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F4K507 Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (PP) MA Postgraduate Taught 2012


UCAS code F4K507
Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 2 years (full-time) or 3 years (part-time)
Start Date 2012-10-01
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1117

Course Content


This is a two-year course, which educates and trains graduate students to be conservators capable of researching, analysing, cleaning, preserving and caring for a wide range of archaeological and museum objects.

It is intended for those who wish to become practising artefact conservators, or work in the fields of artefact research or preventive conservation.  Graduates of the course will normally work in museums or large heritage organisations such the National Trust or English Heritage.

Graduate students are drawn from a wide range on disciplines, but manual dexterity, a very basic knowledge of chemistry and an enthusiasm and desire to work with museum objects are essential.

Course Structure

Module Credits Core (C)   Optional (O)
Conservation Theory    45 C  
Conservation Skills 30 C  
Artefact Studies 30 C  
Care of Collections 30 C  
Conservation Practice 30 C  
Professional Practice 90   O
Dissertation 90   O

Teaching and assessment details

Module                                     Assessment Method
Conservation Theory              2 essays & 1 short answer exam
Conservation Skills 1 Portfolio
Artefact Studies 2 Artefact reports
Care of Collections 1 environmental report, 1 short answer exam
Conservation Practice  1 Portfolio
Professional Practice 1 Portfolio (18k words)
Dissertation 1 Dissertation (18K words)

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

Note there is a maximum of 10 places available on the course each year, due to size of the teaching laboratory.

A good second class honours degree (typically 2:1 Honours) or international equivalent OR professional qualification or two years relevant work-based experience; and a pass in mathematics (Grade C or above at GCSE level, or equivalent).

Applicants without a degree will be required to demonstrate sufficient academic capability to satisfactorily complete this degree.

Chemistry Requirements

one of the following:

  • an 'AS' level in Chemistry or its equivalent
  • a degree which included a significant science component, e.g. Biology or Material Science
  • an A, B or C grade for Chemistry in a Scottish 'Higher' or similar high grade in the Irish 'Leaving Certificate' may also be acceptable
  • completed university level course units in Inorganic and Organic chemistry - this is particularly appropriate for students from North America
  • completed the 'Chemistry for Conservators' course. This is a correspondence course, which last approximately 6 months. Details of the course are available here.

English Language requirements


Requirements and Admissions

You can apply to our postgraduate programmes via our online application process.

Fees and Funding

Fees have not been set for this academic year.


Though the Dept of Archaeology has a number of bursaries and scholarships, the majority of students taking this course fund themselves.

For more information on funding opportunities, visit the University's funding database.

Career Opportunities


Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Campus tours

Are you interested in studying at Durham University? Then why not come along to one of our Campus Tours? They run regularly at Durham City and Queen's Campus, Stockton on Wednesday afternoons. For further information, please click here.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits

Department Information



Our Department was ranked as the best archaeology research department in the UK Government Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for 2008, with the highest overall score and highest percentage of 4* (world-class) and 3* (internationally excellent) research. We are positioned in the top four archaeology departmentsin the UK by The Independent. Complete University Guide 2012.

Our taught Masters courses are amongst the best in their fields with the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies, the MA in Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects and the MSc in  Palaeopathology all having particular strengths for professional/vocational development as well as preparation for a PhD. The MA in Archaeology and the new MSc in Archaeological Science offer wide-ranging professional training and provide an ideal preparation for doctoral research.

A thriving group of postgraduate research students, both at Masters and PhD levels, contributes to the diversity of interests that underpins the Department's vibrant research environment.


Teaching Staff

Dr Chris Caple, Programme Director 

Chris Caple graduated from University of Wales, College of Cardiff in 1979 with a BSc in Archaeological Conservation.  He carried out his doctoral research on the composition and manufacturing technology of medieval copper alloy pins at the University of Bradford and awarded a PhD in 1986.  Between 1984 and 1988 he was the artefacts conservator at the York Castle Museum.   In 1988 he became lecturer in Archaeological Conservation and Archaeological Science at the Dept. of Archaeology, University of Durham, becoming a senior lecturer in 1996.  Between 1984 and 1995 he was Director, for Cadw, of the archaeological excavations at Dryslwyn Castle in Dyfed which has recently been published as a Society for Medieval Archaeology monograph.  He started excavating at a new site; Nevern Castle, in 2008.  His books Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making and Objects: Reluctant Witnesses to the Past are widely used as textbooks on conservation, museum studies and archaeology courses.  He has been actively engaged in research on the burial environment since 1990 and published papers on this as well as archaeology, conservation and ancient technology.  He is an Accredited Conservator Restorer (ACR), Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation (FIIC) and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA). 

Key teaching staff are listed here.

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