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Conservation of Books and Library Materials/MA Conservation Studies

Course Description

Now accepting applications for 2017/18

An international reputation for book conservation skills.

Working on live projects, you will apply professional book conservation treatments and critical analysis of treatments. Study of historical book structures will entail research in order to make an accurate model of a chosen historical book structure. In Conservation theory and practice you will explore exhibition issues, metal components of books, paper conservation, disaster response and materials science.

::You can expect::

- To develop excellent practical skills through object-based treatments
- To work on live projects, taking part in decision-making and applying professional conservation treatments
- To perform historical research and interpretation of the objects you work on
- To work with materials from library and archive collections

::Learning environment::

- High tutor: student ratio
- Interdisciplinary environment
- Workshop access 7am-10pm, 7 days a week
- Teaches students to understand and apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation
- Visits to collections

Programme Aims

The aims of the programme are to provide:


1. A context for the analysis, assessment and treatment of historical Library Materials

2. The opportunity to further develop existing specialist craft and conservation skills

3. A research environment for the development and public dissemination of innovative
approaches to the conservation of Books and Library Materials


1. The opportunity to contribute to the development of historical, cultural and technical
understanding of books through primary research and investigation

2. The opportunity to evaluate methodologies, develop critiques and propose new hypotheses

3. A context for individual inquiry and informed debate across conservation specialisms


1. A context for the development of a range of verbal, written and visual skills appropriate for the
communication and documentation of conservation projects and research

2. A context for the development of, and critical reflection upon, personal and professional codes
of practice

3. Opportunities to plan and implement a range of projects that are increasingly technically
complex, and which present challenges of a compound nature


From the Postgraduate Diploma students often progress to MA Conservation Studies - https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/school-of-conservation

Work as a conservation professional in a museum, library or archive, with public and private collections. Pursue a career path into collections care and management or as an independent book conservator. Graduates have gone on to work on books at The Bodleian Library in Oxford, Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, Wimborne Minster Library, Chichester Cathedral Library Collection and the Dutch National Archive.


You will work in a purpose-built space for book conservation with two workshops as well as a finishing room and science lab. Students each have their own benches with storage and can access the studio from 7am to 10pm, allowing them to take full advantage of their time at West Dean. You will also have access to facilities shared with other departments, including the analytical laboratory, photography space, IT suite, and specialist library.

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Find out more about facilities here - https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/school-of-conservation/facilities

Visit the Conservation of Books and Library Materials/MA Conservation Studies page on the West Dean College website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Benjamin Pointer

"I am working as a book and paper conservator at Temple Bookbinders in Oxford. In my first month alone, I've repaired dust-jackets, prepared books for re-sewing, patched up damaged leather, and re-backed a number of books for a variety of clients.

I know for certain that without the diploma from West Dean College, I would have struggled to get the work I now have, and I have been told by my new employer that the reputation of the college was a significant factor in his decision to take me on."


Entry Requirements

To join the PGDip/MA programme you will need to have a good first degree in Conservation or a closely related field; or have completed a Graduate Diploma in a closely related subject; or demonstrate an equivalent proficiency in basic conservation science, academic skills (research, writing and critical analysis) and practical hand skills, including manual sensitivity and dexterity. Progression to the MA is subject to the successful completion of the first semester and the identification of an appropriate MA project. Students may choose to exit the programme at the Postgraduate Diploma stage.

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Recipient: West Dean College
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