Collections Care and Conservation Management

MA Collections Care and Conservation Management

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MA Collections Care and Conservation Management
Duration: Two years, part time
Applications open
Find out more about funding

This MA provides the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for a lead role in collections care and management for a range of collection types and contexts. It is aimed at conservators, curators and others aiming to take on significant collections care responsibilities, including graduates from conservation courses, museum studies, galleries care or other museum, history or science related disciplines, intending to develop their careers in this area.

This two year course offers a flexible study path to achieve your MA. The curriculum is delivered over eight five-day study blocks in themed units, spread out over the two year programme. In addition, students undertake work-based learning for at least one day a week during the academic year, to apply and extend the skills learned during the study blocks.

Programme units cover a comprehensive programme of theory, coupled with practical conservation exercises and visits that focus on key aspects of contemporary collections care and management practice. Taught blocks are supported by off-site work-based learning, professional practice assignments and a dissertation.

Three key professional skills developed over the course of your studies are:

  • Problem-solving
  • Evaluative judgement
  • Negotiation & influencing

Areas of study

  • Understanding, monitoring and managing agents of deterioration
  • Relative humidity and light
  • Emergency/salvage planning
  • Integrated pest management
  • Collections surveys, risk assessment and management
  • Managing staff
  • Strategic resource allocation to maximise collections care

You can expect

  • Teaching by high profile experts in their field
  • To work with a large and diverse Collection comprising objects from all disciplines, allowing students to apply knowledge to real-life problems
  • To develop a broad range of transferrable skills in communication, critical thinking, and research
  • To build contacts and networks
  • A course that encourages interdisciplinary practice
  • A collaborative environment with access to experts in a range of conservation disciplines
  • Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions
  • A low student to staff ratio

Hear from Subject Leader, Shayne Rivers

Hear Shayne Rivers talk about what makes this course unique, the different elements of the course and how students benefit from the historic house environment.


Our students benefit from a unique opportunity to study in a working historic house and estate environment. Facilities include:

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

Student Experiences

Hear from alumnus Wendy Richardson about her experience of studying with us at West Dean.
See Wendy's alumni profile

Emily Kelmendi - Alumnus, MA Collections Care and Conservation Management

"In 2019 I started a new position as Conservator on the historic ships team for the National Museum of the Royal Navy. This role includes dealing with conservation issues relating to large historic vessels, such as HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, a number of other vessels and submarines. Studying the CCCM course has prepared me to deal with a variety of issues and make well-informed decisions. Properties which I need on a daily basis when working with challenging objects such as HMS Victory." 

Read Emily's alumni profile

Alex Foster - Alumnus, MA Collections Care and Conservation Management

"My main motivation for choosing the CCCM was to help myself gain a more structured paid role in collections care or preventive conservation within a museum or historic house. I was pleased that the course had such a practical focus, and that it was flexible enough to fit in around my current roles. One of my best memories of the course was the ‘Team CCCM spirit’ which helped us carry each other through and support one another. It reinforced the importance of offering help and being open to receiving it. Although intense, I’d say the study blocks were the best parts of the course, as our hard work paid off in the form of a study trip to a museum/heritage organisation to supplement our learning. The practical aspects of modules and the way we were pushed out of our comfort zone has shaped much of my confidence working in the field since graduating." 

Read Alex's alumni profile

Entry Requirements

You will need to have an upper second class or above UK honours degree in a relevant subject, or a non-UK equivalent.

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; and mature students 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.

Contact Hours


On the MA Collections Care and Conservation Management you will have around 30-35 contact hours per study block, typically consisting of:

  • 26-30 hours of lectures
  • 2-3 hours of seminars and peer to peer presentations
  • 30 mins 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

40% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning and work-based learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 280 hours
Work-based learning: 504 hours
Independent learning: 1016 hours

International study trips

The College continues to monitor travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with regards to any international travel. At this time, all international travel which includes study trips will be subject to agreement by the College. Full details in our coronavirus update.

term dates

Programme structure

Learn more about the programme structure of each semester and the breakdown of study blocks.

Read more

Year 1 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

Collections Care and Conservation Management 1
Professional Skills: Introduction

  40 credits
Year 1 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Collections Care and Conservation Management 2
Professional Skills: Development and Research Project Conception

40 credits
Year 2 / Semester 1 (18 weeks)
  Christmas vacation  

Collections Care and Conservation Management 3
Professional Skills: Extending Practice and Research Project Development

40 credits
Year 2 / Semester 2 (18 weeks)
  Easter vacation  

Collections Care and Conservation Management 4
Professional Skills: Fluency and Research Project Realisation

60 credits

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £1,630 per term (£4,890 per year)

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more

A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place. Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.

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 £10,906 to help with course fees and living costs. See

Student scholarships and bursaries

Bursaries are available from £500.

Find out more about funding opportunities


What degree do I need to be eligible for the course?

Entry requirements are a 2:1 or above honours degree, or international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as Art History, Archaeology, Art & Design or Cultural Heritage. Accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will be considered for students who have been out of formal education for some years. In these cases, applicants would need to demonstrate their capacity for degree-level work through a portfolio of work, prior learning and an interest or experience in conservation and cultural heritage. 

How long does the MA take and what time commitment is required?

This course involves a series of eight five-day blocks in themed units, spread out over the two year programme. You are expected to come into the College for the blocks and then go back to your workplace setting, returning for further study at the College.

What is involved in the e-portfolio that you ask for?

The e-portfolio could express anything that you refer to in your personal statement, your piece of academic writing or it could represent activity undertaken at your workplace. It could include photos, videos, sketches or writing. The purpose is to demonstrate your interest, ability and experience in the area.

What sort of assignments do students work on?

Students have previously worked on:

  • Relamping recommendations (implemented) for a small local museum to improve object lighting and reduce running costs
  • Leading a re-storage project for 2,500 high value metal objects in a strong room, including a review of pollutant exposure
  • Reviewing the success of IPM interventions for a collection with a substantial endemic moth infestation
  • Assessing the impact of changes to a building heating system on a historic furniture collection
University of Sussex Logo


Commendations from the University of Sussex include:

"The discussions undertaken with employers, such as the National Trust, in developing the curriculum to ensure the course is complementing industry training."

"The introduction of lecture capture in support of students’ learning."  



Shayne Rivers MA FIIC

Subject Leader - MA Collections Care and Conservation Management

Shayne Rivers is an acknowledged world expert in the conservation of furniture and Asian lacquer. She has lectured on conservation in the USA, Australia, Japan, Europe and the UK, and has been involved in the education of the next generation of conservators throughout her professional career.

David Howell BSc BA

Subject Tutor - Collections Care & Conservation Management

David Howell is an Institute of Conservation accredited conservator with over 30 years in the conservation profession. David has extensive experience of teaching and student supervision, having been on the first group of teachers on the RCA/V&A MA in Conservation, a frequent lecturer on conservation summer schools, internal and external PhD supervisor, and a PhD assessor at a number of Universities.

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.