Excellence in conservation education

At West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, we specialise in the conservation of tangible cultural heritage. Students gain extensive practical experience of conservation on high-quality objects, underpinned by a thorough grounding in theoretical and contextual knowledge.

Register today for one of our upcoming degree/diploma Virtual Open Days

Complementing the full-time programmes is a range of conservation short courses, including a programme in partnership with The British Library.

Academic staff are respected in their fields and have extensive connections with employers in the heritage sector. Students gain an understanding of and the ability to apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation. Alumni are among the most sought-after in their fields, both nationally and internationally.

The School of Conservation's active links in the heritage sector include:

The British Library, The British Museum, Historic England, The V&A, National Maritime Museum, The National Archives, Fitzwilliam Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, Royal Swedish Palaces, Lincei Library in Rome, Plowden and Smith Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation.

Conservation Degree and Diploma Courses

Students in the ceramics workshop at West Dean College

Our internationally respected diploma and degree study paths enable you to specialise in Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Furniture, Metalwork, Collections Care or Historic Buildings. Study in a rich collaborative environment that fosters cross-discipline study.

Books and Library Materials
With a reputation for producing top class book conservators, there is no equal to this course anywhere in the world. 

Ceramics and Related Materials
One of the few specialist postgraduate ceramics programmes worldwide.

Furniture and Related Objects
An internationally recognised programme on which students can develop specialist craft and conservation skills. 

Horology, Clocks and Related Objects
The only programme of its kind for the study of clock conservation and making. 

​Esteemed by the profession as the only postgraduate metalwork programme of its kind. 

Collections Care and Conservation Management
This part-time MA provides the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for a lead role in collections care and management within a historic house context.

Professional Development Diploma Historic Building Conservation and Repair (PDD)
Building Conservation Masterclasses (BCM)

Designed and delivered in association with Historic England, the PDD and BCM short courses offer a unique blend of practical and technical training delivered by expert practitioners.

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Conservation science lab at West Dean College


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

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Work placements and careers

The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector, opens up an impressive range of opportunities for our students to gain valuable work experience. 

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Conservation of masonry ruins students at West Dean College

Conservation CPD

For those working in the sector, conservation short courses deliver continuing professional development. Courses are taught by experts in their specialist fields, typically incorporating the latest knowledge and developments in craft, technology and science.

Building Conservation Masterclasses are recognised and delivered in association with Historic England and a number of the West Dean College courses meet the CPD criteria of the RIBA, RICS, and other professional bodies.

Object and Materials Conservation courses are offered in collaboration with partner organisations, and we offer specialist short courses at the British Library.

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Student Case Studies

Students in ceramics workshop at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Students share their experiences, talk about the projects they have worked on and what it is like to study at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Read more in the student case studies.

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School of Conservation blog

School of Conservation Blog

Read stories from our conservation students about their exciting projects.

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Objects for teaching and learning

Students undertake conservation work on objects for museums, heritage organisations, antiques trade and private owners. For objects that meet the criteria for the materials we work with, we advise on the options available, carry out the appropriate treatment, and recommend future care of the object.

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West Dean Student Conference 2021

West Dean Student Conference 2021 - Inclusion, Access, Diversity: Changing the Face of Heritage Conservation. This year's conference offered an opportunity to exchange ideas about the need to focus on inclusion, by supporting access into the profession and diversifying approaches within the profession.

Held online via Microsoft Teams, the sessions from the conference are available to catch-up and watch on YouTube here.

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