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Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects (PP) MA

Durham University

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Course options

  • Qualification

    MA - Master of Arts

  • Location

    Durham University

  • Study mode

    Full time

  • Start date

    SEP

  • Duration

    2 years

Course summary

Course Summary

This is a two-year course, which trains graduate students to be conservators of archaeological and museum objects. You will learn to research, analyse, clean, preserve and care for a wide range of artefacts and you will learn how to make decisions to help safeguard this material for the future.

The course is intended for those who wish to become practicing artefact conservators, or who want to work in the fields of artefact research or preventive conservation. Graduates of the course now work in a wide variety of museums as well as large heritage organisations, such as the National Trust and English Heritage. Course participants are drawn from a wide range of disciplines. However, manual dexterity, a basic knowledge of chemistry and the desire to work with museum objects are all essential prerequisites. The first year consists of 11 months intensive teaching in Durham. The second year is typically an industrial placement in a conservation laboratory at a major museum, although you may also opt to stay in Durham and undertake an independent research project. Fees in the second year are approximately 35% of the initial year.

Course Learning and Teaching

The course 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 provide opportunities to develop and implement skills, based on the knowledge gained through lectures and through independent study outside the course's formal contact hours. Self-learning development packages allow participants to continue their 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, the National Museum of Wales and the York Archaeological Trust.

The balance of activities changes over the course as you develop your knowledge, skills and abilities as independent learners and practitioners. The course’s emphasis on taking learning from the classroom to real-life situations in Museums and conservation laboratories, prepares you well for work or further study once you have completed the course. All teaching is delivered by qualified conservators.

In the final year, you will spend nine months working in a conservation lab. You will gain experience working with a wide range of materials and further develop 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. Alternatively, you may opt to stay in Durham and undertake an in-depth project focused on artifact analysis or applications for real-world conservation problems. The Department also has an exciting programme of weekly research seminars and talks by visiting scholars, which you are strongly encouraged to attend.

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.

Tuition fees

Students living in United States
(international fees)

£ 18,900per year

Tuition fees shown are for indicative purposes and may vary. Please check with the institution for most up to date details.

University information

Durham University

  • University League Table

    7th

  • Campus address

    Durham University, The Palatine Centre, Stockton Road, Durham, Durham, DH1 3LE, England

By inspiring students to do outstanding things at Durham, the university believes they will do outstanding things in the world.
Durham's famous cathedral and castle are at the heart of the city – and the heart of the university – forming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beyond studies, Durham offers a student experience and college life that is truly unique.

Subject rankings

  • Subject ranking

    3rd out of 32

  • Entry standards

    / Max 212
    162 80%

    5th

  • Graduate prospects

    / Max 100
    75 75%

    10th

  • Student satisfaction

    / Max 5
    4.14 83%

    10th

    3

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