Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects

Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies, specialising in Furniture and Related Objects

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

There is significant emphasis placed on developing hand skills through practical work. Your application of treatments to historic objects will be underpinned through understanding both structural and decorative materials, their properties, identification, degradation and stabilisation. Learn about interventive treatment, structural and surface stabilisation, cleaning, consolidation, restoration of losses, materials and techniques, theory and practice.

Develop an understanding and appreciation of the history and cultural context of furniture and related objects and the architectural interiors they were created to be part of. Study wood and other decorative art materials associated with furniture including surface coatings: transparent, gilded, painted or lacquered.

You can expect

  • To develop excellent practical skills
  • To learn historic making techniques
  • To study preventative conservation

Learning environment

  • Well-equipped workshop with access 8.30am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • Individual work benches for each student
  • Dedicated finishing area and separate machine shop
  • High tutor: student ratio
  • 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
  • Work placement in a professional studio

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


The specialist furniture workshop is equipped with a full range of power and hand tools and individual workspaces for each student. There is a dedicated finishing area, and a separate machine shop. 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

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 often progress to the MA Conservation Studies or can typically go on to work as conservators within the heritage sector, nationally and internationally, with conservation
businesses or as independent conservators, furnituremakers, designers or restorers. Alumni can be found in institutions including The Royal Collection Trust and the Science Museum.

Student Perspective

"This has been an intensive year of great visits to museums with behind-the-scenes experiences, instruction from expert furniture conservation professionals, and my own workbench and projects including 18th and 19th century chairs, clocks, a gate-leg table, tea-caddie, and much more. West Dean's comprehensive approach to conservation studies combines both academic studies and intensive practical skills development by working on authentic historical objects. I've gained a greater appreciation of cultural heritage and the confidence to carefully work on a variety of objects."

Cathy Gorton
Graduate Diploma

"It has given me the opportunity to learn about the very different approach to craft in England with its long historical tradition, and to work on historically important objects"

Franciszek de Sage, Graduate Diploma, Conservation of Furniture and Related Objects


Norbert Gutowski

Subject Leader, Furniture and 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

Subject Tutor, Furniture and Related Objects

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

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