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Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Archaeology

ARCH41230: Conservation Practice

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20
Tied to F4K507 Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (Professional Practice)
Tied to F4K707 Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (Dissertation)


  • Conservation Skills (attended).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to acquire the basic judgement and practical skills of a practicing conservator.


  • In this module students undertake the conservation of two or more complex objects made of a range of materials. The student gains experience in making decisions regarding the conservation treatment of objects, undertaking research, recording, 'hands on' cleaning, stabilisation and restoration work. They also develop an awareness of prioritising and organising their work, securing materials, facilities and working with curators.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A detailed knowledge of the physical and chemical basis for the decay, stabilisation and conservation processes of ancient and historic materials.
  • A detailed understanding at an advanced level of archaeological and historic materials and technologies in order to appreciate and recover the information contained in every object.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Advanced practical skills necessary for competently cleaning (remove surface accretions and decay products above the original surface), stabilising and restoring (accurate reconstruction or revisualisation) artefacts and a professional knowledge of the safety issues inherent in working in a conservation laboratory.
  • Develop to a professional standard, the judgmental skills necessary for pro-active decision making in conservation work.
  • A mastery of research and recording skills relevant to dealing with the conservation of historical and archaeological objects.
Key Skills:
  • Become familiar with, and gain experience in, methods of analytical investigation.
  • A well-developed understanding of the organisational and managerial skills (necessary to secure and utilise the resources that will be required to solve the future problems which conserving our heritage will present).
  • Communication skills in written, image, computer and verbal formats to a professional standard.
  • Demonstrated to a professional standard, an ability to undertake research, collect information (data) and critically evaluate it, and to draw appropriate conclusions.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is almost exclusively provided through supervised practicals and seminars plus a visit. Students engage in report writing and research during the practicals managing thier time as appropriate to complete objects and reports.
  • Learning is primarily achieved through practical work and independent study for seminar and portfolio presentation.
  • Assessment is achieved through two object reports. Feedback is given to students on their seminar presentation.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Practicals 40 7 280
Seminars 2 0.5 1
Self study 19
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: 2 object conservation reports Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Object conservation report 1 3000 words 50% 1
Object conservation report 2 3000 words 50% 1

Formative Assessment:

2 seminars.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

    If you have a question about Durham's modular degree programmes, please visit our User Guide. If you have a question about modular programmes that is not covered by the User Guide, or a query about the Postgraduate Module Handbook, please contact us using the Comments and Questions form below.