Principles of Conservation MA

London, Bloomsbury

The Principles of Conservation MA offers students an introduction to the context of heritage conservation, how conservation works, and 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 collections and structures.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£14,100
£7,050
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£29,000
£14,500
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

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.

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: 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. International Preparation Courses

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

This cross-disciplinary degree has a strong focus on critical thinking and 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 collection care, preventive conservation, risk assessment, conservation strategies, ethics, management and professionalism, and develop critically aware perspectives on professional practice and research processes.

Who this course is for

The programme is designed for students with experience in heritage, anthropology, archaeology, culture and/or fine arts. Ideally, you should also be able to provide evidence of some experience in the heritage/museum sector. 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 collection care, preventive conservation and management. It is a prerequisite for the two-year MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums.

What this course will give you

The MA Principles of Conservation uses innovatory teaching methods that enrich students’ experience and place us at the cutting edge of international conservation training. The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest and most diverse departments 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, research, 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.

The foundation of your career

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.

Employability

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 collection management in local and national museums, art galleries and heritage organisations. Some students have also used this degree as a platform for PhD study at UCL and elsewhere.

Teaching and learning

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, practical sessions or technical visits, up to 5% in advisory or supplemental engagement sessions, and about 45% working on independent study and research

Modules

The programme will provide you with an introduction to the principles, theory and ethics of conservation of different kinds of collections. You will consider issues relating to material fabric, preventive conservation, managerial skills, ethics, values and interest groups associated with objects, participatory approaches to conservation decision-making, communication, and public outreach. There is a strong focus on object-based learning through the use of UCL collections.  

You will attend the taught modules in Terms 1 and 2. These comprise compulsory modules covering the theory and practice of conservation, and two further modules chosen in consultation with your supervisor.  In Term 2  you will identify a topic for your dissertation and a supervisor will be appointed. You will write your dissertation during Term 3 and over the summer.

The programme will provide you with an introduction to the principles, theory and ethics of conservation of different kinds of collections. You will consider issues relating to material fabric, preventive conservation, managerial skills, ethics, values and interest groups associated with objects, participatory approaches to conservation decision-making, communication, and public outreach. There is a strong focus on object-based learning through the use of UCL collections. 

Teaching takes place during terms one and two. Those who undertake part-time study will discuss their pathway through the degree with the degree co-ordinator. Typically students will take the compulsory core modules in the first year and select their optional modules in order to spread these out to year two. The dissertation is discussed in year 1 and completed at the end of year two. We endeavour to be flexible to the needs of part-time students in designing their pathway through the degree over two years.

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. 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 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Principles of Conservation.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest centres for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain. Join us for a Virtual Graduate Open Event to find out more about our wide range of Master's programmes, how our programmes are taught, and what it's like to study at the Institute of Archaeology. Please contact Lisa Daniel, Graduate Admissions Administrator (l.daniel@ucl.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

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

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 Home 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.

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.

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 museum or 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

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: 2023-2024

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