BA Conservation


This intensive course is carefully structured to enable you to progressively develop the knowledge and skills you will need to undertake the conservation of three dimensional cultural artefacts.

Our graduates have enjoyed an enviable rate of employment in the professional field. Many of the Department’s alumni have gone on to work within national museum / gallery conservation departments. This includes senior conservation posts in institutions such as Birmingham Museum and Art Collections, Historic Royal Palaces, the Museum of London, the National Trust, Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, Wallace Collection and Westminster Abbey. Graduates are also employed throughout the private sector with firms such as Cliveden Conservation Workshops, Plowden and Smith, Nimbus Conservation, Taylor Pearce Conservation.



First year modules include the study of stone and wood decoration, ornamental forms, gilding, and japanning techniques, lime modelling and plaster casting. You will participate in Drawing Studio workshops involving studies from life and architectural sculpture and you are introduced to conservation ethics, the history and philosophy of conservation, preventive conservation approaches, health and safety and legislation. Stone conservation, the history of pigments and its practical application, chemistry and materials science are integrated in the Conservation Science Module. In conjunction with conservation practice training on specific projects, you will study the history of art and decorative styles with an emphasis on the history of sculpture and architecture. At the successful conclusion of the first year you will have developed manual and observational skills, knowledge of conservation science, preventive conservation and an understanding of historical conservation techniques.


The second year introduces you to modern conservation techniques (including laser cleaning) for stone, wood and decorative surfaces with extensive training in frame conservation. Materials science, the theory of colour and electro-magnetic radiation, microscopy of cross-sections and analytical techniques using IR spectroscopy and mass-spectrometry are also integral to this level of study. The chemistry of cleaning and study of the behavior of materials and mechanisms of their deterioration is complimented by work on site and with artifacts loaned by museums and from private collections. On completing the second year you will have further developed your conservation practice skills and theoretical knowledge and acquired an understanding of conservation project management, including contingency planning, the significance of different approaches to conservation and restoration work, and your own responsibility as a practitioner.

The Art School’s extensive links and partnerships with institutions provide many opportunities for summer work placements and projects and recent successful student placements have included: the V&A Museum; British Museum; Tate Gallery; Conservation Centre of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (Liverpool); National Gallery of Art Washington DC; National Museum in Iceland; Science Museum, London; Museum of London; Royal Palaces Collection; Natural History Museum; Watts Gallery, Smithsonian Conservation Institute,   and the Wallace Collection. Where a summer placement is not possible you will be advised on alternative summer project work.


In the third year you will undertake up to three remedial conservation projects with objects provided either by institutions such as English Heritage, St Pauls Cathedral, National Trust, Royal Collections Trust, Westminster Abbey, Wallace Collection or by private collectors. You will study the historical and social backgrounds of the objects in your care, to ensure that your approach to their conservation is appropriate and fully informed. Your analysis of objects and materials, your treatment proposals and their practical applications will be supervised by our team of experts, tutors who work as professionals across the range of specialisms relevant to your studies.

Alongside your practical projects and conservation reports for each project you will write a dissertation that relates to practical conservation issues that you have encountered and researched. By the successful conclusion of the course you will have a substantial portfolio demonstrating your fitness to work as a conservation practitioner.


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