Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media MSc

London, Stratford (UCL East)

This exciting two-year MSc Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media offers a unique opportunity to undertake vocational training in the conservation of contemporary sculpture, installation, and time-based art and design media works, including conceptual, digital, socially engaged, performance-based and mixed media works. 

While ensuring that students are engaged with the critical debates around contemporary art and design conservation and stewardship, the programme is grounded in hands-on training for real-world situations.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
2 calendar years
4 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 05 Apr 2024

Applications closed

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Early applications are advised to avoid disappointment. Places are limited and allocated on a continuous basis from September 2023 until all places are filled.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper secord-class degree BA, BASc or BSc from a UK university or an overseas equivalent. UCL will consider an equivalent level of work experience in lieu of an honours degree.

The programme is open to a broad range of backgrounds including (but are not limited to): arts, humanities, and social sciences e.g., arts, area studies, archaeology, anthropology, conservation, critical studies (including gender, queer, and race studies), geography, heritage and museum studies, history, history of art; and physical sciences and engineering, e.g., biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer and data science, physics, any area of engineering.

The programme encourages those who have been out of formal education for a while but have a wealth of relevant experience to apply. For example, you may currently be working in a related field and wish to develop your career by gaining a qualification in conservation. The programme is offered both full time and part time.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

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.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

  • Are you an advocate for the art and culture of our time, able to engage with the significant challenges of the day? 
  • Do you want to work closely with art and artists, responding to the changing nature of emerging artistic practice?
  • Can you bring an interdisciplinary focus combining scientific and humanities-based thinking through working with contemporary art and heritage? 
  • Would you like to develop your skills to handle, treat and manage artworks? 
  • Are you able to work collaboratively to understand and address complex real-world problems?

The programme will produce contemporary art conservators ready to address the challenges of caring for the art of our time within a rapidly changing world. The degree focuses on conserving contemporary sculpture, installation, time-based art and design media works, including conceptual, performance, digital and mixed media works. 

The programme's content will reflect current debates impacting how we conserve, steward and care for contemporary art, design and media, thinking about the values and histories underpinning conservation practice and urgent challenges facing the sector more broadly. This thinking underpins a programme fundamentally grounded in hands-on training for real-world situations.

Who this course is for

The MSc suits students interested in doctoral research or pursuing a career in the conservation of contemporary art, design and media; this includes careers in museums, cultural heritage institutions, arts non-profit organisations, artist’s studios or private conservation practices. The MSc will provide preparation for careers in fields such as collection or gallery management, digital preservation and heritage management.

What this course will give you

This forward-facing programme will train the next generation of contemporary art conservators to develop and implement conservation strategies for a wide range of contemporary artistic practices. 

The programme offers interdisciplinary teaching and research, drawing on cutting-edge humanities and sciences thinking. Increasingly, conservators are required to have not only expert material knowledge and hand skills but also the capacity to draw on thinking from a range of fields to resolve complex conceptual questions related to issues such as the authenticity of objects, obsolescence, ideas of the future and an expanded understanding of the ethics and politics of conservation. 

Conservators working in this field also have excellent skills in collaborative working, engaging closely with artists and their networks, curators and communities to build connections to understand better and support the care of artworks. The programme will enable its students to engage in the urgent challenges faced by the conservation of contemporary art and culture, from understanding how the climate emergency is changing the way we think about the conservation of collections to thinking about how issues of racial and social equity are reflected in conservation practice and engaging with conservation as an agent of change within society. 

Conservators think across three temporalities:

  • Understanding the history of an artwork and how it was made.
  • Working with others to bring it to current audiences.
  • Imagining and planning for the future of a work.

Hands-on object-based studio work complements the learning delivered in the specialised conservation training, based on a firm understanding of contemporary conservation theory and ethics. By learning with professionals and specialist practitioners from within the sector, you will gain knowledge of various career pathways and possibilities for further networking.

The foundation of your career

As this is a new programme, there have yet to be alumni. The MSc is designed to provide specialised practical training in conservation and hands-on sector experience. Students can build their portfolio throughout the programme and develop industry connections through the second-year placement. 


The MSc will prepare students for careers in the conservation of contemporary art, design and media, including museums, cultural heritage institutions, arts non-profit organisations, artist’s studios and private conservation practices, collection or gallery management, digital preservation and heritage management. Some students may also continue to doctoral research.


