The Graduate Diploma (Level 6) is the start of your transition into Conservation Studies. 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. Students choose one of the pathway specialisms below, yet elements of interdisciplinary work are still involved.
The use of analytical technologies in conservation is driven by the need to understand the work and its condition. When assessing a historical object you will look at material makeup, method of production or artistic techniques used and areas of damage or deterioration.
In addition to the extensive facilities each specialist studio and workshop has, is the new Science Laboratory (opened late 2019) and our Art and Conservation Library. The science equipment and laboratory has recently undergone a significant upgrade. The facilities have been developed to give students knowledge and a familiarity with their general application to perform analytical techniques commonly used in the heritage sector.
Students also have the opportunity to work in well-equipped professional workshops and studios with access seven days a week, 8.30am to 10pm.
The College Art and Conservation Library has thousands of specialist books and journals and all students have access to 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
£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. 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.
Student scholarships and bursaries
Scholarships and bursaries available from £500 to £10,000.
On completion of the Graduate Diploma, many students go on to study for the MA Conservation Studies which includes a six week work placement to broaden practical experience, build contacts and gain transferable skills. Others pursue entry level positions in the heritage sector. The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector opens up an impressive range of work placement opportunities.
Graduates have had placements at, or gone on to work with the Amsterdam City Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago, Bodleian Library, Brighton Pavilion, British Museum, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Heritage Blacksmith Partnership, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Palace Library, Leiden University Library, Library of Congress, Maritime Museum Rotterdam, National Museum of American History, Notarial Archives, Malta, Oxford Conservation Consortium, Richard Rogers Conservation, Royal Collection Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Yale University Library.Read more in our interviews with alumni
Commendations from the University of Sussex include:
"This re-validation further builds on the success of the courses, which have been refined over a number of years to produce excellent results."
"The professional networking opportunities provided through external collaborations and the opportunities for students to disseminate their work to an external audience."
"The approach to fostering a collaborative, creative student community in line with Edward James’ vision for the College."
If you would like to apply for this course, please do so through UCAS using the links below. You will need to have decided your subject specialism before you apply.
If you would like further information please contact our admissions team. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1243 818 291.
"If I think about my time here, the biggest delights have been in meeting so many likeminded people and visiting so many professional establishments (in particular when we all travelled to Vienna). Being able to talk regularly with passionate students and professionals has been amazing. The tutors in our programme are true experts in their fields with a mountain of experience behind them."Shane Orion Wiechnik, Graduate Diploma student
Head of School of Conservation
Elizabeth Neville has over thirty years' experience as a book conservator, interspersed with teaching and supervising on the Graduate Diploma in Books and Library Materials and MA Conservation Studies courses at West Dean.
Subject leader and short course tutor
Malcolm's extensive experience in private practice, as well as the heritage sector/museums, lies behind his in-depth understanding of the profession. He brings a comprehensive knowledge of traditional craft skills, theory and contextual history. He also has an interest in new and innovative ways of applying conservation to mechanical objects.
Subject Leader, Conservation of Books
Mariluz Beltran de Guevara has been an accredited book and paper conservator since 2008, and joined the College in 2017 after many years at the British Library.
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.
Subject Leader, Conservation of Metalwork
Dr Eric Nordgren brings over 20 years' experience as a metals conservator working with museums, universities, heritage agencies and private practice in the UK and around the world. He is active in the Icon Metals and Heritage Science groups, and is an associate member of AIC, ICOM-CC and the Historical Metallurgy Society.
Subject Tutor, Conservation of Books
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.
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.
Subject Tutor, Conservation Science
David is a book and paper conservation specialist who has tutored more than a generation of book conservators since he began as a tutor in book conservation at West Dean College in 1988. He has taught science for conservators in the UK, USA and Europe, established the analytical laboratory at West Dean College in 2007 and has been the college's science tutor for 25 years.
Subject Tutor, Clocks (and Related Objects)
Tim Hughes MBHI, clock maker, trained at West Dean College and works as a clockmaker and scientific instrument restorer, and as external consultant at Bellmans Auctioneers. He has received several awards, including the Trustees' Prize while at West Dean College and a QEST Scholarship.
Subject Tutor, Conservation of Books
Lara Meredith became a Book & Archive Conservator after graduating from Camberwell College of Arts. Lara has been working as a Freelance Book & Archive Conservator since 1999 including work with The National Trust, The Leather Conservation Centre and private clients.
Subject Tutor, Metalwork
Katrina specialises in metals conservation and gained her Postgraduate Diploma in Metals Conservation from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. She has worked in private practice, as well as at the V&A Museum working on the Gilbert Collection. In 2018, Katrina returned to West Dean College to take up the role of Subject Tutor for Metals.
Subject Tutor, Collections Care and Conservation Management
Janet Sinclair is subject tutor on the CCCM MA course in the School of Conservation. Janet is an art historian, curator and lecturer, educated at the Courtauld Institute, Bretton Hall and the Barber Institute, Birmingham, where her MPhil was on the history of British collecting and she taught for many years.
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.