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Course content

This highly-regarded programme teaches the design, execution and delivery of research in conservation and conservation science via seminars and laboratory practice.

Overview

Designed as a conversion programme for humanities and science graduates seeking a career in Conservation, this highly-respected two-year programme is dedicated to teaching the next generation of conservators. It is a hands-on degree scheme with significant time spent in laboratories working on archaeological and historical objects.

The degree delivers the knowledge and expertise for graduates to operate as professional conservators in the heritage sector. It also provides transferable skills in project and resource management, problem solving and communication that would suit a wide range of careers, while also offering a solid platform for pursuing research.

Gaining a sophisticated understanding of theoretical principles and practical applications, you will become adept in the care and protection of cultural heritage artefacts through laboratory experience and close tuition, which develops your skills in the practice of both new and traditional conservation techniques. 

Over the two years, you will evolve a sophisticated understanding of theoretical principles, amassing considerable experience of working on cultural heritage objects from the UK and across the globe. 

Through this programme we aim to:

  • provide an underpinning framework for understanding the role of a conservator; the skills required to carry out conservation practice; techniques of conservation and the relationship between materials, decay and treatment
  • equip you with the necessary skills to operate equipment and use tools commonly found within conservation laboratories
  • provide a conservation qualification that encompasses and links theoretical and practical skills
  • equip you to operate as professional conservators in the heritage sector
  • prepare you for either further research or a wide range of careers by offering transferable skills in project and resource management, probleproblem-solvingommunication

Distinctive features

  • taught by internationally-recognised experts in the field.
  • rewarding conservation placements (two months minimum).
  • allows you to hone both practical conservation techniques and an impressive range of skills useful for professions in the heritage sector.
  • gives you experience of working on archaeological, historical, and cultural materials in a laboratory and to consider their value, use, legal and ethical context.
  • an exciting mix of practical and research skills encompassing: aesthetics; ethics; science; project management.
  • an emphasis on independent learning and research in a well-resourced and research-led environment.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

We teach via laboratory practice, seminars, lectures and assessed work using multiple formats to combine theoretical knowledge with realistic practical applications, including placements in partner museums and related heritage organisations. 

Importantly, this programme integrates theory and practice throughout via practical work on archaeological and historical objects, where you are supported by one to one tuition. The focus is on developing problem solving and decision-making skills using problem-based learning assignments. Verbal interaction with staff forms a large part of the learning process that leads the student towards being a stand-alone decision maker.

Learning outcomes for the module are correlated to the novice to expert scale utilised by The Institute for Conservation (ICON) for competence assessment. 

More advanced knowledge and understanding is acquired by independent study, guided reflective laboratory practice, self-directed learning and individual supervision of dissertations.

How will I be supported?

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.

Your personal tutor is your contact point to discuss any problems arising from the course. Further queries should be addressed to the School’s Director of Postgraduate Taught.

A suite of object conservation and analytical research laboratories are available to you. Treatment facilities and analytical equipment include:

  • Analytical SEM
  • Portable XRF
  • FTIR with microscope attached
  • Portable Raman Spectroscopy
  • EIS
  • X-radiography
  • Climatic chambers
  • Digital microscopy
  • NdYag laser
  • Freeze-drying system (for treating waterlogged materials such as wood and leather)
  • Abrasive suite (for the investigation of metal surfaces and removal of corrosion)
  • Three conservation laboratories (including flexible space for the treatment of large objects)
  • Digital photography suite
  • Computer suite

Career prospects

Graduates of this and similar degree programmes have embarked on careers in a range of professions from academia, the heritage sector, journalism and law to media research (media, commercial, academic), teaching and publishing. A significant number choose to continue studies at PhD level. 

Recent graduate destinations include CADW, Church in Wales, Council for British Archaeology, Glamorgan Archives, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Trust, Tate Gallery, Welsh Assembly Government and a range of universities in the UK and overseas.


Visit the Conservation Practice - MSc page on the Cardiff University website for more details!

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