Historic Building Conservation
Study the technical and practical skills relevant to the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and structures. Improve your skills and up-to-date knowledge of developments in materials, techniques and current practice.
The Professional Development Diploma is recognised by Historic England and adheres to its guidelines and standards aimed at improving building conservation practice. The Historic England Practical Building Conservation volumes are the core texts which underpin the courses. The diploma is designed and delivered by leading practitioners and follows the latest knowledge and developments in technology, craft and science applicable to historic buildings, archaeological sites and monuments.
The unique Ruinette at West Dean, on which students practise conservation and repair techniques, is a purpose-built structure exhibiting the materials and defects typically found in historic buildings. The diploma is aimed at those who need to develop practical skills and those who need to understand, specify and supervise them.
This historic building course is ideal for conservators, conservation officers, architects, surveyors, craftspeople and specialist contractors.
Learn more about the course structure and entry requirements.
On successful completion of the course you will be awarded the Professional Development Diploma certificate by West Dean.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has agreed that the Professional Development Diploma course qualifies as a Conservation Training Course for entry on to the RIBA Conservation register at CR level.
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) has approved West Dean as one of its recognised CPD providers.
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) recognises a number of the BCM courses as appropriate CPD for its members. The Professional Development Diploma will assist candidates in their progression to specialise in conservation and ultimately towards applying for CIAT's Conservation Register.
"The BCM programme offers a wealth of experience from professional practitioners who are all passionate about the built environment and who are keen to pass on their knowledge. The college itself is a remarkable historic site and provides an ideal environment for learning about the conservation of historic structures." Catherine Woolfitt
To complete the qualification you will need to take 10 Building Conservation Masterclasses (BCMs) Seven are compulsoryand three of your choice.
Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork
Conservation and Repair of Plasters and Renders
The Structural Repair of Historic Buildings
Conservation and Repair of Brick and Flint Masonry
Conservation and Repair of Timber
Conservation and Repair of Stone Masonry
Mortars for Repair and Conservation
Optional BCMs (choose three)
Specifying Conservation Works
Coatings and Consolidants for Masonry
Conservation and Repair of Slate and Stone Roofing
Managing Wildlife in the Historic Environment (alternate years)
Conservation of Historic Concrete
Conservation and Repair of Masonry Ruins
Conservation and Repair of Tile Roofing
Students will ideally have training/experience in the field and/or a minimum of two years' practical experience. The diploma is ideal for (though not limited to) conservators, conservation officers, archaeologists, architects, surveyors, engineers, craftspeople and specialist contractors.
"I've been project managing a Heritage Lottery Funded Skills for the Future project, to support traditional building skills training and address the shortage of skilled craftspeople in and around Leeds. The city has a huge number of buildings built before 1919 but diminishing numbers of specialist heritage construction workers.
I'm looking to continue working in this area. I have an understanding of building conservation but wanted some practical training, this seemed to be the most practical course available and was recommended by a colleague. The ability to study towards accreditation in short bursts also suited me and I'm very grateful to have been awarded a bursary by the Drake Trust to enable me to study here.
The standard of tutors and speakers has been superb … it's been a privilege to study with them. I've also met a range of contacts who I know will be useful for future networking. Because of the highly respected nature of the courses here, I've been asked by colleagues to report on some of the expertise on my return, up-to-date developments in the use of lime mortar for example.
Overall, I've found the courses to be an excellent mix of practical and theoretical learning supported by great facilities."
Professional Development Diploma in Historic Building Conservation and Repair
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.
Fees are listed on each course page - the minimum cost would be approximately £7,000 for 10 courses (2022 prices), plus the administration fee of £450, payable on acceptance onto the course.
10% discount on course fees to employees of Historic England, English Heritage, Icon, Cadw, Historic Scotland, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Institute of Historic Building Conservation, Historic Houses and members of Building Limes Forum UK and Ireland.
Find out more about funding your studies.
The Drake Trust
The Drake Trust generously provides a number of bursaries for students attending a Building Conservation Masterclass at their own expense. To apply for The Drake Trust Bursary please contact [email protected].
Sussex Heritage Trust Bursary
Financial support may be available to students through a bursary arranged by the Sussex Heritage Trust. To be eligible students should be based in Sussex and work or hope to work in the construction industry. Find out more about the bursary and how to apply on the Sussex Heritage Trust website.
Other organisations that offer funding support include:
The West Dean Professional Development Diploma certificate is equivalent to Level 4-5.
Yes – there are currently four courses being piloted in e-blended format with the likelihood that more will be offered.
We estimate between 10-12 hours are required ahead of each practical session. The online elements are started 3-4 weeks ahead of the practical with some ‘live’ Zoom group discussions to allow tutors and students to meet each other ‘virtually’ to prepare for the practical.
This varies per course. Typically, two days focused practical work per BCM.
There isn’t an average as it depends on working commitments. Some students choose to do the BCM courses back-to-back, others spread them out. Applicants have up to five years to complete the course.
The Drake Trust provides bursaries to support this Professional Development Diploma. Please contact us at [email protected] to apply for this.
You pay for each course as you book. So you pay in increments with a £260 administration fee.
Dr David Farrell is an engineer who gained his PhD in Corrosion Engineering in 1984 and was manager of the Inspection and Monitoring Group at the Corrosion and Protection Centre Industrial Services. He became the Managing Director of Rowan Technologies Ltd, who are consultants to English Heritage, and have worked on many research and development and advisory p...
By Jamie Fairchild, Building Conservation Masterclass Tutor Graffiti removal is an important aspect of Masonry Cleaning especially when it relates to a delicate historic surface such as this example; plasterwork within a C12th monastic ruin, part of the Scheduled Ancient Monument. Add some bats in the vaults beneath and a running flood in the adjacent river – how should we ta...
We discuss Building Conservation with Catherine Woolfitt ACR MCIfA MA Classics MA Art Conservation - Subject Leader Historic Building Conservation and Repair.
Q: You started your career as an archaeologist - what attracted you to historic building conservation?
A: Initially my interest was in the conservation of ruins, building remains on archaeological sites. I became fascinated ...
Subject Leader - Historic Building Conservation and Repair
Catherine Woolfitt is an archaeologist and architectural conservator and has worked in the conservation of the built heritage since 1993. With wide-ranging work experience in Italy, Israel and the UK, her experience bridges the museum, object, and building conservation sectors.