When assessing a historical object, you will look at material makeup, method of production or artistic techniques used and areas of damage or deterioration. The use of analytical technologies in conservation is needed to understand the object's condition in order to make the most informed choice when deciding on a conservation or restoration process.

Students have the opportunity to work in well-equipped professional workshops and studios with access seven days a week, 8.30am to 9pm. Workshops include specialist equipment and facilities such as the forge, pottery and photography areas.

Science Equipment and Analytical Laboratory

The laboratory was significantly expanded in 2019, and the facilities have been developed for their application to materials commonly treated in the School of Conservation, for students' use for practical treatments and academic research.

  • Tensometer
  • FTIR Spectrometer is a top range tool applicable to both organic and inorganic material, often the first choice for identification of the generic type of a sample.
  • Portable X-ray Fluorescence (PXRF) Spectrometer enables identification of the majority of elements and is particularly useful for establishing components of metals, alloys, pigments and impurities in organic materials.
  • Fluorescence Microscope enables optical identification of components of small cross-sections, through selective illumination and reflectance, and also has a polarising function and digital image capture facility.
  • Visible Light Spectrometer gives an industry-standard measure of the reflected colour of a surface and is particularly useful for comparing and quantifying colour changes in ageing and degradation studies.
  • UV-visible Spectrometer measures the absorbance of both ultraviolet and visible radiation; changes in absorbance in this region can be used to monitor and predict the degradation of materials and its rate.

The equipment is used to perform analytical techniques commonly used in the heritage sector, so students will graduate with a familiarity with their general applications.


The dedicated Arts and Conservation Library gives you access to approximately 11,000 books and 85 journals. There is a local interest section as well as a general reference area. The online catalogue is available throughout the workshops, computer suite and the library itself. The Archives of the Edward James Foundation is also available for consultation by arrangement via the Library.

Also available is a library homepage which provides access to a number of online databases, archives and other useful sources. Students also have access to the University of Chichester Library and Chichester Library alongside other specialist libraries in the area through an inter-library loans service. 

Read more about the School of Conservation

Conservation Facilities

Warburton Chair (belonged to Horace Walpole), owned by the Stawberry Hill Trust
Warburton Chair (belonged to Horace Walpole), owned by the Stawberry Hill Trust

"The application of technologies to the wider field of restoration and conservation is game changing in many ways. They allow the understanding and documentation of works to a much higher level than was previously possible. This in turn gives the conservator much more to go on when making decisions of how best to preserve the piece. This is one of the reasons that West Dean College supports the integration of scientific techniques into conservation through its provision of analytical equipment and support from science teaching staff."

Dr Eric Nordgren, Science Liaison Officer

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