Institute of Archaeology


Conservation Studies

This module focuses on conservation of objects from UCL Collections, partner museums, the National Trust and recent excavations, providing an exceptional opportunity to work on museum-quality objects.


In the module, students apply and extend the experience gained in the Conservation Processes module. They acquire skills in examination, risk assessment, stabilisation and reconstruction, documentation, and aiding interpretation of objects, as well as conservation planning and project management.

Aims of the module

This module aims to develop your skills in assessing, understanding and responding to conservation problems presented by a range of archaeological and museum artefacts and projects. This involves understanding aspects of cultural significance, diagnosing problems of condition, designing, testing, applying, and documenting suitable conservation procedures.  The practical skills introduced in this module will be developed further in your Internship (ARCL0107) and will provide a platform for practicing as a professional conservator. By the end of this module you should have the appropriate level of preventive and interventive conservation skills necessary to undertake your internship.


On successful completion of this module a student should:

    • Have a clear understanding of health and safety regulations relating to conservation processes
    • Be able to assess and document aspects of technology, condition and significance of a range of object types.
    • Be able to diagnose conservation problems, review suitable preventive and interventive treatment options, and develop a treatment proposal working within professional guidelines.
    • Be able to communicate conservation priorities and negotiate outcomes with interested groups.
    • Have completed interventive conservation treatments on a range of artefacts made of ceramic, metal, glass, and organic materials.
    • Be able to critically evaluate the results of the conservation process.
    • Understand the use of material culture and the role of the conservator in a range of different contexts
    • Be ready to work effectively during an internship in a museum or similar institution.

    Learning Outcomes

      • Application of acquired knowledge and skills
      • Critical reflection
      • Team-working
      • Working to deadlines
      • Working independently
      • Research skills
      • Documentation and report writing skills
      • Safe laboratory practice

      Teaching Methods

      The module is taught through regular individual tutorial, supervised practical sessions, demonstrations and seminars. You will carry out guided interventive conservation treatments in the conservation laboratories three days per week. Tutors typically examine and discuss your objects with you, evaluate your practice and advise on variation or improvement, suggest alternative treatments or conservation materials, discuss health and safety issues, comment on documentation, recommend specific reading, introduce you to other specialists, and so on.

      Group fieldwork projects take place in association with partner institutions including the National Trust. Further details will be discussed with the class and the final arrangements will be agreed prior to the projects commencing.

      During this module you will develop your understanding of conservation by applying the processes learned in the other two taught modules of the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums: Conservation Materials Science (ARCL0106), and Conservation Processes (ARCL0104) to the treatment of archaeological and museum objects. You are expected to approach this work within the theoretical frameworks established during the MA in Principles of Conservation programme.

      Module information

      • Code: ARCL0105 
      • Credits: 60
      • Coordinator: Dean Sully
      • Prerequisite: Completion of the MA in Principles of Conservation (or similar programme, or professional experience that has covered similar issues) and a good knowledge of chemistry are prerequisites for the MSc Programme. You will have been accepted to the programme on the understanding that you already have sufficient background in archaeology or a relevant field, either through your previous degree, or though relevant experience, to be able to follow the programme.
      • Handbook: open»

      For registered students

      • Moodle page: open»
      • Reading list: 


      • Runs every year