The History of Art Department has a very active research culture, hosting regular events with visiting artists, scholars, and curators worldwide as part of our Research Seminar Series, the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, and Past Imperfect. The programme also sits within the interdisciplinary School of Cultural and Creative Industries (SCCI). Connecting three academic faculties, SCCI links teaching and research focused on technology, media, history, heritage, collections and conservation, and art and creativity and will foster new research partnerships and forms of innovation and engagement with a range of partners. 

The programme has also developed specific partnerships with various local, UK and overseas organisations, connecting us to the sector internationally. Our UCL East campus has collaboration at the heart of its design with world-class laboratories, media facilities, object-based learning and maker spaces. Conservation is inherently interdisciplinary and extraordinarily well-placed to thrive in an environment that combines arts and sciences. You will also have access to the Bloomsbury campus, which offers unrivalled access to a wide range of public events and shared seminars.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a mix of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Studio practice, lab work and gallery visits will provide you with the hands-on skills needed to observe, examine, and intervene in contemporary cultural heritage. You will develop the digital skills necessary to undertake forensic examination and intervene in media artworks. All students will complete a work placement and either a dissertation or project paper during the second year.

You will be assessed through a combination of methods, including poster production, exhibitions, essays, reports and a dissertation or project paper. While working towards your degree, you will design and gather materials for your portfolio, essential for early career conservators entering the job market. 

Students typically have five contact hours a week and should expect around 25 hours of self-directed study.


Year One
You will receive hands-on training in the visual and material examination of artworks, conservation principles and practices, and the key ethical and political issues impacting the discipline. The Advanced Seminar in the Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media, delivered collaboratively with the V&A, will expose you to a range of object and museum conservation challenges.

As part of Communicating Conservation, you will complete a collaborative project resulting in a creative output, e.g. an exhibition display, film or audio, or photography.

The third term will include a project working on an artwork or design object through studio-based practice. Students must take EITHER Studio Practice: Conservation of Time-based Media OR Studio Practice: Conservation of Contemporary Materials.

Year Two
Central to the second year is a work placement at one of the institutions with which the programme has a partnership, culminating in a dissertation or project report.

You may undertake your studies part-time for four years instead of two.

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 are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 360 credits. Upon successful completion of 360 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media.


The programme includes a placement during the first term of the second year.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: History of Art MA

UCL History of Art is one of the most dynamic centres for the study of art history and visual cultures in the world. The MA in History of Art is a challenging and versatile degree designed for those with a first degree in history of art, or with some experience of the subject and who have a high level of commitment and an aptitude for academic work.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £15,100 £7,550
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

Additional costs

The programme includes study visits, e.g., one-off visits to museums, galleries, and heritage sites in and around London. We expect students to pay:

  • Their own fares to travel to classes held anywhere within the M25
  • The entrance fee to any admission-charging exhibition or museum class visits; the teacher will usually negotiate a group discount if this is significantly cheaper than the individual student discount.

The programme includes a placement during the second year. We expect the students to pay any additional costs, such as accommodation, subsistence, visa costs, travel, etc.

Students who are facing financial hardships can apply for UCL Financial Assistance Funds.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

The Anna Plowden Trust Scholarship

Up to £3000 available for a one-year conservation course, paid directly to the Institution for exceptional UK-based students.

UCL East Scholarship

The scholarship supports the ambitions of East Londoners by funding the fees and living costs of eligible Master's programmes, including this MSc at UCL. Further details at:

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Gabo Trust Scholarship for MSc Conservation of Contemporary Art and Media

Deadline: 3 June 2024
Value: 50% tuition fees (2yrs)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK, EU, Overseas

UCL East London Scholarship

Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

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.

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 Application fees.

Prospective students will need to submit a personal statement with their application, stating: • their motivation to pursue a career in conservation • how their background has prepared them for undertaking this Graduate Taught Degree • their interests, knowledge, and skills • their understanding of some aspects of conservation and collection care work with examples demonstrating their visual and manual dexterity and skills. Prospective students may also be required to interview as part of the application process. The assessor will consider your statement, undergraduate degree transcript, CV / work experience and interview (where relevant) when making their decision.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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