Subject Specialisms

At West Dean College students can expect a creative environment with a forward thinking approach, professional connections and strong focus on craft techniques, whether these are deployed in the making of new work or in the conservation of existing objects. 

The College offers a rich arts environment and a focus on craft skills with vocational application. Small classes, extended studio access, talented tutors and exceptional facilities enable you to develop your passion and reach your full potential.

Specialisms include conservation and crafts subjects, and benefit from close connections with the heritage sector, visiting industry experts and access to the College’s unique collection. Alumni can be found in prestigious museums and heritage organisations worldwide and as independent conservators, makers, designers or repairers.

“Attending West Dean College is a once in a life time opportunity. Smaller numbers in the workshop allows for more dedicated one-on-one time and provides an opportunity to learn skills outside of your core course through cross disciplinary collaboration on projects both in and out of the workshops.”
Amberley Nelson, President of the Student Association

  • Books and Library Materials

    Books and Library Materials is the largest specialism in the material conservation sector, and this programme has a high success rate with alumni going on to work in Libraries and Archives worldwide. Develop the skills and competences to work towards becoming a professional book conservator. You will study historic bookbinding techniques and the relationship between structure, mechanical use and deterioration. 

  • Ceramics and Related Materials

    Specialise in Ceramics and Related Materials and work with a range of exciting objects from historical and private collections, from archaeological finds to decorative arts objects. You will have the opportunity to acquire, develop and practise techniques as you develop the skills and competences to work towards becoming a professional ceramics conservator.

  • Furniture and Related Objects

    You can study Furniture from Foundation degree, where you can gain the skills to set you on a path to becoming a craftsperson, to a Masters in Conservation Studies with Furniture as your specialism. Students work on a range of live projects in a stimulating workshop environment. Enhance your employment prospects and work towards becoming a professional furniture conservator or craftsperson. Significant emphasis is placed on developing hand skills through practical work.

  • Horology, Clocks and Related Objects

    Studying Clocks and related dynamic objects gives you the opportunity to develop the skills and competences to work towards becoming a professional horologist or horological conservator, a respected and specialised field. Students are inspired by live projects and learn in a well-equipped workshop. You can study Clocks from Foundation degree to a Masters in Conservation Studies with Clocks as your specialism, and continue with further professional development study in horology.

  • Interior Design

    Transform your passion into a profession with our interior design courses. 
    Whether you're a budding beginner with a keen eye for interiors or a design professional looking to elevate their expertise, our industry-leading courses in interior design are for creators of all levels. 

  • Metalwork

    Studying Metalwork opens up a range of possibilities for you as you work towards becoming a professional craftsperson or metalwork conservator. Students have access to live projects and exceptional facilities. You can study from Foundation degree to a Masters in Conservation Studies with Metalwork as your specialism. Learn the well-rounded metalworking skills and theory to enhance employment prospects and gain the skills and competences for a future in the sector.

  • Musical Instruments

    The facilities at the College and knowledge and expertise of our tutors mean the internationally respected musical instrument programme is ideal if your goal is to set up an instrument-making workshop or to work in the trade. The College has a dynamic and creative music community that attracts students with a passion for music who are ready to channel that interest into skilled instrument making.