MA in 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.

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