Develop well-rounded metalworking skills and theory to enhance your employment prospects and gain the skills and competencies to work towards becoming a professional craftsperson or metalwork conservator. Across all courses, you will benefit from close connections with the gallery and heritage sectors, study trips, placement opportunities and visits from industry experts.

Metal objects are all around us, whether finely crafted heirlooms, made of precious metals or steel tin cans designed to be disposable. Our courses offer the chance to gain practical experience of designing, making and conserving across the whole range of metallic artefacts and products from silversmithing to bronze sculptures, from jewellery to arms and armour and from machinery to cutlery.

Take a Virtual Tour of the studios and college.

Depending on the level you wish to study, there are a range of courses to choose from.

Levels 4 & 5: Foundation Degree (FdA) specialising in metalwork
The Foundation Degree Arts specialising in metalwork allows students to develop metalworking skills and knowledge of processes, techniques and materials, to enhance your employment prospects, or continue your studies in higher education. Project skills encompass silversmithing through to blacksmithing, and become more challenging as the course progresses.

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 conservation 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. Recent projects include an unusual 17th century English knife, Omani Khanjar daggers, 19th century pewterware and 20th century bronze sculptures. 

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 and processes.

In conservation, projects 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.

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. 

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 have gone on to work in the sector, both in employment and as self employed designer makers, and other have gone on to further higher education. Some have established a high profile for their own designs and craftsmanship.

Graduate Diploma students often choose to further their studies on the MA Conservation Studies which includes a six week work placement to help prepare students for a career in metalwork conservation. Placements are in professional studios, museums and collections and have included:

  • Russell-Cotes Museum
  • Fishbourne Roman Palace
  • HMS Belfast
  • Heritage Royal Museums
  • Greenwich
  • Richard Rogers Conservation

Alumni have gone on to work at some of the most significant museums and collections worldwide, including: 

  • The British Museum
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Museum of London 
  • Plowden and Smith Ltd
  • Arabesque
  • Richard Rogers Conservation
Read more from metalwork alumni Sharon Robinson-Calver
Metals workshop and equipment at West Dean College


The well-equipped metals workshop* offers students individual bench spaces, a forge and foundry equipped for soldering, brazing and welding, and a tool room. There are areas for microscopy, chemicals, hot work, machining, and photography. There is also access to on-site silversmiths and blacksmithing workshops.

Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment. Shared Conservation facilities include:

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

The 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
Metalwork from Pyke Clock at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation


Kate Jennings - Metals tutor at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Kate Jennings

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.


  • 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 - Metalwork

    Develop well-rounded metalworking theory and skills that will enhance your employment prospects or allow you to continue your studies in higher education. Projects become more challenging as the course progresses and encompasses both silversmithing and blacksmithing. You will be encouraged to understand historic craft practice in order to place your own work in a broader context and gain a keen understanding of the time needed for a piece of work in a creative, problem solving environment.

  • 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.