Institute of Archaeology


MA Principles of Conservation

Co-ordinator: Renata Peters
Other Major Contributors: James Hales, Caitlin O'Grady and Dean Sully

The MA Principles of Conservation uses innovatory teaching methods that enrich students’ experience and places us at the cutting edge of international conservation training. The degree has a strong focus on object-based learning through the use of UCL collections as teaching tools that benefit both students and the collections. Our object-based approaches are grounded in real problems that generate both practical and theoretical responses. This includes issues relating to material fabric, preventive conservation, managerial skills, ethics, values and interest groups associated with objects, participatory approaches to conservation decision-making, communication, and public outreach. 

It will provide you with knowledge and skills to work in several conservation contexts and cross-disciplines. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, objects-based activities, first-hand experience with collections, and technical visits, you will be fully equipped to working on collections care and preventive conservation, or to move on to doctoral research. 

The degree provides an introduction to the principles, theory and ethics of archaeological conservation. It is aimed at:

  • students who need a good understanding of conservation issues before going on to research in conservation (eg graduates in the physical sciences)
  • students who want to focus on care and management of collections
  • students who are wanting to become practising conservators by continuing to the two-year MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums (for which the MA is a pre-requisite)
  • it provides training for those with a science degree who want to become conservation scientists.  
  • it is also suitable as mid-career development for students who have received training in practical conservation during the course of their employment, and are now looking for a theoretical background and a recognised qualification and/or update their conservation knowledge

The degree, set within a broad heritage context, explores issues and practicalities relating to the care and conservation of a wide variety of objects and structures. It is available either full-time over one calendar year or part-time over two calendar years (commencing September). The programme does not provide training in the practice of conservation; this is the objective of the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums. Students who want to carry on for the MSc would normally have some background in chemistry (further details). The two degree programmes together make up a package which prepares students for professional practice.

The Institute of Archaeology supports the principles of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 Unidroit Convention and is unique as a UK academic department in having an ethics policy concerning the illicit trade in antiquities.

Programme Structure

For more information about the structure of the Programme, including module details, please use the link below.

MA Principles of Conservation

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2018

Modes and duration
Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years
Tuition Fees (2018/19)
£10,410 (FT) £5,240 (PT)
£21,440 (FT) £10,740 (PT)
Application deadlines
All applicants
Open: 16 October 2017
Close: 27 July 2018

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree normally in archaeology, anthropology, history of art or the physical sciences from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Degrees in other subjects may be accepted, and relevant experience (e.g. in conservation, archaeology or museums) is an advantage.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme does not provide practical training in objects conservation, but is an excellent preparation for scientists wishing to undertake research in conservation science, or for those considering a career in collections care, preventive conservation and management. It is a prerequisite for the two-year MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums; together these two programmes provide a professional training in conservation practice.

Application deadlines
All applicants
27 July 2018

The final deadline for submitting complete applications, including references, is 1 April 2018.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now
What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Principles of Conservation at graduate level
  • why you want to study Principles of Conservation at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • whether you have any previous experience of work in the general heritage field (e.g. as a volunteer)
  • where you would like to go professionally with the MA in Principles of Conservation
  • whether you intend to take this programme as a prerequisite for the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology in Museums
  • how you envisage your career if you take both the MA and MSc degrees

Degree last modified on 8 March 2018 at 09:37 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing.

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