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Learn the language, ethics, philosophy and practical techniques of metalwork. The practical content of these courses are backed up by a focus on conservation theory, essays, daybooks and professional practice.

Apply for 2015 to be added to the waiting list.

West Dean College offers the only graduate programme in metalwork. The team project with Arundel Castle was terrific! Working with such a prestigious client was really cool. It was a real glimpse of the future for me.

Dorothy Cheng, Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation of Metalwork leading to MA Conservation Studies

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

"All our students love metals, love working with metals and have the need to create, conserve and mend. If you know how it is made and what it is made from you'll understand why it degrades and how to 'fix' it. This sets our course apart from others."
Jon Privett, Tutor


Graduates have gone on to work with high profile museums nationally and internationally, with established conservation businesses or as independent conservators.

Graduate Diploma, one academic year - University of Sussex Award

Following inductions on machinery and processes the workshops are open to students from 7am to 10pm. Practical work is supported by the history, conservation theory and material science of objects, visiting lecturers, group visits to collections, studios and workshops. Organise and undertake work for clients, learn to estimate and tender for work. Seminars, lectures and case studies all help you produce a competitive portfolio of treated objects and workplace skills.

Entry requirements
Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study. You will need to show an interest and ability in conservation and metalsmithing.

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

The strongly practical emphasis of this programme (75%) is based on assessment and treatment of clients’ objects consolidating your skills in the treatment of ferrous metals; copper alloys; base metals and precious and plated metals. All work is grounded by your research into the historical context of each object, visiting lecturers and postgraduate science lecturers. You will network, visit museums and collections, attend seminars and undertake optional work placements to develop professional practice.

Entry requirements
A first degree in Conservation or Museum Studies or completion of West Dean’s Graduate Diploma in Metalwork Conservation. We organise an exhibition of student’s work from both courses, to invited guests including those in the professional conservation field.

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

View the course documentsAdobe Acrobat

MA Conservation Studies extension to Postgraduate Diploma making it 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 full 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 have fulfilled the entry requirements for the MA, subject to the negotiation of an MA project.

MA Collections Care and Management

MA Collections Care and Management (Subject to validation)

Professional Development Diploma, one academic year - West Dean College Award

Students wishing to carry out a Professional Development Diploma in their chosen subject should have experience in a relevant industry, or successful completion of a relevant diploma or degree and the submission of a project proposal and /or research project.

Your tutors

Metalwork Tutor, Jon Privett, was a senior metalwork conservator at Plowden and Smith Ltd before coming to West Dean College in 2007. Jon established and ran a metals conservation workshop and practice carrying out conservation work for museums, private clients, businesses and the antiques trade. The diverse client base and nature of metalwork objects has given him a thorough understanding of how the conservation profession operates across a broad spectrum. He maintains his professional practice and has a bench in the workshop.

Metalwork Associate TutorsBelinda Hager
Programme Advisers include Hazel Newey, former Head of Conservation, Science Museum. Richard Rogers from Richard Rogers Conservation. Alistair Dickenson, specialist in precious metalwork
Programme Leader, Matthew Read, MA.

A career in conservation

Past students have had work placements or been offered employment at The British Museum, The Royal Armouries, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Scotland, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Gold Museum Colombia and at UK businesses including Plowden & Smith Ltd, Hall Conservation Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd.

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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

Conservation Blog

Conservation Blog