Institute of Archaeology

Conservation in Practice: Preventative Conservation

Aims of the course


Over recent years, the emphasis in conservation has turned increasingly from remedial conservation (putting right what has gone wrong in the past) to preventive conservation (making sure that things do not go wrong in the future). This shift in emphasis has been evident in both objects conservation and site conservation.

The course aims to provide a wide-ranging and challenging introduction to preventive conservation. The course is concerned primarily, but not exclusively, with archaeological objects, as opposed to structures and sites. It provides an introduction to environmental management and to some of the practical aspects of preventive conservation. It also examines some of the underlying issues, such as the appropriateness and feasibility of prescriptive guidelines for environmental control.


On successful completion of this course a student should:

Be aware of the main processes by which archaeological and ethnographic objects deteriorate,whether in situ, during burial, or on display.

  • Know how to stabilise objects by the control of their environment.
  • Be able to monitor the environment in a gallery, storeroom or show case, and make recommendations for implementing any necessary improvements.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to demonstrate/have developed:

  • Analyse numerical data and be aware of its significance
  • Present reports summarising quantitative data
  • Undertake critical analysis of diverse literature

Teaching Methods

The course is taught by lectures, workshops, demonstrations and visits. Each session has recommended readings, which you will be expected to have read in advance, so that you can follow discussion of the topic and contribute actively to it.

In most weeks, there will also be a regular seminar for which we will split into smaller groups.

Course information

  • Code: ARCLG140
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: James Hales
  • Prerequisite: : not available as an option to those taking other degrees.
  • Handbook: open»

For registered students


  • Runs every year

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