Principles of Conservation MA

London, Bloomsbury

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.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
£12,900
£6,450
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
£26,600
£13,300
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 20 May 2022

Applications closed

Notification

Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

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.

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.

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 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. 

Who this course is for

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.

What this course will give you

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.

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 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.

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

Modules

Full-time

The programme will provide you with an introduction to the principles, theory and ethics of archaeological conservation. 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.  

The programme will provide you with knowledge and skills to work in several conservation contexts and cross-disciplines. Through a combination of lectures, seminars and objects-based activities, you will be fully equipped to working on collections care and preventive conservation, or to move on to doctoral research. 

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.

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 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: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Funding your studies

The Funding your studies session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Funding and Student Recruitment teams, provides information and guidance about the various scholarships and funding opportunities for graduate study at UCL.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £12,900 £6,450
Tuition fees (2022/23) £26,600 £13,300

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 to students

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

Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: three studentships to the value of Home fees for the degree the successful applicant has been accepted onto. Home and International students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. The deadline for applications is 1st March 2022. For further information and to download an application see here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/study/graduate-taught/applying/ucl-institute-archaeology-masters-award Any queries please email Lisa Daniel. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2022.

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.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Deadline: 11 July 2022
Value: Full tuition fees (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Heritage and Museums Opportunity Scholarship

Deadline: 1 March 2022
Value: Full Home Fees (1yr)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: UK

Institute of Archaeology International Masters Student Award

Deadline: 1 March 2022
Value: Up to £26,000 (1yr)
Criteria Based on academic merit
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

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 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 in any application cycle.

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