Care of Collections (MSc)
1 year (Full-time) / 2 years (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)
The MSc in Care of Collections provides a holistic understanding of caring for cultural heritage collections. The course equips students with the expertise necessary to practice collections care within a wide range of institutions such as museums, archives and historic houses, by developing a detailed understanding and critical appreciation of the principles underpinning collections care.
It also fulfils a broader educational remit by enhancing skills to interpret, synthesise and evaluate information. In doing so it prepares students for further research. The MSc in Care of Collections provides opportunities for graduates from conservation and other disciplines to study preventive conservation and the care and management of cultural and heritage collections.
Students interested in careers within the museum sector have an opportunity to improve their career prospects within the museum profession by obtaining specialist training in the care of museum collections with the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.
The MSc in Care of Collections provides opportunities for graduates from conservation and other disciplines to study preventive conservation and care and management of cultural and heritage collections.
Who is the Programme for?
For students not seeking employment in this field, the MSc provides a stimulating and unusual taught Masters scheme that embodies elements of art and science and includes a wide range of transferable skills.
- Students will be ‘twinned’ with a real heritage organisation and have the opportunity to study the operation of this organisation and how it relates to the care of collections
- The programme does not presume a high level of scientific knowledge, which allows it to attract applicants from a wide range of disciplines
- There are a high proportion of transferable skills in research, project design and report writing within the degree scheme
- The degree offers specialist skills for students building a portfolio of qualifications for entry to the museum sector
The MSc Care of Collections is vocational; the programme is directly relevant to the activities of museums, historic houses and similar institutions. Seminars, lectures and assessed work aim to combine theoretical knowledge about the care and management of heritage collections with realistic practical applications. The programme will also encourage students to develop their verbal and written communication skills. In this way, the qualification will contribute to the student's experience and qualifications which will be relevant when seeking work within the heritage sector.
The course is modular and has a common study structure with the MSc in Professional Conservation and the MA in Archaeology - the taught element lasts for the first two semesters of study and is assessed at the end of this period; this is followed by a dissertation.
Most teaching occurs on Thursdays and Fridays although extra tutorials and field trips may be held on Wednesdays.
Students take a total of 180 credits of modules, consisting of:
- 40 credits of core skills modules
- 40 credits of a compulsory module
- 40 credits of option modules selected by the student
- 60 credit dissertation (topic or theme chosen by the student in consultation with academic staff).
A diverse range of teaching and learning styles are used throughout the MSc Care of Collections. Students will attend lectures and will participate in seminars and tutorials. With the support of the teaching staff, MSc students take an active role in the learning process. Some of the teaching will be located in-situ in partner museum and related heritage organisations. Guest lecturers with a specialism in the heritage sector are invited to present on aspects of collections care such as IPM or heritage management. Specific details of the guest lecturers will provided within the module information. Additional evening lectures are arranged to bring in the latest research and innovation from the heritage sector.
Resources and Facilities
Students will be provided with teaching and learning resources through the School. These include the Postgraduate Handbook and handouts produced for specific modules and these are made available via Learning Central (Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment).
Much of the teaching is seminar based but students will be supported in transport to and equipment for field trips and site visits. Students will have access to environmental monitoring equipment in order to develop skills in monitoring and interpreting data.
This course is assessed by a variety of methods, including written assignments, exams and presentations. There will be formatively assessed coursework including professionally focussed tasks. The precise distribution of course work and allocation will depend on your selection of modules.
Additionally, students undertake a Dissertation of 20,000 words.
Students will acquire a broad range of transferable skills including the ability to:
- Defend a strategy for collections management in a complex situation with multiple possible outcomes
- Exercise initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex situations and offer pragmatic evidence based solutions
- Talk with conservators and conservation scientists on the decay of objects
- Understand simple management strategies for the analysis of organisations in context and for planning and managing change
- Recognise and utilise basic influence techniques
- Present information in a professional context
- Source and synthesise data and apply it in a complex context
- Acquire an independent learning ability required for continuing professional development
- Carry out independent research on specialist subjects
Graduates from the MSc Care of Collections have gone on to work in a broad range of jobs in the cultural and heritage sector. Graduates have found roles as house stewards, conservator, design officer, collections manager, property manager, preventive conservation officer, etc. Other graduates have used the skills from the degree to find roles such as University administrator, civil servants, teacher and archive assistant.
'This course allowed me to enhance my skills quickly and effectively'
Christian Baars, MSc Care of Collections (2014-15)
Read Christian's full testimonial
'Having recently been appointed as Preventive Conservator at National Museum Cardiff, the MSc Care of Collections provides me with a structured and compressed programme of learning that allows me to enhance my skills quickly and effectively.'
Christian Baars, MSc Care of Collections (2014-15)
'This course prepares you to hit the ground running when entering the workforce.'
Simon Lambert, MSc Care of Collections 2008-2009
Read Simon's full testimonial
''The MSc Care of Collections strengthened my managerial abilities and provided several opportunities to test them in practical and theoretical situations. This course prepares you to hit the ground running when entering the workforce, as it not only focuses on concerns for object- and collection-level care, but also on developing literacy in policymaking and cultural strategy. At the end of this course, you understand the issues, you can approach them critically, and you are equipped with the right tools to find viable solutions.'
Simon Lambert, MSc Care of Collections 2008-2009. Simon now works as Preservation Development Advisor for the Canadian Conservation Institute.
Applicants should hold a 1st or upper 2nd class UK Honours degree in an appropriate subject.
International students can find equivalent entry requirements via our website.
Suitable for graduates in archaeology, history, ancient history, conservation, science and chemistry, and other related and relevant disciplines. Graduates in physics, biology, geology and astrophysics would also be considered.
If you have an arts based degree you must supply evidence of the highest level of education within science that you have achieved. Evidence of an interest in or commitment to the cultural heritage sector will strengthen an application.
Evidence of an interest in or commitment to the cultural heritage sector will strengthen an application.
Students whose first language is not English will be required to pass an IELTS test (minimum 6.5) or equivalent.
Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.
How to Apply
Applications can be made for this course via our Online Application Service selecting the MSc Care of Collections option from the list of courses. Applicants should use the Personal Statement section of the form to outline their area of interest.
Please state your highest level of scientific qualification in your application and include your certificates with your scanned documents. We will consider results from the IAP course Chemistry for Conservators as evidence of your scientific ability.
Decisions will be made on the basis of your written application and the references received. Decisions will be made on a continuous basis throughout the year.
For more information on funding available for Masters students in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion please see the school's funding website.
UK & EU Full Time Fees: (Payable annually and those stated are for 2015/16 unless otherwise stated below).
UK & EU Part Time Fees: (Payable annually and those stated are for 2015/16 unless otherwise stated below).
International Full Time Fees: (Payable annually and those stated are for 2015/16 unless otherwise stated below).
International Part Time Fees: (Payable annually and those stated are for 2015/16 unless otherwise stated below).
Next intake: September each year
Name: Ms Jane Henderson
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 5629