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Advanced Practical Projects - 40 credits (HST460)

Course Description

A module designed to develop student’s ability to translate conservation theory into practice through the medium of practical projects, which involves the conservation of a wide range of cultural material.

Credits: 40

Availability of module: Every year

Prerequisites: HS2331

Necessary for: MSc  Conservation Practice

Tutors: Jane Henderson with Phil Parkes and Yiota Manti

Teaching methods

  • Supervised laboratory work and seminars using a problem based learning model of teaching, where students are allocated museum and archaeological objects for conservation and research. Students will have a minimum of 140 supervised hours but in practice most students undertake considerably more. Students work on individual object supported by a range of teaching staff and mentors. Learning from this module is captured in a reflective learning log known as The Project Notebook.
  • Vacation placement in an approved conservation laboratory in the UK or abroad, normally during the summer vacation.
  • Students are supplied with a range of supporting information such as the Guide to Conservation Practice to detail procedures and operating systems for the conservation laboratories and specific Health and Safety information. Further seminars are offered to supplement specific aspects of laboratory practice on a case by case basis related to the objects being worked on.


  • Assessment of the module is made under the four headings, core research skills, practical skills, organisational skills and good practice. Students are assessed on the basis of exchanges with staff, outcomes from their practical work and an appraisal of their Project Note Books.
  • Students are offered a full formative appraisal on completion of the autumn semester and summative assessment on completion of the spring semester.
  • Students are required to produce two further pieces of summative work each contributing 10% of the marks, these projects, known as ‘Project Reports’ are student led reports on topics related to their practical, some students will produce a portfolio of work.
  • Students are required to complete laboratory records and these will be assessed formatively.

Summary of course content

This module uses object based learning in a series of practical seminar classes to teach the principles and practice of conservation.  This is a practical module designed for students to demonstrate that the can translate conservation theory into practice in a range of specific contents. The projects are laboratory based and students are required to develop conservation strategies for a broad range of cultural materials which present complex challenges. Students should refine their conservation treatment rationale to an approach that they can use for all projects. Treatment work should be supported by research in conservation procedures appropriate to the objects to be treated. Following discussions students will produce an agreed conservation strategy. The student completes the project with the agreement of the teaching staff. Learning outcomes for the module are correlated to the novice to expert scale utilised by Icon, The Institute for Conservation for competence assessment.

The clients that supply the projects will include archaeologists, museums, trusts and national agencies such as English Heritage. How students develop communication, time management, decision making, presentation and good record keeping skills are all important factors within this course.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:

  • understand the ethical basis of the conservation profession and the responsibilities of the conservation professional to cultural heritage and to wider society.
  • understand the wider contexts in which conservation is carried out, the implications of context for practice, and the implications of treatments and methods within specific contexts.
  • understand the practical and theoretical principles of conservation and demonstrate an in-depth understanding of this in practice via the projects carried out.
  • carry out and refine laboratory testing and assessment of techniques and materials.
  • research, formulate and evaluate complex conservation options showing an holistic awareness of conservation.
  • use critical thinking, analysis and synthesis in approaching complex conservation problems and  using this evidence develop appropriate or innovative practical solutions.
  • implement treatment-based, preventive or conservation management measures using a broad range of equipment found in a conservation laboratory routinely achieving fully acceptable standards.
  • maintain records of conservation measures to professional standards.
  • take full responsibility for the care of cultural heritage within their influence.
  • communicate recommendations and advice effectively and authoritatively.
  • demonstrate the ability to reflect on and learn from their own practice.
  • manage complex conservation projects and organise their work schedule to meet agreed deadlines.
  • describe, implement and conform with general health and safety regulations.

Suggested book purchases


Suggested preparatory reading

See content of HS 2331 Students will have identified research strategies for HST 460 arising from their projects in HS 2331 and should pursue research appropriate to objects allocated.

ICOM-CC Read the most recent triennial

Richmond, A, (2009) Conservation: Principles, Dilemmas and Uncomfortable Truths, Butterworth Heineman

Munoz-Vinas S. 2005 Contemporary Theory of Conservation Elsevier

Primary sources

The module will require a broad range of reading, mainly from conference publications, journals and edited compilations. Students will be expected to undertake reading for specific case studies from all these sources and may use additional web sources such as manufactures data, safety information, museums and heritage related sites. Additional resources for the laboratory work can be found on the SHARE CL module on Learning Central.