VA7015 - Conservation Theory and Practice 2

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What will I learn on this module?

This immersive and challenging 60-credit module continues to provide 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, historic, technical and tacit knowledge of materials encountered within professional practice. With increasing complexity you will further 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. Science, an integral part in understanding the deterioration and behaviour of artist and conservation materials is supported throughout this module through labs and workshops, seminars or group tutorials. Students will have an opportunity to explore materials using a range of analytical methods commonly used in the assessment of historic artefacts.
A greater emphasis is also placed in this module on independent research, professional advocacy, project management skills and situating conservation in relation to current and emerging international/global practices and debates. Following on from the framework adopted in Year 1, the conservation practical workshops are logically arranged in a sequence that mirrors actual practice.
Topics may include:
Works of Art on Paper specialism:
• Consolidation of friable painted surfaces
• Pressure sensitive tape removal
• Washing and the alkalisation of coloured and friable material
• Non aqueous facing and advanced aqueous lining techniques
• Pulp and non-aqueous repair techniques
• Retouching and toning
• European and Japanese inlaying techniques
• Mounting and assemblage and reframing

Easel Paintings specialism:
• Advanced structural treatments
• Aqueous cleaning methods
• Solvent cleaning and varnish removal
• Infilling
• Retouching
• Coatings and re-varnishing
• Reframing/ conservation framing techniques

Conservation Science:
• Temperature, humidity & light
• Resins and adhesives
• Paint media and varnishes
• Reaction kinetics and ageing
• Pigment deterioration and identification
• Cross sections and fibre analysis

How will I learn on this module?

With increasing complexity this exciting module further develops your core conservation knowledge and skills learnt during year one.
Teaching is again delivered in a reflective style using a combination of exclusive on-line lectures and materials, demonstrations and practical studio workshops which culminate in a second portfolio of work. You will continue to develop your skills in reflective practice alongsidescientific, technical examination and documentation of selected artworks and case studies. Practical studio work, whether it is centered on artworks or carefully constructed facsimiles, follow on from year one in a logical order paralleling actual practice. Contact time with academic staff once again will be used to contextualise the comprehensive and innovative electronic material designed to develop theoretical understanding and offer guidance in completing your written assignments. In support of your various projects and research interests, you are also provided with one to one science tutorials and attend further science laboratory sessions. A focus will be made on the scientific analysis of artists’ materials such as the use of polarized light microscopy for example, to help identify pigment types. In so doing this can further understanding of the historical manufacture of artworks as well as providing an insight into potential deterioration hazards and processes.

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 links to key web pages. This, along with the other unique online material can be accessed either on or off campus to encourage flexible and independent learning.
In your placement you will learn by engaging with professional conservators and museum personnel, and applying the knowledge that you have gathered from classroom-based and research-rich learning on the MA Conservation.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

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

Week 1
You will receive the programme handbook and module guide which offers information on specific details relating to assignment and submission dates.
Seminars and 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.

Formative feedback and summative assessment feedback further enhance your academic progress, research and practical skills by facilitating your reflection on and awareness of your achievements and potential as an active learner. Your tutors’ contact details and availability for tutorials is included in the module guide and posted to the e-Learning Portal.

The e-Learning portal
As in Year 1, 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. Greater emphasis will be placed on encouraging you towards independent self-directed study but clearly offered guidance during tutorials or as requested.

General support
The University and the Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences have a range of mechanisms underpinned by strategy, policy and practice that ensure that you are supported in your learning, employability and career development. You can also take advantage of a range of central university support services including Careers Advice and Chaplaincy.

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?

Knowledge & Understanding: (KU)

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 explain the degradation of artists' materials and supports in terms of the scientific understanding involved.
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.

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
2. The ability to situate conservation practice in relation to current and emerging international/global practices and debates

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment Semester 1
A) Your work will be formatively reviewed at the end of Semester 1: Power point presentation: Treatment Proposal (15 mins)

B) Work Placement Activity: Illustrated Power Point Presentation with captions not exceeding 1000 words

Summative Assessment
A) Project Documentation and Studio Practice:
‘Project Documentation’: The ‘Treatment Proposal, treatment record and storage and display and recommendations of your project artwork’. Word count 8750.
‘Studio Practice’ includes 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. 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 and theoretical concepts covered in the module
25% weighting
Combined the assignments equate to 100% of the module mark

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 tutorials and seminar sessions.





Module abstract

Building on from year one, the practical workshops which form the focus of this module are logically arranged in a sequence that parallels actual practice. Each topic serves to progress practical knowledge, expertise, and strategic planning skills in relation to core conservation treatments. To promote active learning, the teaching is once again delivered through a combination of exclusive on-line lectures and materials, demonstrations and practical studio workshops and seminars which culminate in a second a significant portfolio of work. This exciting module also furthers students’ understanding of a range of technologies used to examine and document artworks including multi-spectral techniques and microscopy. Greater emphasis is also placed on independent research, the historic, scientific and technical understanding of artist and conservation materials, professional advocacy, project management skills and situating conservation in relation to current and emerging international/global practices and debates.

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

Fee Information

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