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Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology (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

BSc 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.

Conservation helps cultural and heritage objects 'tell their stories' now and into the future. We specialise in the conservation of museum objects and archaeological material, using both preventive and interventive conservation procedures.

As a conservation student you will combine theoretical knowledge with your developing practical skills, in a laboratory setting, to preserve the past. With alumni working in the sector across the globe, conservation at Cardiff has an enviable reputation for courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level and for links with the heritage sector at home and abroad.

Working in the laboratories from day one, you will have direct access to many state of the art conservation and scientific facilities. Our students become skilled in the care, repair and protection of cultural and heritage artefacts and adept at selecting the appropriate approach from the full toolkit taught to maintain our past for future generations.

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.

UCAS codeF481
Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically has 320 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.

DDM - DMM in BTEC Humanities, Social Science, Applied Science or Computing. Any other BTEC subject if combined with an A-Level, excluding General Studies, will also be considered. 

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 (2019/20)

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 (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit

Tuition fees for international students are fixed for the majority of three year undergraduate courses. This means the price you pay in year one will be the same in years two and three. Some courses are exempt, including four and five year programmes and Medical and Dental courses. Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Additional costs


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

Course structure

We are currently working with our students to update and improve the content of this course. The information shown below reflects the current curriculum and is likely to change. The review of the course is expected to be completed by August 2019 and this page will be updated by end of October 2019 to reflect the changes.

This three-year degree programme is incrementally structured to deliver the knowledge, skills and thought processes required to become an independent researcher, equipped for high-level professional employment.

In the first year you will take 80 credits of core conservation modules and select a further 40 credits of archaeology modules. Modules for years two and three are offered in alternate years. You will take 110 credits of core modules and will be able to choose a further 10 credits from Archaeology and Ancient History modules.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

Year one 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

The second and third year builds on this platform via theory modules, practical laboratory work and museum vacation placements in conservation.

Year three

In your third year you will undertake theory modules to complement the modules from year two 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 third 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?

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. You will study in a working laboratory and will contribute to its safe and efficient working, ensuring that you also gain skills in safe practice and resource management. 

Conservation practice is taught in a problem-based learning style. Within the 40 credit practical projects model you will be faced with a series of artefacts requiring some kind of care or investigation and you will be encouraged to develop conservation strategies for them. Each strategy will be unique and you will record your learning in a reflective learning log.

Your practical work relates to and is informed by the theory led modules which are taught in a more traditional lecture and tutorial style. You will undertake a weekly practical class where your ability to understand and apply conservation theory will be developed using real cultural heritage artefacts. You will carry out precise cleaning tasks which require good fine motor control. Conservation students will also need good colour vision, and be able to visually examine objects utilising appropriate equipment such as microscopes (sometimes using them for significant periods of time to carry out tasks).

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities


Guided independent study




How will I be supported?

Many 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.

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.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


You will receive written and oral feedback from module tutors on your assessed course work and a full formative evaluation at the midpoint of the second and third years within your practical projects module. Feedback occurs as formative written work, seminar discussion, written advice on course work, tutorials and research project supervision.

In Years Two and Three you will be offered formative feedback in a range of modules, including a detailed summary on their first term of practical work. In Year Three you will take the independent research project on a topic that you agree with a supervisor. This allows you to begin to develop specialisation and to develop independent research skills.

How will I be assessed?

At least one third of the assessment will be based on conservation laboratory work, with the remainder combining essays, reports and exams.  You will provide oral presentations in certain courses. The marking criteria for each module are linked to the learning outcomes for the module and of the degree as a whole.

Progression is built into assessment. You will execute smaller and simpler guided tasks in Year one, with directive support from staff, and thereafter challenges increase. In the practical projects modules conservation tasks evolve from the test cleaning of single objects to developing conservation strategies for complex items.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 2

Written exams


Practical exams




Year 3

Written exams


Practical exams




What skills will I practise and develop?

Conservation presents a good opportunity to develop transferable skills for employment or further research. These include:

  • intellectual problem solving
  • personal judgement based on available data
  •  systematic evaluation of options for solving problems
  • time and resource management
  • team working and communication
  • safe working practices. 

As a result of engaging fully with this programme you will emerge as a practical conservator who is able to preserve and care for a wide range of material, which is typically found within museums.

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 programme is recognised within the conservation profession and this factor provides conservation students with good job opportunities. 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.

We believe in giving our graduates the best opportunities to find employment. We organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help you identify your skills and attributes and have our own, in-School Workplace Placements and employability officer.


  • Conservator
  • Curator


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

Wednesday 27 March




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How to apply