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Clocks and Related Objects

West Dean's internationally recognised horology courses equip students with the technical and practical skills demanded by professional practice. Projects include working on historic objects. Recent work has included Clock conservation the Pyke Organ Clock, Edward Cockey of Warminster’s Astronomical Longcase Clock; the Mantel clock by Breguet with significant historical provenance, and an important French Revolutionary Clock by Cellier.

Still accepting applications for 2015 entry.

“The I chose West Dean College because the focus is on applied practical skills. I did not want yet another
theory-based course from a university. I wanted something that will set me up for life as a craftsman."

Jon Columbo, Diploma in Conservation of Clocks

For more insights from Jon and other students please see the 2015 prospectus.

"Not only do our students get to design and make their own mechanical clock from scratch, they learn how to apply historic context to their working decisions. We tailor the range and complexity of work to suit individual needs, ensuring our students get lots of individual tuition as they develop their skills and understanding.”

Matthew Read, Programme Leader


Graduates have followed diverse career paths including working as conservators for the heritage, public, corporate and private sectors, or as makers, repairers, restorers, teachers or advisors. There are many areas of specialism within the profession.

Foundation Degree in Historic Craft Practices

Newly developed for 2015 September intake is a Historic Craft Practices (with your chosen focus of Clocks, Furniture or Stringed Musical Instruments) (subject to validation)

Find out more here

West Dean College Diploma, two academic years – West Dean College award

Entry requirements
An interest in horology and good general education combined with a desire to attain the appropriate level of hand skills.

Graduate Diploma, one academic year – University of Sussex award

Entry requirements
Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study e.g. HNC, HND, DipHE and an interest in horology.

English language:
CEFR (Common European Framework of
Reference for Languages) level B1 or ILETS 6.0

View the course documentsAdobe Acrobat

Postgraduate Diploma, one academic year – University of Sussex award

Entry requirements
Successful completion of West Dean’s Graduate Diploma in Conservation of Clocks and Related Objects, or appropriate relevant experience, or a good first degree in a relevant subject.

English language:
CEFR (Common European Framework of
Reference for Languages) level B1 or ILETS 6.0

The diplomas explore the properties of materials used in conservation treatments with an introduction to the analytical laboratory and instrumentation used in conservation. Work on historic objects and supported with documentation and photography. Study the history and cultural context of clocks and how to use this knowledge when making treatment decisions.

Learn about preventative conservation, including, non-interventive practice, environmental control, pest control, plus the moving, handling and storage of historic objects. We invite international experts, lecturers and tutors in fields such as blacksmithing, gilding, lacquering, history and visiting specialist restorers. We arrange a display of students’ work from both Diplomas for invited guests, including those in the professional conservation field.

View the course documentsAdobe Acrobat

MA Conservation Studies, one calendar year – University of Sussex award

All Postgraduate Diplomas at West Dean can be transferred into the MA Degree programmes, extending your study from one academic year to a calendar year. In February students on postgraduate programmes start MA units in addition to the remainder of their Postgraduate Diploma.

On successful completion of the full academic year in July, students will have finished their Postgraduate Diploma and completed a significant amount of MA introductory study. In July, students start their major projects for the MA degree which involve a further 10-week period of study with a final assessment towards the end of September.

Entry requirements
Candidates registered on the postgraduate diploma in Conservation of Clocks and Related Objects will have fulfilled the entry requirements for the MA, subject to the negotiation of an appropriate MA project.

Professional Development Diploma, one academic year - West Dean College award.

Develop either a new-making project based on historic practice using a wide range of materials, and techniques both historic and modern or a continued advanced conservation project.

Entry requirements
Submit a project proposal and/or research project.

Our programmes are recognised by the BHI.

Programme Leader, Matthew Read MA ACR, built up a reputation as a clock conservator in the UK and Europe before joining West Dean in 2009. After graduating from West Dean he worked at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich from 2000 – 2004, as a Conservator and Assistant Curator of Horology. This was followed by five years as a self-employed conservator working on projects within the field of Conservation and Repair of Clocks and Automata.

Associate Tutor, Malcolm Archer.
A former West Dean College student, Malcolm previously worked at The British Museum and is a contract conservator at the Society of Antiquaries in London.

As part of our programme of field and site visits we have lectures from:
David Thompson former Curator of Horology, The British Museum
David Rooney, The Science Museum
Jonathan Betts, The National Maritime Museum
Oliver Cooke, The British Museum

Programme Advisors
David Rooney – The Science Museum
Geoff Allnutt – J E Allnut & Son
Tobias Birch – Montpellier Clocks

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To find out more call our Academic Office + 44 (0)1243 818 291. Email us at diplomas@westdean.org.uk

Related information

Download a Prospectus

Download a Prospectus

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