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The Principles of Conservation MA offers students an introduction to the context of heritage conservation, of how conservation works, and of the issues and constraints which affect conservation practice. The programme explores the principles, theory, ethics and practicalities relating to the care and conservation of a wide variety of objects and structures.

About this degree

This cross-disciplinary degree has a strong focus on object-based learning through the use of UCL collections as teaching tools that benefit both students and the collections. Our object-based approaches are grounded in real problems that generate both practical and theoretical responses. Students gain an in-depth understanding of approaches to collections care, preventive conservation, risk assessment, conservation strategies, ethics, management and professionalism, and develop critically aware perspectives on professional practice and research processes. 

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), optional modules (30 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Compulsory modules

Students are required to take the following: 

  • Issues in Conservation: Context of Conservation
  • Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects
  • Conservation in Practice: Preventive Conservation
  • Skills for Conservation Management

Optional modules

Students choose further optional modules up to the value of 30 credits from the following list of related options (the degree co-ordinator may seek to guide the option choices made by those intending to carry on for the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums.

  • Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Materials structure and deterioration of craft materials
  • Working with artefacts and assemblages

Dissertation/report

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words (90 credits).

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of seminars, lectures, small-group tutorials, workshops and practical projects. Some modules include visits to conservation workshops and museums, including the British Museum, National Trust and the Museum of London. Assessment is through coursework, essays, poster, portfolio, project reports and the dissertation.

Funding

UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA) Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2019/20. All UK/EU and Overseas fee-paying students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. For an application form please email . The deadline for applications is 1 March 2019.

UK students are eligible to apply to the Anna Plowden Trust 

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Careers

The Institute of Archaeology has a long history of training in conservation, and many of its graduates are now employed in key posts around the world. Many students go on to take the Conservation for Archaeology and Museums MSc. Others pursue careers in preventive conservation and collections management in local and national museums, art galleries and heritage organisations (mainly in Europe, North America and Asia). Some students have also used this degree as a platform to become a PhD candidate at both UCL and elsewhere.

Employability

Knowledge and skills acquired during the programme include the understanding of the roles conservators play in the care and study of cultural heritage, and the ethical issues involved. This is complemented by a basic understanding of raw materials, manufacturing technologies, assessment of condition and the ways in which different values and meanings are assigned to cultural objects. The student will be able to perform preventive conservation, collections general care and management, visual examination techniques, surveys, as well as assessments and monitoring of museum collections. They will also be proficient in various types of documentation, analysis of numerical data, report writing, public outreach, and presentation of conservation issues through posters, social media, talks and essays.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The MA Principles of Conservation uses innovatory teaching methods that enrich students’ experience and places us at the cutting edge of international conservation training. The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK, and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study. Its conservation programmes have an international reputation.

This MA will give you knowledge and skills to work in several conservation contexts and cross-disciplines. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, objects-based activities, first-hand experience with collections, and technical visits, you will be fully equipped to working on collections care and preventive conservation, or to move on to doctoral research.

Department: Institute of Archaeology

Applications

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

This cross-disciplinary degree is designed for students with experience in heritage, anthropology, archaeology, culture and/or art. The programme does not provide practical training in objects conservation, but is an excellent preparation for scientists wishing to undertake research in conservation science, or for those considering a career in collections care, preventive conservation and management.

Application deadlines

26 July 2019

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Principles of Conservation at graduate level
  • why you want to study Principles of Conservation at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • whether you have any previous experience of work in the general heritage field (e.g. as a volunteer)
  • where you would like to go professionally with the MA in Principles of Conservation
  • whether you intend to take this programme as a prerequisite for the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology in Museums
  • how you envisage your career if you take both the MA and MSc degrees

Visit the Principles of Conservation MA page on the University College London website for more details!

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