Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials

Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies, specialising in Ceramics

Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies, specialising in Ceramics
Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time
​Application deadline for equal consideration: 15 January 2020

Register now for Open Day on Friday 6 December.
Find out more about funding opportunities.

The Graduate Diploma is your opportunity to develop the skills and competences to work towards becoming a professional ceramics conservator. You will start with basic treatments while being introduced to a diverse range of objects, then undertake progressively more complex conservation projects, from archaeological finds to decorative arts objects from a range of cultures and stylistic periods.

You can expect

  • To acquire and practise both established and developing techniques
  • To study ceramic technology, material culture and materials science
  • To work on artefacts from historical and private collections

Learning environment

  • Low student: tutor ratio
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Well-equipped workshop
  • Individual workspace for each student
  • Workshop access 8.30am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • Icon Professional Standards in Conservation

How to apply

If you would like to apply for this course, please do so through UCAS by 15 January 2020.

If you would like further information please contact our admissions team. Email or call +44 (0)1243 818 291.

Apply through UCAS


You will work in our well-equipped workshop with specialist facilities for cleaning, retouching and finishing. Facilities include:

  • Pottery studio for making, firing and finishing new work
  • Areas for photography and microscopy
  • Wet room for cleaning processes
  • Analytical laboratory

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

Contact Hours


On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 24 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 6 hours of lectures or demonstrations
  • 1 hour of seminars and peer to peer presentations
  • 14 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 2 hours of external trips and 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 for approximately 13-14 hours per week. Typically, this will involve:

  • Reading journal articles and books
  • Working on individual and group projects
  • Undertaking research in the library
  • Preparing coursework assignments and presentations

Overall workload

Graduate Diploma: 60% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 720 hours
Independent learning: 480 hours

Programme structure

Semester 1 (18 weeks)
Study block 1 (12 weeks) Christmas vacation Study block 2 (6 weeks)

Unit G1A

Introducing Professional Practice (40 credits)

Unit G1B

Introducing Conservation Science (10 credits)

Unit G1C

Contextual and Professional Studies 1 (10 credits)

Semester 2 (18 weeks)
Study block 3 (6 weeks) Easter vacation Study block 4 (12 weeks)

Unit G2A

Developing Professional Practice (10 credits)


Unit G3A

Research Through Practice (30 credits)

Unit G2B

Conservation Science: Development and Applications (10 credits)

Unit G2C

Contextual and Professional Studies 2 (10 credits)



Entry Requirements

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

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £4,230 per term (£12,690 per year)

Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.

Additional costs

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.

Find out more about funding opportunities


Graduates of the programme usually transition to the MA Conservation Studies. Others pursue entry level positions in the heritage sector. Graduates have had placements at, or gone on to work with the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Collection Trust, Ashmolean Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, National Museums Liverpool, National Museums Scotland, Cliveden
Conservation, Plowden and Smith Ltd. and Sarah Peek Conservation.

"I have had the opportunity to work on some truly impressive and important objects requiring varying degrees of treatment. One completed project was the conservation of a Chinese Export Hard-Paste Porcelain Blue and White 'Soldier' Vase and Lid, from the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) from the factories possibly in Jingdezhen in China.

A comprehensive programme of work included the removal and dismantling of previous restoration, cleaning, bonding and filling areas to replace lost material and retouching missing decoration. Thorough examination and research was undertaken, supported by documentary photographs, to assess the condition and to observe the extent of the previous repairs. It has been an immense pleasure to work on such a challenging, historically important and decorative piece."

Harriet Sylvester, Graduate Diploma, Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials


Lorna Calcutt MA ACR

Subject Leader, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

Lorna has been a tutor then Subject Leader at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation for 16 years and prior to that was employed as a conservator in national institutions and in the private sector.

Jasmina Vučković MA ACR

Subject Tutor, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

Jasmina Vuckovic is Subject Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. She has been a visiting lecturer at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation prior to becoming a subject tutor in 2018. Jasmina is a member of ICOM and accredited member of Icon.

Program advisors

  • Reino Liefkes - Curator of Ceramics, the Victoria and Albert Museum​
  • Victoria Oakley - Head of Objects Conservation Section, Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Errol Manners - BADA member; Specialist in European & English Porcelain
  • Loretta Hogan - Senior Ceramics Conservator, the British Museum

Open Day - register today

Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such an amazing place to study. Explore the studios, take a tour with students, discuss your study options, and find out about funding at our next Open Day on:

Friday 6 December 2019

Register your place and find out more