Collections Care and Conservation Management

MA Collections Care and Conservation Management

Please enter the characters FB9E in reverse order in the box below

We will use this data to carry out our obligations arising from your enquiry or booking. For details of how we handle data please refer to our Privacy Statement.

Awarded by University of Sussex

Duration: 2 years, part time

This MA provides the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for a lead role in collections care and management within a historic house context. It is aimed at conservators and curators with significant collections care responsibilities, as well as graduates from conservation or other museum related disciplines intending to develop their careers in this area.

The two year course offers a flexible study path to achieve your MA. The curriculum is delivered in themed 5 day modules spread out over the two year programme. Course modules 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. Residential modules are supported by off-site research assignments and a dissertation.

You can expect

  • To learn key theoretical concepts and apply them in practical exercises
  • To assess and prioritise risks to a collection in order to develop management strategies
  • Use of the diverse collection at West Dean in real-life scenarios
  • To study all aspects of collections care including context, security, salvage planning, loans and more
  • Collaboration with conservation students
  • Transferrable skills in research, academic writing, data analysis and critical thinking

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Study within a working historic house and estate
  • An interdisciplinary environment
  • Networking and building of professional contacts
  • Access to a range of experts in different object disciplines

Contact Hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits and work based learning. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

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

  • 26-30 hours of lectures
  • 2-3 hours of seminars
  • 2 hours of external trips & visits (on average)
  • 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

30% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 534 hours, Independent learning: 1266 hours.

Programme Structure

Programme Structure


Facilities include an analytical laboratory and computer suite. The on-site Art and Conservation Library gives you access to specialist databases and thousands of specialist books and journals.

Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

Entry requirements

An upper 2nd class or above UK Honours degree in an appropriate subject, or a non-UK equivalent. Students will also need to demonstrate an established relationship (employment or other arrangements) with a historic house, museum or collection that will support their research assignments. West Dean College aims to offer 2 in house placements. In the absence of a BA the requirement will be demonstrable research and writing abilities commensurate with BA level combined with relevant professional experience, which will be assessed on a case by case basis.

International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5.


UK/EU Fees: £4,800 pa

International: £4,800 pa

Additional costs

Tuition fees include much more than is typical of universities, i.e. tuition fees plus basic materials, lunch, morning/afternoon tea/coffee. Included is mandatory study trip cost of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. For one day study trips lunch is provided, while for residential study trips meals are not included.

Accommodation and living expenses are additional.

New 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 £10,000 to help with course fees and living costs.


Find out about funding here


Shayne Rivers MA FIIC

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.

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.

Apply for Degree and Diploma courses

Applications are welcome from UK/EU and International students.

Learn more about applying and entry

Find out about Funding opportunities here