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Conservation of Metalwork/MA Conservation Studies

Course Description

Still accepting applications for 2016/17

An internationally respected postgraduate metals conservation programme.

The strongly practical emphasis of this programme (73%) is based on assessment and treatment of clients' objects. You will consolidate your skills in the treatment of ferrous metals, copper allows, base metals and precious and plated metals. All work is grounded by your research into the historical context of each object, visiting lecturers and postgraduate science lecturers. Network within the sector, visit museums and collections, attend seminars and undertake optional work placements to develop your progressional practice.

::You can expect::

- Practical hands-on bench skills and object based treatments
- Tutors with extensive experience
- To work on artefacts from public and private collections
- An interdisciplinary environment
- Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions
- Access to dedicated workshops, 7am-10pm
- An approach intormed by national and international practive, to Icon standards
- Theoretical, scientific and analytical study of artefacts and materials
- To perform historical research and interpretation of the objects you work on

Programme Aims

The aims of the programme are to provide:


1. A context for the analysis, assessment and treatment of museum-class metalwork objects

2. The opportunity to develop sophisticated specialist craft and conservation skills

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


1. The opportunity to contribute to the development of historical, cultural and technical
understanding of metalwork objects 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


Graduates of the programme often progress to MA Conservation Studies - https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/school-of-conservation

Alumni have had work placements or gone on to work at The British Museum, The Royal Armouries, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Scotland, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Gold Museum Colombia, and at UK businesses including Plowden & Smith Ltd, Hall Conservation Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd. Others have become independent conservators.


You will work in our well-equipped metals workshop with areas for photography, analysis, chemicals, hot work (casting, soldering, and welding) and a machine shop. Adjacent to the workshop is the newly-built forge to which you will have access. Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

The computer suite and the on-site Art and Conservation Library put thousands of specialist books and journals, databases within your reach. A well-equipped analytical laboratory is also available to students.

Visit the Conservation of Metalwork/MA Conservation Studies page on the West Dean College website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Dorothy Cheng

"After a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree focusing on metals design I had my own brand of production jewellery in the US. I want a career that lets me stay with craft but pursue my historical interests. Conservation perfectly combines craft and history.

I discovered West Dean College offers the only graduate programme in metalwork. Other courses are not as materials-based. Here we are challenged to think about each object on a molecular level. We stabilise objects, learn about corrosion processes that may not even be visible and to think ahead how to take care of objects."


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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