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Professional Conservation (MSc)

1 year (full-time) / 3 years (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

This is an opportunity for conservators with an existing undergraduate qualification to upgrade their skills and qualifications to a Masters level. The degree will give you a chance to reflect and develop your critical thinking skills and analytical techniques for a career in conservation and Heritage Science. The degree is also suitable for science graduates keen to build a career in a scientific role within the cultural heritage sector.

Course Aims

Cardiff's Professional Conservation MSc provides opportunities for qualified conservators and scientists to develop their primary training in professional conservation practice and to enhance their research skills. The MSc Professional Conservation is designed primarily for trained conservators, but also provides science graduates with the opportunity to utilise their training and to develop their specific research skills within conservation science.

Special Features

Who is this Programme for?

This is a conversion course and is designed for graduates who want to pursue a career in this area and whose first degree was in a related area, including conservation or science degrees, such as chemistry or physics.

This course is aimed at practicing conservators or heritage scientists, students with a degree in science who wish to move into the heritage sector in a scientific role.

Course Description

The MSc provides research skills, transferable skills and specialist knowledge. The course is modular and has a common study structure with the MSc in Care of Collections and MA in Archaeology - all students undertake a taught element followed by a dissertation.

Course Structure

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. Some students elect to attend modules from the related undergraduate degrees and this can be agreed on a case by case basis.

Students take a total of 180 credits of modules, consisting of:

Please see the Archaeology and Conservation website for more course and module information.

Core Modules

  • Analysis in Heritage Science (20 credits)
  • Scientific Approach in Conservation Practice (20 credits)
  • Skills and Methods for Postgraduate Study (20 credits)
  • Postgraduate Skills in Archaeology & Conservation (20 credits)

Optional Modules

  • Assessment and Design for Collections Care (40 credits)
  • Method in Conservation (40 credits)
  • Museums Objects Environment (40 credits)


Following the taught modules, students complete a Dissertation of 20,000 words (60 credits).


This course is assessed via a variety of methods.

Each module is assessed via written assignments and presentations.

Following the taught modules, students complete a Dissertation of 20,000 words.

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.

Teaching Methods

The teaching involves combinations of lectures, seminars, group discussion, tutorials, laboratory classes, demonstrations and field trips. Delivery modes are selected and balanced according to the structure and goals of specific modules.

Resources & Facilities

Cardiff Conservation has a wide range of analytical facilities including an Analytical Scanning Electron Microscope, with EDX and WD analysis. This is used routinely to identify and investigate the composition and structure of objects undergoing conservation. To better understand the properties of materials the Cardiff facilities include a climatic chamber for testing objects and materials responses to fluctuating atmospheric moisture and temperature. Students have access to FTIR, XRF and XRD equipment. Further support for investigating and analysing objects that undergo conservation comes from a wide range of both traditional and digital microscope, x-radiography and photographic facilities with a dedicated image processing laboratory and computer suite. Treatment facilities include a freeze-drying system for treating waterlogged materials (such as wood and leather), a kiln and an airbrasive suite for the investigation of metal surfaces and removal of corrosion.

Conservation has recently acquired a ND:YAG Laser, funded by a grant gained from Clothworker's Foundation. Its use for removing coatings and dirt from archaeological and historical materials boosts the range of skills conservation students will obtain and builds their employability portfolio.

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).


Skills Acquired

Students will acquire a broad range of transferable skills including the ability to:

Career Prospects

Graduates have found roles as conservation scientists, lecturers, researchers, conservators or gone on to higher levels of study.

Student Views

'MSc Professional Conservation...directly helped me to get my current job'

Jihyun Kwon, alumnus

Read Jihyun's full testimonial

'MSc Professional Conservation enabled me to broaden my knowledge and understanding on various roles of conservators, which directly helped me to get my current job. Factors that I would particularly recommend about the course are the supportive teaching staff and the Lab facilities.

'MSc Professional Conservation is a unique conservation course, which cannot be found at any other universities. This is an especially perfect course for who already have a conservation background, as one can be more prepared for the real workplace.'

Jihyun is now working as a metal conservator at the Conservation Science Centre, National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, South Korea.

Entry Requirements

1st or upper 2nd class UK Honours degree in an appropriate subject. Suitable for graduates in conservation, conservation professionals and science graduates. Graduates from the following areas of study would also be considered: chemistry, physics, natural sciences, biology or other science subjects.

International students can find equivalent entry requirements via our website.

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 Professional Convervation option from the list of courses.

Applicants should use the Personal Statement section of the form to outline their area of interest and, if possible, the topic that they hope to research for their dissertation.

Admissions Process

Decisions will be made on a continuous basis throughout the year on the basis of your written application and the references received.


For more information on funding available, please see the funding website.

Tuition Fees 2016/17

Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.

  UK & EU International
Full-time £7,750 £18,250
Part-time £3,875 £9,125
Deposit n/a Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Ms Jane Henderson  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 5629 



School Website:

School Contact

Name: Helen Szewczyk  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 0903 



School Website:

More information

School of History, Archaeology and Religion


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