Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such a unique place to study with an international reputation.Find out more
Conservation of Books and Library Materials
The Graduate Diploma provides the theoretical and practical knowledge and experience necessary to start your career as a conservator and to begin to develop an area of specialisation. The programme is designed to be accessible from both the humanities and science study backgrounds and has an international reputation for developing book conservation skills.
Learn how to assess and record the condition of books to produce a complete record of work. Develop a repertoire of conservation treatments for books ranging from simple enclosure, to repair and reinstatement of the parts.
You can expect
You will work in a purpose-built space for book conservation with two workshops as well as a bindery with individual student work benches and a demonstration bench. The bindery is fully equipped with sewing and forwarding equipment, board chopper, light boxes, finishing room and science lab. Students each have their own benches with storage and can access the studio from 8.30am to 10pm, allowing you to take full advantage of your time at West Dean College. You will also have access to facilities shared with other departments, including:
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.Find out more about the facilities
On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 24 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study for approximately 13-14 hours per week. Typically, this will involve:
Graduate Diploma: 60% of your time is spent in
scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 720 hours
Independent learning: 480 hours
|Semester 1 (18 weeks)|
|Study block 1 (12 weeks)||Christmas vacation||Study block 2 (6 weeks)|
Introducing Professional Practice (40 credits)
Introducing Conservation Science (10 credits)
Contextual and Professional Studies 1 (10 credits)
|Semester 2 (18 weeks)|
|Study block 3 (6 weeks)||Easter vacation||Study block 4 (12 weeks)|
Developing Professional Practice (10 credits)
Research Through Practice (30 credits)
Conservation Science: Development and Applications (10 credits)
Contextual and Professional Studies 2 (10 credits)
Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study (e.g. HND. FdA or DipHE) and an interest or experience in object conservation and cultural heritage. Alternatively, accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will be considered for those who have been out of formal education for some years and are over 21, who do not meet the general (minimum) entrance requirements, but who can demonstrate their capacity for degree-level work in other ways.
International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.
If you fulfil the entry requirements you will be invited to visit the College for an interview with the programme tutor and another senior member of academic staff, and undertake a practical test if applicable.
Course fees are the same for UK and international students
Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.
Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more
If you are a UK/EU student you may be eligible to apply for a Student Loan (tuition fees and/or maintenance loans) from the Student Loans Company. There are also a variety of Scholarship and Bursary awards available for students who have accepted an offer to study here. Applicants for a scholarship should show outstanding potential and a commitment to their studies and future career in their chosen subject. Applicants for a bursary award are required to demonstrate financial need.
Graduates of the programme usually transition to the MA Conservation Studies. Others pursue entry level positions in the heritage sector.
Work as a conservation professional in a museum, library or archive, with public and private collections, pursue a career path into collections care and management or as an independent book conservator. Graduates have gone on to work on books at Cambridge University Library, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Smithsonian Institution, Chester Beatty Library, Dundee University Library, PZ Conservation, Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and Lambeth Palace Library.
"West Dean has given me the opportunity to work with exceptional objects while enhancing my conservation knowledge and preparing me for a successful career in conservation."
Noah Smutz, Postgraduate Diploma, Conservation of Books and Library Materials
Mariluz Beltran de Guevara ACR - Subject Leader Conservation of Books
Mariluz Beltran de Guevara has been an accredited book and paper conservator since 2008, and joined West Dean College in 2017 after many years at the British Library.
Abigail Bainbridge co-owns Bainbridge Conservation, specialising in the conservation of books and paper for private clients and institutions. She has worked as a conservator as well as actively teaching workshops in bookbinding and book conservation internationally.
Jane Eagan: Book Conservator, Oxford Colleges Conservation Consortium