Furniture and Related Objects

Depending on the level you wish to study, the furniture courses give students well-rounded woodworking theory and skills that enhance your employment prospects and work towards becoming a professional furniture maker or conservator. Skills such as wood carving, wood turning, hand veneering and hand finishing will be developed. You will benefit from close connections with the heritage sector, study trips, placement opportunities and visits from industry experts.

Take a Virtual Tour of the studio and college.

Levels 4 & 5: Foundation Degree (FdA) specialising in furniture
The Foundation Degree Arts specialising in furniture allows our students to embark on more and more challenging projects which may incorporate your own designs. In the second year you can choose to develop your furniture making and finishing proficiency or begin to develop basic skills in furniture restoration. Ideal for those wanting a hands-on career, away from an office desk.

Level 6: BA (Hons) Craft Practices
The BA (Hons) Craft Practices course is a one-year programme designed to provide a route into professional practice in your chosen field or for progression onto postgraduate study.

Level 6: Graduate Diploma in Conservation Studies
Allows you to further your interest in furniture conservation and the repair of historic objects and progress to the MA Conservation Studies.

Level 7: MA Conservation Studies
The global industry standard for conservation.

Students are provided with objects from historical and private collections to work on (from archaeological finds to decorative arts objects), to acquire and practise both established and developing techniques. Recent examples include a c.1786 ceremonial Verge from The Admiralty, oriental lacquer boxes and an 18th century chair owned by Horace Walpole from Strawberry Hill Trust. You will have the unique opportunity to undertake interdisciplinary work with students from other specialisms, for example where an object is mixed materials, to broaden your understanding of a variety of materials.

Significant emphasis is placed on developing hand skills through practical work. In conservation, your application of treatments to historic objects will be underpinned through understanding both structural and decorative materials, their properties, identification, degradation and stabilisation.

Your projects will use appropriate methods to document objects and assess their condition, discuss treatment strategies, and take part in decision-making. Outcomes are recorded, discussed and communicated as part of learning through practice. The work will increase in complexity and throughout your time you will work with increasing autonomy.

See examples of student projects in our furniture blogs.

Level 7: MFA Craft Practices
A two-year full-time masters course designed to support you to further advance your practical, theoretical and professional skills, through an emphasis on specialist studio practice. 

Furniture Conservation Student at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

After you graduate and career progression

The College’s extensive links with museums, conservators and professional bodies in the heritage sector opens up an impressive range of work placement opportunities. 

Foundation degree graduates go on to work in the trade as professional furniture makers, designers or repairers, or pursue further education. Placement opportunities in year two, allow students to experience a real workshop environment.

Graduate Diploma students often choose to further their studies on the MA Conservation Studies which includes a six week work placement. Alumni typically then go on to work as conservators with public and private collections within the heritage sector, nationally and internationally, with conservation businesses or as independent conservators, furniture makers, designers or restorers. Examples include: 

  • The Maritime Museum in Rotterdam
  • Conservation Letterfrack in Ireland, Brighton
  • Museum and Knole House
  • The Royal Collection Trust
  • Science Museum
Read more in our interviews with alumni
Warburton Chair owned by the Stawberry Hill Trust


The specialist furniture workshop* is equipped with a full range of power and hand tools and individual workspaces for each student. There is a dedicated finishing area, and a separate machine shop. Students also have access to facilities shared with other departments, including:

  • Analytical laboratory
  • Photography space
  • IT suite
  • Specialist library

The on-site College Art and Conservation Library has thousands of specialist books and journals and all students have access to specialist databases in the IT suite.

Find out more about the facilities


Daniel Pateman specialist teacher in furniture design and craft at West Dean College

Daniel Pateman

Subject Leader, Furniture (and Related objects)

Daniel designs and makes furniture to commission inspired by the principles of the arts and crafts movement which had a profound influence whilst serving his apprenticeship at the Edward Barnsley Workshop in Hampshire. He has an affinity for using hand tools and how they creatively contribute to the making process.

Shayne Rivers Collections Care Subject Leader at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Shayne Rivers MA FIIC

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.

Phil Lyons, Subject Tutor for furniture courses at West Dean

Phil Lyons BA BAFRA

Subject Tutor

Phil is a BAFRA accredited conservator/restorer based in Buckinghamshire. He has twenty years experience in private practice running a small business providing a professional conservation/restoration service. 

Joe Orchard - Furniture tutor at West Dean

Joe Orchard

For the past 18 years, Joe has honed his skills as a traditional craftsperson, creating exquisite bespoke furniture pieces. His work has received the prestigious Guild Mark Award and has featured at esteemed events like Masterpiece London.


  • BA (Hons) Craft Practices

    The BA (Hons) Craft Practices: Clocks, Furniture, Metals, Musical Instruments and Books and Bindings course is a one-year programme designed to provide a route into professional practice in your chosen field or for progression onto postgraduate study.
    The course constitutes the final year of a BA (Hons) degree and is suitable for students who have undertaken a foundation degree, HND or the first two years of a degree programme in a related field or who have considerable professional experience.

  • Foundation Degree Arts - Furniture

    The Foundation Degree in Historic Craft Practices is designed to give you well-rounded woodworking theory and skills that will enhance your employment prospects or allow you to continue your studies in higher education. Furniture making projects become more challenging and may incorporate your own designs. In the second year students can choose to develop furniture making and finishing proficiency or begin to develop basic skills in furniture restoration/conservation.

  • Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies

    The Graduate Diploma provides the theoretical and practical knowledge and experience necessary to start your career as a conservator and to begin to develop an area of specialisation. The programme is designed to be accessible from both the humanities and science study backgrounds. 

  • MA Conservation Studies

    The MA Conservation Studies equips you with the high level specialist skills sought by the conservation sector. This rigorous and highly respected programme draws on an extensive sector network, nationally and internationally, including industry bodies such as Icon.