Conservation Care & Management for Collections
The Graduate Diploma (Level 6) is the start of your career in conservation and management of heritage collections. Using the historic interiors, collections and archive at West Dean as your teaching environment, you will learn to plan and deliver collection care, to exercise evaluative judgement and become evidence based and solution driven in delivering organisational priorities. Team-working, negotiation, communication and reflective practice skills are utilised throughout the programme and this skillset is sought after in the heritage sector and transferable to other professional contexts.
You will be introduced to the weekly, monthly and seasonal routines associated with managing historic collections, such as environmental monitoring and pest management. By working alongside our conservation studies programmes specialising in books, ceramics, clocks, furniture and metalwork, you will gain an understanding of the materiality of different kinds of collections and you will have the opportunity to learn from our science tutors about the types of analysis that can be undertaken to inform collections care.
Issues that influence contemporary collections management, such as repatriation, reinterpretation, inclusivity and sustainable practice are investigated and discussed in partnership with our GD Conservation Studies students. As the year progresses you are introduced to increasingly complex situations and can participate in some of the more ad hoc features of collections care, such as preparing items for loans, outreach activities, disaster planning, surveys and condition checking.
There is a six-week placement running up to the spring vacation and this allows you to explore a different working environment, such as an archive, museum or heritage site and to further develop your professional skills and build networks.
The programme culminates in you presenting a portfolio of work that includes contextual work, professional practice and critical reflection. This takes the form of a collection care and management report, presentation and poster on a collection or practical project such as a collections care or conservation analysis, option evaluation, planning, or case study.
|Term 1 (10 weeks)
|Term 2 (10 weeks)
|Term 3 (10 weeks)
On the Graduate Diploma, you typically have around 24 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:
When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study for approximately 13-14 hours per week. Typically, this will involve:
Graduate Diploma: 60% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 760 hours, including placement
Independent learning: 440 hours
Course fees are the same for the UK and international students
Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more
A £250 course fee and £200 accommodation deposit (if residential) is required to secure your place. Details will be provided to you in your offer. Fees are billed termly in advance. Please see the Terms and Conditions for further information.
Scholarships and bursaries are available, based on individual need.
If you are a UK/EU student you may be eligible to apply for a Student Loan (tuition fees and/or maintenance loans) from the Student Loans Company.
Degree or qualification at an equivalent level to the second year of undergraduate study (e.g. HND, FdA or DipHE), and an interest or experience in conservation and collections. Alternatively, accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will be considered for those who have been out of formal education for some years and are over 21, who do not meet the general (minimum) entrance requirements, but who can demonstrate their capacity for degree-level work in other ways.
International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.
If you fulfil the entry requirements, you will be invited to visit the College for an interview with the programme tutor and another senior member of academic staff.
If you only wish to apply to West Dean, please complete the direct application form. If you are applying for more than one institution, please apply through UCAS using the link below.
I am interested in this course but don’t meet the academic entry requirements or have been out of formal education for a while. Can I still apply?
Accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will be considered. In these cases, applicants would need to demonstrate their capacity for degree-level work through a portfolio of work, prior learning and an interest or experience in object conservation and cultural heritage.
What would you expect to see in a Conservation Care portfolio?
A portfolio should demonstrate your interest and any experience in conservation care and collections management. It can comprise of evidence of engagement via, project notes and photos, links to video evidence or blogs, journaling and reflections and any testimonials.
What do students go on to do after taking a Conservation Care and Management for Collections course?
Our alumni are employed in conservation posts such as Historic Royal Palaces, National Trust, English Heritage, and across the museum sector.
Each year, students on the MA Conservation Studies programmes undertake a six-week work placement in industry as part of their studies. The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector across the UK, EU and internationally, opens up an impressive range of opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge in a 'real-world' sett...
On Friday 4 November, conservators around the world - including Conservation Students and Tutors from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation - participated in Ask a Conservator day. A day that encourages international collaboration and knowledge exchange using #AskAConservator.
School of Conservation students and tutors across Furniture, Clocks, Ceramics, Books and Metals pa...
Fine Art tutor George Charman is currently completing a practice-led PhD at Kingston University. Read on to find out more about the project.
For World Book Day, West Dean College Librarian Teresa Shergold has chosen to highlight a selection of books from the library collection that relate to the programmes taught within the School of Conservation across clocks, metals, furniture, ceramics and books specialisms. “The books have been chosen as just a little snapshot, to reflect the range of material and objects studen...
On Thursday 4th November 2021, conservators around the world - including conservation students and tutors from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation - participated in Ask a Conservator day; a day that encourages international collaboration and knowledge exchange using #AskAConservator.
School of Conservation students and tutors participated via the College's Instagram page, a...
By Teresa Shergold, Librarian Many years ago, the Library was given a collection of guidebooks relating to historic buildings and gardens. This collection has sat within our College Library collection uncatalogued and underused. Gathering dust, you might say. The collection was given to the Library by Helen Lowenthal; one of the College’s very early trustees. It seems fitting theref...
Students at West Dean College have had the opportunity to work with the Collections Team on the Whose Heritage? project over the past year. Although limited by the Covid-19 lockdowns, the project has continued, with taught sessions delivered to students from across the School of Arts and School of Conservation. Preventative conservation work on related archival material...
by David Dorning (with thanks to Graham and Rosemary Marley for additional information)
Having worked at West Dean College since 1996 Norbert Gutowski is leaving us at the end of the summer term 2021.
By Teresa Shergold, Librarian Libraries can be thought of as ‘archives of published work’[i], and in that spirit and in conjunction with LGBTQIA+ month, here are six related texts selected from the Library collection. John La Rose, who established one of the first Black British publishers New Beacon Books, said that independent publishing: ‘implies autonomy and initiat...
Edward James is rightly celebrated for many things, not least his artistic patronage, the fantastical constructions of ‘Las Pozas’ in Mexico, and the founding of West Dean College in 1971. Less well known is the time he spent in Los Angeles, at various points between the 1940s and 1960s, when his social circle included Aldous Huxley, Igor Stravinsky, Gerald Heard and Christopher Ish...
Research Skills and Cross-curriculum Practice
Shayne Rivers is an acknowledged world expert in the conservation of furniture and Asian lacquer. She has lectured on conservation in the USA, Australia, Japan, Europe and the UK, and has been involved in the education of the next generation of conservators throughout her professional career.
Subject Tutor, Conservation Science
David is a book and paper conservation specialist who has tutored more than a generation of book conservators since he began as a tutor in book conservation at West Dean College in 1988. He has taught science for conservators in the UK, USA and Europe, established the analytical laboratory at West Dean College in 2007 and has been the college's science tutor for 25 years.
Subject Leader, Conservation Studies specialising in Metalwork
Kate's background includes practicing as a solicitor before making a career change to train as a blacksmith and specialist Metals Conservator. She earned an MA in Conservation Studies from West Dean, following which she founded a small business specializing in the conservation of forged and architectural metalwork.
Our School of Conservation offers a dynamic, internationally connected and respected learning environment where students benefit from the unique opportunity to study in a working historic house. Students enjoy access to well-equipped professional workshops, studios, and a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory.