This is a 2 year (full-time) or 3 year (part-time) course, which educates and trains graduate students to be conservators capable of researching, analysing, cleaning, preserving and caring for a wide range of archaeological and museum objects. This course is particularly appropriate for those seeking a career in conservation research.
It is intended for those who wish to become conservation scientists or work in the fields of artefact research or preventive conservation. Graduates of the course will normally work in museums or large heritage organisations such the National Trust or English Heritage.
Graduate students are drawn from a wide range of disciplines, but manual dexterity, a very basic knowledge of chemistry and an enthusiasm and desire to work with museum objects are essential.
The programme is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes as well as a dissertation. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate among Conservators in that area. Practicals then provide opportunities for you to implement and develop your skills, based on the knowledge that you have gained through your lectures and through independent study outside the programmes formal contact hours. Self-learning development packages allows you to continue your learning in a structured way outside the practical sessions. The dissertation allows you to develop advanced research skills in an aspect of conservation or artefact studies.
The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as you develop your knowledge, skills and the ability as independent learners and practitioners that is one of the key attributes that the programme develops in its students. The programme therefore prepares you for work or further study once you have completed the programme, with an emphasis on taking your learning from the classroom to real life situations in Museums and conservation laboratories. All teaching is delivered by qualified conservators.
In the first two terms of the first year you will typically attend 4-5 hours a week of lectures, 6 hours of practical work including seminars, 3 hours of structured self-development learning and up to 9 hours of conservation skills working in the conservation laboratory. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge.
The balance shifts in the third term, as you develop your abilities as independent learners through supervised practical conservation work for 4 days a week over 10 weeks and create a portfolio of your work and reflections.
The emphasis on using the independent study and research skills developed in the first year of the course is continued through the dissertation, which marks out the researcher route. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom you will typically have ten one-to-one supervisory meetings, you will undertake a detailed study of a particular area resulting in a significant piece of independent research.
The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which you are strongly encouraged to attend.
Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.
Visit the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (Diss) - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!