Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials

Postgraduate Diploma Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials

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Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time

You will develop your skills to professional best practice standards by combining theory and practice to undertake advanced projects. A research project is a core component of the programme. You will have the opportunity of a work placement at a museum of private workshop.

You can expect

  • To develop excellent practical skills through object-based treatments
  • To study ceramic technology, material culture and materials science
  • To perform historical research and interpretation of the objects you work on
  • To work on artefacts from public and private collections
  • Visits to collections, sites and workshops
  • Visiting lecturers

Contact Hours


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

On the Postgraduate Diploma you typically have around 15-16 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 3-4 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 8 hours of supervised workshop practicals (including time spent on placement)
  • 2 hours of external trips & 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. 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

Postgraduate Diploma: 47% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 565 hours, Independent learning: 635 hours.

Programme Structure

Programme Structure


You will work in our well-equipped workshop with individual work spaces for students. Specialist facilities for cleaning, retouching and finishing. A pottery studio for making, firing and finishing new work and 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.

Entry requirements

To join the PGDip/MA programme you will need to have a good first degree in Conservation or a closely related field; or have completed a Graduate Diploma in a closely related subject; or demonstrate an equivalent proficiency in basic conservation science, academic skills (research, writing and critical analysis) and practical hand skills, including manual sensitivity and dexterity. Progression to the MA is subject to the successful completion of the first semester and the identification of an appropriate MA project. Students may choose to exit the programme at the Postgraduate Diploma stage.

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


  • UK/EU Fee: £13,560
  • International: £13,560

    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.

    Additional costs
    Accommodation and living expenses are additional.

Currently a third of all tuition fees are met through bursary or scholarship funding.
In 16/17 almost 60% of students were in receipt of some support. Find out about funding here.

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.



Become a conservator in a museum, follow a path into collections care or develop your own private conservation practice.

Graduates have had placements at or gone on to work with: The British Museum, The V&A, The Ashmolean Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, National Museums; Liverpool, Cliveden Conservation, Plowden and Smith Ltd. and Sarah Peek Conservation.

Students often progress from the Postgraduate Diploma onto MA Conservation Studies.

"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.

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

Student Perspective

"I came to West Dean, from a background in archaeological conservation (MA in Objects Conservation from Australia), to further refine my hand skills and to gain experience working on antique and decorative ceramics. While completing my Postgraduate Diploma I have learnt how to bond, fill and retouch porcelain, fine-white earthenware and glass to obtain a high quality aesthetic finish. I completed my work placement in ceramics conservation at the British Museum, which was a truly incredible opportunity where I treated a large range of objects, from cuneiform tablets, to archaeological ceramic figures and rare examples of ancient Chinese stoneware and porcelain. Training in ceramic conservation at West Dean allowed me to develop excellent practical skills working on live objects in a professional yet supportive environment."

Margot Murray
Postgraduate Diploma


Lorna Calcutt MA ACR

Lead tutor MA Conservation Studies

Subject Leader, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

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

Jasmina Vuckovic

Subject Tutor, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

Program advisors

  • Reino Liefkes - Curator of Ceramics, the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Errol Manners - BADA member; Specialist in European & English Porcelain.
  • Loretta Hogan - Senior Ceramics Conservator, the Britsh Museum.

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 now for Degree and Diploma study

Apply now: we are still accepting applications for all subjects for 2019 entry

Applications are welcome from UK/EU and International students.

Learn more about applying and entry

Find out about funding opportunities