis of objects undergoing conservation. Treatment facilities include a freeze-drying system for treating waterlogged materials, such as wood and leather, and an airbrasive suite for the investigation of metal surfaces and removal of corrosion. Research tools include meters than can record metal corrosion by logging oxygen consumption. This equipment is housed in a suite of  purpose built conservation laboratories include dedicated rooms for analysis, x-radiography, microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and wet materials, as well as the objects teaching  laboratories with a secure object store.

All students are provided with a Lab coat and toolkit. There is access to photography and IT provision although many students opt to bring tablets or laptops or cameras to support their study.

Access to appropriate facilities and resources overseas is guaranteed by the Cardiff University process of selecting and approving partner institutions.  You will continue to have full access to the electronic resources of Cardiff University during your year of study abroad.


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a four-year degree programme with the year of study abroad normally taken in the second year.  You will take 120 credits in each year. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.

Year one

First year conservation modules are designed to develop an underpinning knowledge of conservation theory and practice. This includes developing academic and practical skills within investigative practices such as x-radiography, microscopy, photography and instrumental analysis.

An introduction to archaeology is provided via optional modules which you select.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Introduction to Conservation SkillsHS200020 credits
Conservation Skills in PracticeHS200220 credits
Visual Analysis of ArtefactsHS200320 credits
Chemistry of Conservation MaterialsHS200420 credits

Year two: Sandwich year

Year two comprises a choice of modules at the partner institution in Europe, the USA, Canada or Hong Kong. You will select your location in consultation with the partner institution and your personal tutor. Your choice will need to be approved by our History Board of Studies.

You will receive guidance on the choice of partner institutions to apply to and which modules to study while abroad, and will continue to be associated with a specific personal tutor in Cardiff University during that year. 

The marks obtained in this year of study abroad will be converted into their equivalent marks on the Cardiff University mark scale, and the aggregate mark for the year will count as 10% in the calculation of the final degree classification. The marks obtained in Cardiff in Year three will then count 30% in that calculation and the marks obtained in Cardiff in Year Four 60%.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Year of Study AbroadHS5000120 credits

Year three

The third and fourth years builds on the platform of years one and two via theory modules, practical laboratory work and museum vacation placements in conservation.

Year four

In your fourth year you will undertake theory modules to complement the modules from year three ensuring that over the course of your degree you will have covered a broad range of materials considering metals, organics, inorganics and wet and dry conditions.

You will continue to work on your practical projects in the supervised practical projects module and as your confidence increases you will work on more complex challenging problems.

In your fourth year you will participate in the research module where you will work with staff and students to design, deliver and evaluate a specific piece of conservation related research.

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?

The School of History, Archaeology and Religion enables you to develop in a high-quality learning environment, supported by a student-orientated approach to the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, practicals, field trips, and one-to-one tutorials. You will also undertake independent study and research, with guidance from tutors.

Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop your own ideas.  Seminars provide an opportunity for you to explore the ideas outlined in the lecture in a small group environment.

Seminars usually consist of about 15 students and the seminar leader (a member of the teaching team). Seminars may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small group work and student-led presentations. They offer a rewarding opportunity to engage critically with the key ideas and reading of a topic, and to explore areas of particular interest with an expert in the field.

How will I be supported?

All modules make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access course materials and links to related reading and online resources. In addition to the main University libraries, you will have access to the Sheila White Library, which contains additional copies of books on Greek and Roman history and culture.

You will be assigned a Personal Tutor, who is able to advise you on academic and pastoral matters in a confidential and informal manner. Personal Tutors meet with you regularly to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance, and are available for consultation at other times as needed. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are made available through a structured programme of Personal Development Planning and through scheduled meetings with Personal Tutors.


You will receive written feedback on all your coursework assessments, and oral feedback on assessed presentations and seminar work. You will also receive oral and written feedback from your supervisor on preparatory work and drafts for the Independent Study and Dissertation. Individual written feedback is provided for exams.

How will I be assessed?

Modules are assessed by various methods, including coursework essays, written reports, source criticisms, critical reviews, examinations, class tests and oral presentations.

Coursework and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments.  Assessment, including coursework, exams, and oral presentations, will test the different skills you have learned. 

Progression is built into assessment, in that you will do smaller guided tasks in Year One, as well as formative essays in Years Two and Three. Progression is also evident in the growing emphasis on lengthier, independent work culminating in an optional 10,000-word dissertation in Year Three.  Final Year modules also demand deeper engagement with independent methods of working, together with greater demands on handling critically a larger number of bibliographical tasks and items.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Conservation presents a good opportunity to develop transferable skills for employment or further research. The degree requires intellectual problem solving, personal judgement based on available data, and systematic evaluation of options for solving problems.

You are encouraged to develop skills of time and resource management, team working, communication, and safe working practice and are expected to operate in a punctual and professional manner.  Graduates emerge as practical conservators who are able to preserve and care for a wide range of material, which is typically found within museums. They are also able to communicate their activities to others.

The year of study abroad gives you the opportunity to broaden their academic and personal experiences and skills in an overseas environment.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

In 2015/16, 94% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

The strong vocational nature of the Cardiff University BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology With a Year of Study Abroad degree programme is recognised within the conservation profession and this factor provides conservation students with good job opportunities.  Many of our graduates aim to find related employment and our own record shows that between 70 – 75% of graduates move into related employment or education.

Some conservation graduates move into research degrees many choosing to take MSc or higher qualifications with us. Other graduates utilise their extensive transferable skills in communication, problem solving, project management, independent thinking, and scientific theory and practice to compete very successfully in a wide range of other fields.


You will undertake a minimum of eight weeks of vacation placement in an approved conservation laboratory in the UK or abroad, normally split over two summer vacations.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Friday 5 July




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