Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects

Postgraduate Diploma Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects

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Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time

The Postgraduate Diploma brings together practical, theoretical, scientific and technical studies into a unified approach to the treatment and preservation of furniture and related objects. Further develop your specialist craft and conservation skills. Evaluate methodologies, critique and propose new hypothesis. Plan and implement technically complex projects. Completion of the first component of the course can serve as a pathway onto the MA Conservation Studies.

You can expect

To develop excellent practical skills through object-based treatments
To work on technically complex projects
To study preventative conservation
To work on live historic projects

Learning environment

High tutor: student ratio
Workshop access 7am-10pm, 7 days a week
Interdisciplinary environment
Teaches students to understand and apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation
Visits from specialists from the heritage and private sectors
Visits to museums and active links with heritage bodies

Contact Hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits, work placement and workshop practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

On the Postgraduate Diploma you typically have around 15-16 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 3-4 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised workshop practicals (including time spent on placement)
  • 2 hours of external trips & visits (on average)
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

Postgraduate Diploma: 47% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 565 hours, Independent learning: 635 hours.

Programme Structure

Programme Structure


You will work in our specialist Furniture workshop where each student has an individual workspace. The workshop is equipped with a full range of power and hand tools.

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Entry requirements

To join the PGDip/MA programme you will need to have a good first degree in Conservation or a closely related field; or have completed a Graduate Diploma in a closely related subject; or demonstrate an equivalent proficiency in basic conservation science, academic skills (research, writing and critical analysis) and practical hand skills, including manual sensitivity and dexterity. Progression to the MA is subject to the successful completion of the first semester and the identification of an appropriate MA project. Students may choose to exit the programme at the Postgraduate Diploma stage.

English language:
CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.


  • UK/EU Fee: £13,560
  • International: £13,560

Tuition fees include much more than is typical of universities, i.e. tuition fees plus basic materials, lunch, morning/afternoon tea/coffee. Included is mandatory study trip cost of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. For one day study trips lunch is provided, while for residential study trips meals are not included.

Additional costs
Accommodation and living expenses are additional.

Currently a third of all tuition fees are met through bursary or scholarship funding.
In 16/17 almost 60% of students were in receipt of some support. Find out about funding here.

New Postgraduate Loans

If you are a UK student and plan to take a postgraduate Master's course you may be able to get a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 to help with course fees and living costs.


Student Perspective

The Furniture and Related Objects Conservation programme provided a diverse range of objects to work on, from the teaching collection, private clients, public institutions and through interdisciplinary projects. This year I worked collaboratively on a late 17th century Dutch marquetry mirror from Petworth House. Being a student at West Dean also enables you to secure work placements; I went to Brighton Pavillion, Knole House and the Musical Instrument Museum in Edinburgh.

I have recently been offered the permanent full-time position of Furniture Conservator at Windsor Castle, where I will be working on furniture across all the Royal residences. I could not have hoped for a better outcome, that without my experiences at West Dean would not have been possible.

Michelle Kirk

Postgraduate Diploma/MA Conservation Studies


From the Postgraduate Diploma students usually progress to MA Conservation Studies.

Graduates go on to work as conservators with public and private collections within the heritage sector nationally and internationally, with conservation businesses or as independent conservators, furniture-makers, designers or restorers.

"I chose to study at West Dean as it has such a good reputation in the industry. I like having so much access to the workshops and working on quality objects, as well as the small class sizes. A highlight has been tuition in applied science from an Associate Lecturer one day a week and learning from his practical experience working at the V&A." Cathy Silverman, Postgraduate Diploma - Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects


Norbert Gutowski

Subject Leader, Furniture & Related Objects

Associate Fellow of the HEA

Norbert is a furniture maker - conservator with almost two decades of tutoring experience, who has also worked extensively as a fine antique furniture conservator- restorer.

Tristram Bainbridge MA ACR

Tristram works as a contract furniture conservator at the V&A and in private practice. He has lectured in conservation at the City and Guilds of London and at Camberwell College of Art.

Program advisors

  • Christopher Claxton Stevens: Decorative Arts Scholar and Consultant
  • Richard Coles: Antique Furniture Dealer
  • Kate Gill: Textile Conservator

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.

Apply now for Degree and Diploma study

Apply now: we are still accepting applications for all subjects for 2019 entry

Applications are welcome from UK/EU and International students.

Learn more about applying and entry

Find out about funding opportunities