Still accepting applications for September 2017 entry.

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 progressional 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


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

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.


You will work in our well-equipped metals workshop with areas for photography, analysis, chemicals, hot work (casting, soldering, and welding) and a machine shop. Adjacent to the workshop is the newly-built forge to which you will have access. 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.


  • UK/EU Fee: £13,140
  • International: £13,140

(Students have the option to pay fees in instalments by term, 2 weeks in advance of term start date)

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.



Jon Privett

Jon's wide ranging conservation experience means he has a deep appreciation and understanding of what drives the profession as well as the students he teaches. He worked in commercial, museum, and private practice before joining West Dean College as the Programme Tutor for Metalwork Conservation in 2007.

Belinda Hager (MA)

Belinda studied Metalwork Conservation at West Dean College, graduating with an MA in Conservation Studies. She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Practice and Management from the University of Ulster. She works in private practice as a metalwork conservator/restorer

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.

+44 (0)1243 818 291

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