Institute of Archaeology


Conservation Processes

This module provides students with a knowledge and understanding of conservation practice.

Lectures and demonstrations cover the techniques and processes of conservation. Students then work independently or in small groups (with staff supervision) to develop their skills through practical projects focused on evaluation and selection of conservation methods and materials. There is an emphasis on learning through experimentation and independent problem solving.

Aims of the module

To provide a good knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of conservation procedures. To provide experience in evaluation, selection, and application of the main materials, equipment and techniques used in the conservation of archaeological, ethnographic and historic objects.


By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of conservation materials and processes
  • demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of the range of treatments in current use for ceramics, glass, plasters, metals and organics
  • recognise and take into account the factors that may affect choice of conservation procedures
  • evaluate materials and methods and their suitability for application to objects in a range of different contexts
  • work in the conservation laboratories in a safe and responsible manner in accordance with current health and safety regulations
  • design and plan a laboratory project, taking into account time, materials and other resources required
  • undertake a laboratory-based project working at a sensible speed; and making proper use of tools and equipment
  • make clear, concise conservation records.

      Learning Outcomes

      • application of acquired knowledge and skills
      • safe laboratory practice
      • critical reflection
      • team-working
      • documentation and report writing skills

      Teaching Methods

      The module is taught over the first two terms, through weekly two-hour seminars, and laboratory demonstrations. The demonstrations are followed by practical periods in the laboratories when you can practice and perfect laboratory techniques.

      Module information

      • Code: ARCL0104
      • Credits: 30
      • Coordinator: Dean Sully
      • Prerequisite: Completion of the MA in Principles of Conservation (or its equivalent), and a good knowledge of chemistry are prerequisite for the MSc programme for which this is a core module.
      • Handbook: open»

      For registered students


      • Running in 2019-20