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Conservation of Fine Art - MA


Course Description

Would you like to apply your arts or applied sciences background to the conservation of fine art?

Northumbria University’s MA Conservation of Fine Art course is the only Master of Arts course in the UK that specialises in the conservation of easel painting and works of art on paper.

Integrating a mix of fine art, science and forensic techniques, you will study a range of subjects including studio and work-based practice, conservation theory, science, technical examination, -preventive conservation and research training skills.

In addition to the core modules studied, you will have the option to undertake a work placement during years one and two in the UK or abroad.

Learn From The Best

This course is taught by a team of specialist academics who have extensive experience in the field of conservation, science and the Fine Art sectors.

Applying their specialist knowledge to their day-to-day teaching, the members of our staff are actively involved in research and consultancy - activities which are helping to define this exciting and complex profession.

We also engage with the wider conservation sector to ensure that the content of this course is in-line with professional standards and employer expectations.

Throughout the duration of this course you will receive ongoing support from our teaching staff to ensure you leave equipped with - the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully pursue a career within conservation or a related discipline.

Teaching And Assessment

Offering the opportunity for you to specialise in either works of art on paper or easel paintings conservation, this course consists of modules that will explore a range of key areas including conservation theory and practice, conservation science, art history and preventive conservation

You will leave with the technical skills required to undertake examinations, cleaning, structural repairs and stabilisation of works of art, in addition to an in-depth understanding of the historic significance artistic practice and materials play-in understanding artworks.

Significant emphasis is also placed on ethics and developing your skills in research development.

This course is primarily delivered through practical workshops where you will develop a wide range of skills using especially prepared materials and case studies selected from our unique archive collection. These activities inform and run parallel with work conducted on project paintings and other challenging artefacts.

Assessment methods focus on you applying your practical skills, academic concepts and theories to your project documentation and the authentically constructed materials that mirror real life scenarios. You will also undertake a dissertation to further demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of this subject.

Learning Environment

When studying the MA Conservation of Fine Art course you will be housed in a Grade II listed building in the heart of Newcastle city centre. You will be able to utilise techniques such as x-ray, infra-red reflectography, and ultraviolet florescence and false colour infrared photography to examine materials and artworks spanning centuries, in addition to gaining access to intriguing archives and cutting edge technology.

You may also have access to other advanced technologies such as UV fluorescence microscopy, polarised light microscopy (PLM), UV/VIS spectrophotometry, fourier transform infrared (FTIR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX).

You will also receive ongoing support through our innovative e-learning platform, Blackboard, which will allow you to access learning materials such as module handbooks, assessment information, online lectures, reading lists and virtual gallery tours.

Research-Rich Learning

Research-rich learning is embedded throughout all aspects of this course and our staff are continuously involved and informed by fast-moving emerging developments in conservation research and ethical debates.

All of our staff possess individual specialisms, in areas such as the development and evaluation of conservation treatments for paintings, characterisation of artists’ materials and techniques, studies in material deterioration and comprehensive documentation of works of art.

Our team also collaborate with national and international research organisations.

When studying this master’s degree, you are encouraged to develop your own individual research skills to ensure you graduate with confidence in your own practical and academic experience. These skills are further enhanced when you undertake your dissertation under the guidance of your assigned tutor.

Give Your Career An Edge

This course has been developed to reflect national guidelines and ensure that you graduate with the necessary skills and knowledge to kick-start your career within this profession. There are also many additional opportunities available to further enhance your career edge whilst you study.

Throughout the duration of this course you will create a professional portfolio, which will include examples of practical work and displays of your intellectual achievement to provide a demonstration of your skills and enhance your performance at interviews.

In addition to completing a placement to further enhance your development you will also have the opportunity to present research papers at an organised symposium.

We actively encourage you to engage with professional bodies and attend key conferences to allow you to network with professionals who are already working within the profession, and you may also have the opportunity to advantage of our partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, whose collection supports a number of activities. Our long standing links with the National Trust, Tate Britain and the estate of Francis Bacon have created exciting projects for our MA and PhD students.

Your Future

This course will equip you with a deep understanding of both the skills and knowledge required to work effectively in fine art conservation laboratories or conservation jobs across the world.

You may choose to work in galleries or museums, or progress your research to PhD level.

Recent illustrious alumni list, include Virginia Lladó-Buisán Head of Conservation & Collection Care Bodleian Libraries, Britta New, Paintings Conservator at the National Gallery in London and Eleanor Hasler, Head of Paper Conservation at Kew Gardens.

As your professional development is in-line with the current postgraduate professional standards for the Conservation of Fine Art, your access to postgraduate professional jobs within the conservation sector is likely to be enhanced.

Visit the Conservation of Fine Art - MA page on the Northumbria University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Applicants are required to hold an honours degree, usually in chemistry, physics, art history or fine art, although students have also come from backgrounds in engineering and other related fields. Science graduates must also have competence in practical art and Arts graduates should note that an A Level in Chemistry or the completion of a specialist science course (such as Chemistry for Conservators run by IAP in London) will strengthen their application.

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