Ceramics and Related Materials

Develop the skills and competences to work towards becoming a professional ceramics conservator on one of our conservation courses focussing on ceramics. Conservation is a complex and exciting discipline and the College has a reputation for equipping students with the practical craft skills, science and theoretical knowledge required by employers in the sector.   

Perhaps you have previously studied archaeology, history of art or classics but would like to pursue a course with a more applied approach such as in museum studies courses. Our courses offer the chance to gain practical experience on live conservation and restoration projects. 

Take a Virtual Tour of the studios and college.

There are two levels of study on our ceramics conservation courses.

Level 6: Graduate Diploma in Conservation Studies
This full time conservation course allows you to further your interest in ceramics and porcelain repair and progress to the MA Conservation Studies.

Level 7: MA Conservation Studies
The global industry standard for conservation.

Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies which is for you if you are interested in studying our MA Conservation Studies but your undergraduate degree was not in a related field. The MA Conservation Studies is the global industry standard for studies in conservation. Our 46 week MA programme with seven day access to the studios and workshops gives you the opportunity to develop the high level specialist skills in ceramics sought by the sector. 

Challenges and strategies in object and collections care are introduced, including considerations of usage, exhibitions, environmental monitoring, and protective systems. Reflective practice is continuously developed to integrate practical, theoretical, conceptual and professional skills.

Icon accredited (PACR) teaching staff ensure all work is consistent with Professional Standards, thereby ensuring you start your career on a trajectory consistent with your own career goals.

You are provided with ceramic objects from museums and private collections to work on (from archaeological finds to decorative arts objects), to acquire and practise both established and developing techniques. Students have also been involved with preparing items from our own unique Collection for exhibition loans, including performing condition reports on The Lobster Phone by Salvador Dalí.     

Students work with different ceramic body types to develop and apply appropriate conservation treatments for objects, such as preventive care through to reconstruction and visual integration. You will use appropriate methods to document objects and assess their condition, discuss treatment strategies, and take part in decision-making. Outcomes are recorded, discussed and communicated as part of learning through practice. The work will increase in complexity and throughout your time you will work with increasing autonomy.

See specific examples of ceramics conservation projects and porcelain repair in our student blogs

After you graduate and career progression

The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector opens up an impressive range of work placement opportunities. Graduate Diploma students often choose to further their studies on the MA Conservation Studies which includes a six week work placement in professional studios, either in a public institution or private workshop. Alumni have had placements at, or gone on to work with:

  • The British Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Royal Collection Trust
  • Ashmolean Museum
  • The Metropolitan Museum
  • National Museums Liverpool
  • National Museums Scotland
  • Cliveden Conservation
  • Plowden and Smith Ltd
  • Sarah Peek Conservation
Read more in our interviews with alumni
MA Ceramics student Andriani Maimaridou in workshop at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Student perspective

“Deciding to study at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was possibly the most rewarding choice I ever made. I wanted to develop my practical conservation skills further, and West Dean College remains the only place to specialise in ceramics conservation. It is such a great experience to be part of the college and to have the opportunity to learn from tutors who are professional conservators and accredited in their field. West Dean College has exceeded my expectations, and the rich and stimulating learning environment has allowed me to advance my skills and grow in confidence.”

Andri Maimaridou, MA Conservation Studies

Facilities

Students work in the well-equipped ceramics workshop* with specialist facilities for cleaning, retouching and finishing. Facilities include:

  • Pottery studio for making, firing and finishing new work
  • Areas for photography and microscopy
  • Wet room for cleaning processes
  • Analytical laboratory

The on-site College Art and Conservation Library has thousands of specialist books and journals and students all have access to specialist databases in the IT suite.

* Coronavirus update: Workshops may need to close outside teaching hours for thorough cleaning. 

Find out more about the facilities

With a focus on practical work, the course has helped me to gradually build up my skills and knowledge through various live projects. The most recent project that I have completed is a Maiolica albarello from the collection at The Courtauld Institute of Art. We are always encouraged to pose questions, to explore the unknown, to reflect upon past experiences, and to progress working with fellow students.

Rose Zhou, Graduate Diploma and MA Conservation Studies, Ceramics

Tutors

Lorna Calcutt MA ACR

Subject Leader, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

Lorna has been a tutor then Subject Leader at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation for 16 years and prior to that was employed as a conservator in national institutions and in the private sector.

Jasmina Vučković MA ACR

Subject Tutor, Ceramics (and Related Materials)

Jasmina Vuckovic is Subject Tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. She has been a visiting lecturer at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation prior to becoming a subject tutor in 2018. Jasmina is a member of ICOM and accredited member of Icon.

Courses

  • Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies

    The Graduate Diploma provides the theoretical and practical knowledge and experience necessary to start your career as a conservator and to begin to develop an area of specialisation. The programme is designed to be accessible from both the humanities and science study backgrounds. 

  • MA Conservation Studies

    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.