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MA Conservation Studies
Duration: 1 calendar year (46 weeks) full time

Accepting applications for 2019 entry. Find out about funding opportunities.

The MA Conservation Studies equips you with the high level specialist skills sought by the conservation sector. This rigorous and highly respected programme draws on an extensive sector network, nationally and internationally, including industry bodies such as Icon.

The focus is on research through practice. You will draw on theoretical, scientific, and analytical study of artefacts and materials, and analyse the context and practice of conservation. You will also deliver a major final research project.

Elements of interdisciplinary work are involved, but you will choose from one of the specialisms below:

  • Books and Library Materials
  • Ceramics and Related Materials
  • Clocks and Related Objects (Horology)
  • Furniture and Related Objects
  • Metalwork

All disciplines are accessible from both humanities and science study backgrounds.

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Workshop access 8.30am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • An interdisciplinary environment
  • Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions

Contact Hours


On the MA Conservation Studies you will 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 and writing up your final dissertation.

Overall workload

33% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity.
Scheduled teaching and learning: 600 hours, Independent learning: 1200 hours.


You will work in dedicated, well-equipped workshops and studios. 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.

Programme Structure

Programme Structure



  • £4,153 per term (£16,612 per year)


  • £4,153 per term (£16,612 per year)

Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.

Additional costs

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional, available on request.

Student Scholarships and Bursaries

Approximately 60% of students receive some form of funding. Note: additional funding opportunities are available with June and August 1 deadlines Find out more

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.


Entry requirements

Successful completion of the Graduate Diploma in Conservation Studies, or a 2.1 or higher degree and experience equivalent to the Graduate Diploma in Conservation Studies.

International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or ILETS 6.5. Applicants are interviewed and required to undertake practical and observational tests.


Graduates have interned at Royal Observatory Greenwich and worked at The British Museum, The Clockworks (London) and Wienmuseum (Australia).

Alumni include professional conservators in high profile museums and libraries nationally and internationally. They include: the British Museum, Royal Collections, National Maritime Museum, Royal Swedish Palaces, Windsor Castle, Gold Museum (Bogota Colombia) and Columbia University Library (Columbia, USA). They work with public and private collections. Some pursue a career path into collections care, or work as independent conservators, advisors or tutors.

Image: Tabea Rude Aluma, Photo Credit Michael Goldrei. Tabea is the Dynamic Objects Conservator at the Wien Museum, (Vienna Clock Museum, Austria) and looks after a collection of around 4,000 clocks.


Elizabeth Neville MA ACR

Head of School of Conservation

Elizabeth Neville has over thirty years' experience as a book conservator, interspersed with teaching and supervising on the Graduate Diploma in Books and Library Materials and MA Conservation Studies courses at West Dean.

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.

Malcolm Archer FBHI

Subject Leader, Clocks (and Related Objects)

Malcolm's extensive experience in private practice, as well as the heritage sector/museums, lies behind his in-depth understanding of the profession. He brings a comprehensive knowledge of traditional craft skills, theory and contextual history. He also has an interest in new and innovative ways of applying conservation to mechanical objects.

Mariluz Beltran de Guevara ACR

Mariluz Beltran de Guevara ACR - Subject Leader Conservation of Books

Mariluz Beltran de Guevara has been an accredited book and paper conservator since 2008, and joined West Dean College in 2017 after many years at the British Library.

Norbert Gutowski

Subject Leader, Furniture & Related Objects

Associate Fellow of the HEA

Norbert is a furniture maker - conservator with almost two decades of tutoring experience, who has also worked extensively as a fine antique furniture conservator- restorer.

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.

Tristram Bainbridge MA ACR

Tristram works as a contract furniture conservator at the V&A and in private practice. He has lectured in conservation at the City and Guilds of London and at Camberwell College of Art.

Abigail Bainbridge MA ACR

Associate Tutor, Books

Abigail Bainbridge co-owns Bainbridge Conservation, specialising in the conservation of books and paper for private clients and institutions. She has worked as a conservator at Columbia University and taught Conservation Science at Camberwell College of Art, as well as actively teaching workshops in bookbinding and book conservation internationally.

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