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Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials/MA Conservation Studies

Course Description

Still accepting applications for 2016/17

You will develop your skills to professional best practice standards by combining theory and practice to undertake advanced projects. A research project is a core component of the programme. You will have the opportunity of a work placement at a museum of private workshop.

::You can expect::

- To develop excellent practical skills through object-based treatments To study ceramic technology, material culture and materials science
- To perform historical research and interpretation of the objects you work on
- To work on artefacts from public and private collections
- Visits to collections, sites and workshops
- Visiting lecturers

Programme Aims

The aims of the programme are to provide:


1. A context for the analysis, assessment and treatment of ceramic and related material objects

2. The opportunity to develop sophisticated specialist conservation skills

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


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

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

3. A context for individual inquiry and group debate across the 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 either increasingly technically
more complex, or have issues that are of a compounded or more complex nature


Become a conservator in a museum, follow a path into collections care or develop your own private conservation practice.

Graduates have had placements at or gone on to work with: The British Museum, The V&A, The Ashmolean Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, National Museums; Liverpool, Cliveden Conservation, Plowden and Smith Ltd. and Sarah Peek Conservation.

Students often progress from the Postgraduate Diploma onto MA Conservation Studies - https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/school-of-conservation


You will work in our well-equipped Ceramics workshop with access to a pottery studio, and our well-equipped analytical laboratory. Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

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.

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

(Student Profile)

Harriet Sylvester

"I have had the opportunity to work on some truly impressive and important objects requiring varying degrees of treatment. One completed project was the conservation of a Chinese Export Hard-Paste Porcelain Blue and White 'Soldier' Vase and Lid, from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) from the factories possibly in Jingdezhen in China.

Work included the removal and dismantling of previous restoration, cleaning, bonding and filling areas to replace lost material and retouching missing decoration. Thorough examination and research was undertaken, supported by documentary photographs, to assess the condition and to observe the extent of the previous repairs. It has been an immense pleasure to work on such a challenging, historically important and decorative piece."


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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