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School of Conservation

Excellence in conservation education

At West Dean College, we specialise in the conservation of tangible cultural heritage. Students gain extensive practical experience of conservation on high-quality objects, underpinned by a thorough grounding in theoretical and contextual knowledge.

Complementing the full-time programmes is a range of conservation short courses, including a programme in partnership with The British Library.

Academic staff are respected in their fields and have extensive connections with employers in the heritage sector. Students gain an understanding of and the ability to apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation. Alumni are among the most sought-after in their fields, both nationally and internationally.

The School of Conservation's active links in the heritage sector include:

The British Library, The British Museum, Historic England, The V&A, National Maritime Museum, The National Archives, Fitzwilliam Museum, The Metropolitan Museum, Royal Swedish Palaces, Lincei Library in Rome, Plowden and Smith Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation.

Kirsten Ramsay of the BBC's The Repair Shop studied Conservation of Ceramics between 1989-1991 and shares her experience and memories of studying at West Dean. 


You will work in well-equipped professional workshops and studios with access seven days a week, 8.30am to 9pm. Workshops includes specialist equipment and facilities such as the forge, pottery and photography areas.

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Work placements and careers

The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector, opens up an impressive range of opportunities for our students to gain valuable work experience. 

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Conservation CPD

For those working in the sector, conservation short courses deliver continuing professional development. Courses are taught by experts in their specialist fields, typically incorporating the latest knowledge and developments in craft, technology and science.

Building Conservation Masterclasses are recognised and delivered in association with Historic England and a number of the West Dean College courses meet the CPD criteria of the RIBA, RICS, and other professional bodies.

Object and Materials Conservation courses are offered in collaboration with partner organisations, and we offer specialist short courses at the British Library.

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Student case studies

Students share their experiences, talk about the projects they have worked on and what it is like to study at West Dean College. Read more in the student case studies.

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Objects for teaching and learning

Students undertake conservation work on objects for museums, heritage organisations, antiques trade and private owners. For objects that meet the criteria for the materials we work with, we advise on the options available, carry out the appropriate treatment, and recommend future care of the object.

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