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
Part-time students will usually attend two days a week.
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
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
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
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
This cross-disciplinary 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. 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).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Principles of Conservation.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
Students are required to take the following:
- Conservation in Cross-Disciplinary Contexts
- Investigating and Understanding Objects
- 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.
- Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
- Archaeological Glass and Glazes
- Archaeometallurgy: Mining and Extractive Technology
- Interpreting Pottery
- Structure and Deterioration of Craft Materials
- Working with artefacts and assemblages
Detailed descriptions of the core courses and modules can be found here. Please note not all modules are available every year.
The 15,000 word dissertation (90 credits) is on any approved topic relevant to the degree and taught components. It is produced as a result of an individual research project undertaken during the course.
Examples of past projects include:
- conservation for the blind
- decolonization and conservation of aboriginal art and artifacts
- the conservation and presentation of historic ships
- thinking outside the longbox: preventive conservation in comic book shops
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.
While week to week schedules will vary, students can expect to spend 25% of their time in lectures, 25% in tutorials, practicals or technical visits, up to 5% in advisory or supplemental engagement sessions, and about 45% working on independent study and research
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2021/22. 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 2021.
UK students are eligible to apply to the Anna Plowden Trust
Heritage and Museums Diversity Scholarship: The UCL Institute of Archaeology is funding a heritage diversity scholarship for a candidate from black and minority ethnic backgrounds as these groups are currently under-represented within the heritage sector. The scholarship covers course fees only for a UK/EU student.
For further details and an application form please see here.
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.
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 preventive conservation, collections general care and management, visual examination and condition assessment techniques, surveys, as well as risk assessments and monitoring of museum collections. They will also be proficient in various types of documentation, analysis of numerical data, report writing, public outreach, and presentation of conservation issues through posters, social media, talks and essays.
Why study this degree at UCL?
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 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.
This MA will give you 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.
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.
Department: Institute of Archaeology
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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
This cross-disciplinary degree is designed for students with experience in heritage, anthropology, archaeology, culture and/or fine arts. The programme does not provide practical training in interventive conservation treatments, 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.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2021
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
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