The Principles of Conservation MA offers students an introduction to the context of heritage conservation, of how conservation works, and of the issues and constraints which affect conservation practice. The programme explores the principles, theory, ethics and practicalities relating to the care and conservation of a wide variety of objects and structures.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2018/19)
- £10,410 (FT) £5,240 (PT)
- £21,440 (FT) £10,740 (PT)
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.
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.
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:
About this degree
Students gain an in-depth understanding of approaches to collections care, preventive conservation, risk assessment, conservation strategies, ethics, management and professionalism, and develop critically aware perspectives on professional practice and research processes.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), optional modules (30 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
Students are required to take the following:
- Issues in Conservation: Context of Conservation
- Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects
- Conservation in Practice: Preventive Conservation
- Skills for Conservation Management
Students choose further optional modules up to the value of 30 credits from the following list of related options (the degree co-ordinator may seek to guide the option choices made by those intending to carry on for the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums.
- Approaches to Artefact Studies
- Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
- Archaeological Glass and Glazes
- Interpreting Pottery
- Materials structure and deterioration of craft materials
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words (90 credits).
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of seminars, lectures, small-group tutorials, workshops and practical projects. Some modules include visits to conservation workshops and museums, including the British Museum, National Trust and the Museum of London. Assessment is through coursework, essays, poster, portfolio, project reports and the dissertation.
Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2018/19. All UK/EU and Overseas fee-paying students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. For an application form please email Lisa Daniel. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2018.
UK students are eligible to apply to the Anna Plowden Trust
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
The Institute of Archaeology has a long history of training in conservation, and many of its graduates are now employed in key posts around the world. Many students go on to take the Conservation for Archaeology and Museums MSc. Others pursue careers in preventive conservation and collections management in local and national museums, art galleries and heritage organisations (mainly in Europe, North America and Asia). Some students have also used this degree as a platform to become a PhD candidate at both UCL and elsewhere.
Top career destinations for this degree
- Freelance Conservator, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)
- Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Conservation, New York University and studying MA in Principles of Conservation, UCL
- Collections Intern, George Washington University Museum - The Textile Museum and studying MA in Principles of Conservation, UCL
- Historic Property Steward, English Heritage
- Assistant Curator, Tower of London
Knowledge and skills acquired during the programme include the understanding of the roles conservators play in the care and study of cultural heritage, and the ethical issues involved. This is complemented by a basic understanding of raw materials, manufacturing technologies, assessment of condition and the ways in which different values and meanings are assigned to cultural objects. The student will be able to perform visual examination techniques as well as assessments and monitoring of museum collections. They will also be proficient in various types of documentation, analysis of numerical data, report writing, and presentation of conservation issues through posters, social media, talks and essays.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK, and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study. Its conservation programmes have an international reputation.
Students benefit from the institute's lively international involvement in archaeology and heritage, from its well-equipped facilities, and access to UCL's extensive science, art and archaeology collections.
The institute's conservation laboratories provide a modern and pleasant learning environment, while the Wolfson Archaeological Science Laboratories provide excellent facilities for the examination and analysis of a wide variety of archaeological materials.
Department: Institute of Archaeology
Student / staff numbers
› 63 staff
including 25 postdocs
› 246 taught students
› 115 research students
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.
Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Institute of Archaeology
73% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
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.
- 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