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Course content

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

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).

Core 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.

  • Approaches to Artefact Studies
  • Archaeolmetallurgy
  • Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Materials structure and deterioration of craft materials

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.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Principles of Conservation MA

Funding

Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2018/19. 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 2018.

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.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Freelance Conservator, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Conservation, New York University and studying MA in Principles of Conservation, UCL
  • Collections Intern, George Washington University Museum - The Textile Museum and studying MA in Principles of Conservation, UCL
  • Historic Property Steward, English Heritage
  • Assistant Curator, Tower of London

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 visual examination techniques 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, and presentation of conservation issues through posters, social media, talks and essays.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

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.

Students benefit from the institute's lively international involvement in archaeology and heritage, from its well-equipped facilities, and access to UCL's extensive science, art and archaeology collections.

The institute's conservation laboratories provide a modern and pleasant learning environment, while the Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories provide excellent facilities for the examination and analysis of a wide variety of archaeological materials.


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

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