Conservation of Metalwork

Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation of Metalwork

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Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time

An internationally respected postgraduate metals conservation programme.

The strongly practical emphasis of this programme (73%) is based on assessment and treatment of clients' objects. You will consolidate your skills in the treatment of ferrous metals, copper allows, base metals and precious and plated metals. All work is grounded by your research into the historical context of each object, visiting lecturers and postgraduate science lecturers. Network within the sector, visit museums and collections, attend seminars and undertake optional work placements to develop your professional practice.

You can expect:

  • Practical hands-on bench skills and object based treatments
  • Tutors with extensive experience
  • To work on artefacts from public and private collections
  • An interdisciplinary environment
  • Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions
  • Access to dedicated workshops, 7am-10pm
  • An approach intormed by national and international practive, to Icon standards
  • Theoretical, scientific and analytical study of artefacts and materials
  • To perform historical research and interpretation of the objects you work on

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 metals workshop with individual bench space, a forge and foundry equipped for soldering, brazing and welding, and a tool room. There is a laboratory designed for the safe use and storage of chemicals and a machine shop with lathe, drills, saws and grinders. Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

The computer suite and the on-site Art and Conservation Library put thousands of specialist books and journals, databases within your reach. A well-equipped analytical laboratory is also available to students.

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.

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.



Graduates of the programme often progress to MA Conservation Studies.

Alumni have had work placements or gone on to work at The British Museum, The Royal Armouries, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Scotland, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Gold Museum Colombia, and at UK businesses including Plowden & Smith Ltd, Hall Conservation Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd. Others have become independent conservators.


"After a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree focusing on metals design I had my own brand of production jewellery in the US. I want a career that lets me stay with craft but pursue my historical interests. Conservation perfectly combines craft and history.

I discovered West Dean College offers the only graduate programme in metalwork. Other courses are not as materials-based. Here we are challenged to think about each object on a molecular level. We stabilise objects, learn about corrosion processes that may not even be visible and to think ahead how to take care of objects."

Dorothy Cheng, Postgraduate Diploma Conservation of Metalwork


Maickel van Bellegem ACR

Maickel van Bellegem ACR - Subject Leader Metalwork

Maickel van Bellegem ACR is a goldsmith and metals conservator who has worked both independently and in museums, notably the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum. He has worked on a range of metal objects for display, loans, storage and research purposes, and has published regularly. He has membership of a number of professional organisations and is accredited by Icon.

Dr Eric Nordgren AFHEA

Metalwork Conservation Studies Co-ordinator

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.

Program advisors

  • Sophy Wills: The Royal Collection.
  • Richard Rogers: Richard Rogers Conservation.
  • Alistair Dickenson: Specialist in silver and precious metalwork.

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