F4K507 Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (PP) MA Postgraduate Taught 2018
This is a 2 year (full-time) or 3 year (part-time) 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.
- Conservation Theory
- Conservation Skills
- Artefact Studies
- Care of Collections
- Conservation Practice
- Professional Practice.
To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.
Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.
Course Learning and Teaching
The programme is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes as well as an industrial placement. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate among Conservators in that area. Practicals then provide opportunities for you to implement and develop your skills, based on the knowledge that you have gained through your lectures and through independent study outside the programmes formal contact hours. Self-learning development packages allow you to continue your learning in a structured way outside the practical sessions. The industrial placement forms a major part of the contact time in the programme for Professional Practitioners, allowing you to gain direct experience of practical and applied skills in Conservation. Industrial partners include the Museum of London, National Museum of Wales and Victoria & Albert Museum.
The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as you develop your knowledge, skills and the ability as independent learners and practitioners that is one of the key attributes that the programme develops in its students. The programme therefore prepares you for work or further study once you have completed the programme, with an emphasis on taking your learning from the classroom to real life situations in Museums and conservation laboratories. All teaching is delivered by qualified conservators.
In the first two terms of the first year you will typically attend 4-5 hours a week of lectures, 6 hours of practical work including seminars, 3 hours of structured self-development learning and up to 9 hours of conservation skills working in the conservation laboratory. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge.
The balance shifts in the third term, as you develop your abilities as independent learners through supervised practical conservation work for 4 days a week over 10 weeks and create a portfolio of your work and reflections.
This move towards greater emphasis on independent learning and acting in the role of professional conservator continues in the final year, where you will have a placement in a working conservation lab for 9 months. You will gain experience of working with a wide range of material and develop further your practical skills, within a real-life working environment. A focus is placed upon problem solving and organisational and managerial skills, under the supervision of a professional conservator.
The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which students are strongly encouraged to attend.
Subject requirements, 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 in any subject 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.
All students need to be able to accurately distinguish between colours and safely handle objects, scalpels, and other conservation tools. Students may be required to undertake tests to ascertain the levels of some of these skills if they are invited to visit.
English Language requirements
All students for whom English is not a first language must demonstrate ability to an appropriate standard, i.e. IELTS 7.0 or above with no component under 6.5 or equivalent scores. Details of alternative accepted tests and the requirements for your subject and level of study can be found here.
Two satisfactory academic references are required
There is no specific deadline for applications to however please note there is a maximum of 10 places available on the course each year, due to size of the teaching laboratory. Applications for any given academic year must be received before the start of that academic year (i.e. applications for the 2018-19 academic year must be received before October 2018).
Tuition fee deposit
All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa.
£500 deposit is also payable by Home/EU applicants if an offer of a place from the Department of Archaeology is accepted.
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How to apply
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
Fees and Funding
The tuition fees for 2018/19 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.
Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Department of Archaeology
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
Pre-application open day
Overseas Visit Schedule
Postgraduate VisitsPGVI or
Department of Archaeology
Our internationally recognised research expertise can provide you with some of the best resources available for archaeological research. We have one of only three commercial archaeology units in the UK based in a university department and you will have access to experts in fieldwork. Our taught Masters courses range from the general to the specific, allowing you to make a choice based on your individual interests and learning style. Many of our programmes have been designed with two pathways, professional or research, so you can adapt your degree to your career goals. Amongst the best in the field: our MA in Museum and Artefact Studies and MA in Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects programmes are particularly strong for professional or vocational development, while the MSc in Archaeological Science and all strands of the MA in Archaeology are ideal preparation for continuing your academic career. Our unique MSc in Palaeopathology is always an attractive option for students with either goal in mind, or we can accommodate you as a MRes, MPhil, or PhD student with your own specialised research topic.
Ranked 2nd in the UK for grade point average (GPA) and 1st for research intensity in REF 2014.
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