Why study Conservation of Fine Art?
The MA Conservation of Fine Art programme is a multidisciplinary programme, which combines studies in the sciences and art history with the development of practical skills relating to the conservation of fine art. It is one of only three programmes in the UK to offer studies in practical conservation of easel paintings, and one of only two to offer conservation of works of art on paper.
As part of the programme, students visit conservation departments in the UK. Students are also encouraged to complete work experience placements in museums and with conservators working in the independent sector, in the summer recess between Years 1 and 2.
Conservation has been defined as 'all that concerns the condition and preservation of the work of art, the control of its environment and its restoration'. This is an important aspect of museum work.
Students choose between two specialist options, the conservation of easel paintings or the conservation of works of art on paper.
What you will study
You will follow one of two pathways through the programme specialising in either the conservation of easel paintings or the conservation of works of art on paper. The programme is delivered in a series of modules detailed below:
Conservation Theory and Practice You will study both preventive and interventive techniques used for the conservation and restoration of works of art in their specialist field. You will develop an understanding of the causes of deterioration including the techniques used for monitoring and control of the environment and the ability to recommend conditions for the safe storage and display of works of art. You will study the materials and techniques used to treat damaged works of art and develop the essential observational, problem-solving, diagnostic, manual dexterity and handling skills to be able to carry out conservation treatments and to critically appraise treatment outcomes and will also learn techniques used to examine and document the condition of works of art before, during and after conservation treatment.
History of Artists' Materials and Techniques develops principles of visual analysis and interpretation and the necessary oral and written skills required to describe works of art. You will develop a sound understanding of the principal artistic development in Western Art together with the key figures involved and develop the skills required to engage in historic art research. Depending on your speciaist field of study you will also study historic painting or printing techniques and carry out practical work to explore and demonstrate their understanding of these techniques
Chemistry for Fine Art Conservation is an introduction to chemistry for fine art conservators, you will also be introduced to the chemistry of artists' materials. In the second semester of Year 1 the chemistry module enables students to comprehend the chemistry and stability of artists' materials and of conservation treatments. In the first semester of the second year you will be introduced to the microscopical analysis of pigments and fibres and to various forms of chromatography as methods for media analysis and organic pigment analysis.
Physics for Fine Art Conservation will introduce you to the physical principles which are relevant to the practice of fine art conservation, and to enhance your understanding and skills associated with some of the instruments and techniques employed in fine art conservation. You will develop an understanding of the effects of the physical properties of the materials used by artists on the appearance of works of art and be able to carry out and interpret the results of various methods of examination.
Year 1 Modules
EN0368 Physics for Fine Art Conservation (OPTION, 10 Credits)
HC0279 An Introduction to The Chemistry of Artists Material (OPTION, 10 Credits)
HC0657 Conservation Theory & Practice: WAP 1 (OPTION, 20 Credits)
HC0658 Conservation Theory & Practice: WAP 2 (OPTION, 40 Credits)
HC0659 History of Art, Materials and Techniques: WAP1 (OPTION, 20 Credits)
HC0660 History of Art, Materials and Techniques: WAP 2 (OPTION, 10 Credits)
HC0661 History of Art, Materials and Techniques: EP1 (OPTION, 20 Credits)
HC0662 History of Art, Materials and Techniques: EP 2 (OPTION, 10 Credits)
HC0663 Conservation Theory & Practice: EP 1 (OPTION, 20 Credits)
HC0664 Conservation Theory & Practice: EP 2 (OPTION, 40 Credits)
HC0668 Chemistry for Fine Art Conservators (CORE, 10 Credits)
Year 2 Modules
HC0299 Chemical Analysis of Artists Materials (CORE, 10 Credits)
HC0665 Conservation Theory & Practice: EP 3 (OPTION, 50 Credits)
HC0666 Masters Research Project: Conservation of EP (OPTION, 60 Credits)
HC0669 Conservation Theory & Practice: WAP 3 (OPTION, 50 Credits)
HC0670 Masters Research Project: Conservation of WAP (OPTION, 60 Credits)
COURSEWORK AND ASSESSMENT
The value of the artworks undergoing conservation treatment entrusted to the University by museums and galleries and private owners, requires a high proportion of supervised practical work, which is continually assessed. Seminars and written examinations are also part of the assessment procedure. Final year assessment includes a research project, which is similar to a dissertation but includes practical conservation as well as science and art history.
Selection is by interview of shortlisted candidates in March or April. If selected for interview, applicants must present a portfolio of artwork and take a practical test.
Application forms must be submitted by the end of January in the year of proposed entry. In the case of overseas applicants, an application should be accompanied by a transcript of first degree studies.
Unfortunately it is not possible for candidates to make individual visits to the conservation studios prior to the interview. Candidates wishing to attend the Open Day should make a written request, separate from their application.
Graduates of the MA programme compete successfully for positions of assistant conservation officer in museums and art galleries, whilst many progress to internships in national museums in this country or abroad. Graduates also work for practising conservators in the independent sector.
A limited number of bursaries are available from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, Scottish Education Department and Irish Education and Library Boards.
Selection is by interview of short-listed candidates in March or April. If selected for interview, applicants must present a portfolio of artwork and take a practical test. Application forms must be submitted by the end of January in the year of proposed entry. In the case of overseas applicants, an application should be accompanied by a transcript of first-degree studies. Unfortunately, it is not possible for candidates to make individual visits to the conservation studios prior to the interview. Candidates wishing to attend the Open Day (which is held in March) should make a written request separate from their application.