VA7014 - Conservation Theory and Practice 1

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What will I learn on this module?

You will learn via lectures, demonstrations and activity workshops, set readings and critical discussion groups. This 60-credit module provides a professional approach to core practical skills relevant to your chosen conservation specialism (Works of Art on Paper or Easel Paintings) and the related historic, scientific, preventive, technical and tacit knowledge of materials encountered within professional practice. You will also develop ethical and critical awareness and a broad range of additional skills relevant to conservation practice including analytical, problem solving, evaluative, oral and written communication skills alongside Health & Safety best practice.

Using real artworks and authentically constructed artefacts, the conservation practical workshops are logically arranged in a sequence that parallels actual practice. For example, Week 1, Semester 1, begins with un-framing followed by technical examination, documentation and interpretation which then progresses onto the preparation of adhesives, consolidation or fixing, the removal of surface soils, localised structural repair techniques and lining. This framework also continues throughout Year 2 albeit with a new set of interrelated topics.

In support of conservation practice you will attend a number of science and preventive sessions. The topics covered in former include, an introduction to polymers, binding media, solutions and concentrations, and the chemical reactions of paper and textiles. Preventive conservation and collection care sessions include important issues relating to storage, display, works of art in transit and environmental management.

How will I learn on this module?

Teaching will be delivered in a reflective way appropriate to Master’s level through a combination of on-line lectures and materials, demonstrations and practical studio/laboratory workshops. You will also develop your skills in reflective practice alongside scientific, technical examination and documentation of selected artworks and case studies. Practical studio work, whether it is centered on artworks or carefully constructed samples, follow a logical development paralleling actual practice. Contact time with academic staff will be used to supervise your practical work and help contextualise the comprehensive and innovative electronic material designed to develop theoretical understanding and offer guidance in completing your written assignments.

To direct you through independent study and enable full participation in the teaching and learning sessions, you will also have access to, via the e-learning portal (eLP), a number of dynamic reading lists and key web pages. This, along with the other unique online material can be accessed either on or off campus to encourage flexible learning.

During Semester 2, and as an integral part of the Preventive Conservation sessions, you will undertake a number of tours to local museums and galleries. This serves to contextualise key concepts and strategies relating to storage, display and transit.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported throughout this module in a number of ways:

Induction week introduces you to the module, teaching staff and many of the resources available throughout the University which support academic activities. You will also receive a programme handbook and module guide which offer information on specific details relating to assignment and submission dates.

Seminars and individual tutorials
Seminar sessions provide you with the opportunity to ask questions, discuss assessment criteria, development analytical, communication and other subject-specific skills, and receive ongoing feedback. Your regular studio and laboratory attendance will also enable you to speak to tutors on a more informal basis about the work you are engaged in. These unscheduled conversations are often a useful time to discuss an immediate practical problem or question or to check-up on your progress.

The e-Learning Portal (Blackboard)
All relevant course material is uploaded to the module e-Learning Portal (eLP) in a timely and organised manner supported by technology-enhanced learning as appropriate. You will be encouraged increasingly toward self-directed study over the course of your studies during this module, but clearly guided in the appropriate parameters and methodologies appropriate to professional practice and research.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to demonstrate:

1. Understanding of a range of core scientific principles, design and implement appropriate conservation methods based on them, manage technological and scientific data and introduction to artists' materials and supports.
2. Identify, and critically evaluate the role of research evidence and sources for the assignments.
3. Show technical and theoretical understanding of key processes, materials, and concepts and technical examination encountered in conservation practice.
4. An understanding how to manage the environment, collections and works of art.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities: (IPSA):

Upon successful completion of this module you will have:
1. Demonstrated tacit and procedural skills in selected core conservation treatments, whilst following the appropriate health and safety procedures.
2. Documented the condition and treatment of an artwork with accuracy, diligence and critical understanding.
3. Implemented a range of appropriate conservation procedures competently with the requisite skills and manage the studio environment appropriately.
4. Developed time and project management skills
5. Demonstrated the ability to coherently communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions (in verbal, visual and written form).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

Upon successful completion of this module you will have:
1. Demonstrated ethical awareness and critical reflection skills in relation to conservation practice encountered in the module

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment
Semester 1
They include:
A) Power point presentation: Condition Report (15 mins)
B) Science Lab 1,250 words: Encompassing an element of conservation science process and/ or experiment covered in the lab

• Dissertation Proposal: After consultation with subject specialist tutors, students are required to submit a short proposal on their intended final year dissertation topic. The template and guidance instructions and ethics form are provided on the eLP. On successful submission of the proposal during Week 11, formative feedback is given by their allocated guidance tutor. Summative assessment
Semester 2
Summative assessment is composed of the following elements:
A) Project Documentation and Studio Practice:
‘Project Documentation’ is The Condition and Technical Examination Report. Word count 8750.
‘Studio Practice’ includes a review of any work carried out on artworks and samples during Semesters 1 and 2. Submission of a practical/technical portfolio of samples
50% weighting
B) Science assignment. (lab report) Word count 1,250: Encompassing an element of conservation science process and/ or experiment covered in the lab
25% weighting
C) Viva Voce: (20 mins) The viva will be used to assess and provide feedback on your understanding of practical procedures
15% weighting
D) Preventive conservation and collection care online test
10% weighting.

Combined they equate to 100% of the module mark.

Written work
All written assignments are submitted electronically
Practical work
All project artworks/paintings made available and completed practical workshop samples are to be submitted in a separate ‘sample portfolio' for scrutiny at the end of Semester 2.
• The Viva will be individually scheduled

All assessment criteria and submission details are clearly defined eLP. To further guide student’s preparation, models and samples of work are also made available.
Electronic submission and swift high quality feedback is provided for both formative and summative assignments. According to the university guidelines.
Additional formative feedback is also provided throughout the module in both group and independent tutorial sessions, and in response to email enquiries.





Module abstract

This stimulating module which immediately immerses the student in the world of conservation provides a professional approach to learning the core practical skills relevant to the treatment, contextualisation and care of Works of Art on Paper or Easel Paintings. To promote active learning, the teaching is delivered through a combination of exclusive on-line lectures and materials, demonstrations and practical studio/laboratory workshops, and seminars which will culminate in a significant body of work. Students also develop skills in reflective practice and the scientific, technical examination and documentation of selected artworks and case studies. Practical studio work, whether it is largely centered on artworks, workshop samples, follows a logical development paralleling actual practice. Contact time with tutors is used to supervise practical activities and help contextualise the comprehensive electronic material available online. By introducing students to a research rich learning environment, the module stimulates intellectual growth, academic skills, and critical curiosity, especially through the capacity for independent research-led learning.

Course info

Credits 60

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Arts

Location Burt Hall, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

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