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The full time, distance learning MA Preventive Conservation course will immerse you in the world of preventive conservation and collections care by engaging you with the complexities and challenges of professional practice.

On completion of this one-year course you will possess the specialist knowledge and skills required to provide appropriate strategies for the care, storage, display, transit and environmental management of heritage collections.

During the course you will learn about the physical and chemical characteristics of materials commonly found in collections, preventive conservation policies and procedures, conservation-cleaning processes, environmental management strategies as well as the fundamental chemistry and physics underpinning professional practice. You will also undertake a placement that will allow you to contextualise the theory that you have learnt within professional practice. Personal research is encouraged throughout the course and you are provided with the opportunity to shape assignments in support of its development, which often leads to the focus of the final dissertation.

Northumbria University is the market lead in this fast growing area of conservation practice and provides teaching that is at the forefront of this exciting discipline.

Course Information

Level of Study

Mode of Study
1 year full-time by distance learning
1 other options available


Burt Hall, Newcastle City Campus


September 2019

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

This course is delivered in a distance learning format and the none-synchronous delivery provides flexibility as to when, where and at what pace you learn, which is particularly valuable if you do not have English as a first language.

The format is invaluable if you do not wish to re-locate but if you wish to continue in employment throughout the programme you are advised to take the part time format.

All learning is student-led. You learn by identifying the area of research that is of interest to you and then develop it through the coursework and assignments using the teaching materials as appropriate. This makes the learning process more engaging, personal and meaningful. The formative and summative assignments and dissertation are designed to help you develop as the critical thinker, reflective practitioner and independent learner required in professional practice.

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

The teaching team are members, co-ordinators and directory board members of leading international conservation organisations around the world and have extensive experience in professional practice as well as teaching and learning at a distance.

The teaching team continuously draw on their international networks to identify emerging trends in professional practice. This enables them to ensure that course content remains current and that graduates have the skills and knowledge required by prospective employers.

All staff are research-active and regularly present and publish their work around the world at international peer-reviewed conferences. This places them in a strong position to guide and support you in the publication of your own research after graduation, greatly enhancing your employability.

Teaching Staff

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

Learning materials, course and module handbooks, assessment information, lecture presentation slides, web-links and reading lists are made available via our innovative e-learning platform Blackboard. You can also access student support and other key University systems through your personal online account.

The course content is delivered using smart interactive materials including lectures with voice overs, high quality virtual tours, rotating 3D artefacts with hot spots that can be magnified for examination purposes and audio-visual demonstrations of the processes and procedures used in professional practice. The high quality interactive learning materials have been developed by subject specialists and are available throughout the course so that you can develop and consolidate your knowledge and understanding as often as required. Discussion boards provide regular opportunities for you to discuss academic issues with the other students in your cohort.

You will be fully supported throughout the course by the teaching team who will help you develop your area of personal research, provide weekly feedback on formative course work and provide swift high quality feedback to any concerns or queries that you might have via email.

Distance Learning

Discover more about Distance Learning at Northumbria University

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

Research-rich learning is embedded throughout the course and our academics are research-active, publishing cutting-edge work within this specialised field.

The course has a research-based format engendering an enquiring, analytical and creative approach to the challenges of professional practice.

This course provides a large emphasis on both the development of individual research skills and the importance of group work and by the end of your course you will possess the skills required to position yourself as a confident researcher able to identify, deliver and disseminate research that will contribute to professional and enhance your employability.

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

Northumbria University has led in the development of this area of practice and a high percentage of our graduates secure employment within the sector within six months of graduation or earlier.

The work placement will greatly enhance your future career prospects by providing an invaluable opportunity to apply your skills and knowledge within a professional environment. It will allow you to start developing professional networks and help you identify which aspect of professional practice you would most like to pursue.

The high quality learning materials provided throughout your course, teamed with our established record of delivery and international network of contacts places your knowledge and understanding at the forefront of that required by the sector enhancing your employability.

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

On completion of this course you will possess the knowledge and skills required to care for collections and be able to understand, develop and implement appropriate strategies for storage, display, transit and environmental management.

We continue to support your continuous professional development after graduation through our LinkedIn alumni page, which enables us to alert you to potential jobs, conferences and publications.

A range of career options are available to graduates, with many choosing to pursue roles such as preventive conservation officers, environmental managers or collections managers in museums, galleries and heritage organisations.

The number of former graduates working in professional practice within the first six months of graduating is very high and former students work within many high profile organisations around the world including the National Trust, TATE, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, National Museum Qatar, New Brunswick Museum Canada, National Library Israel, Heritage Conservation Centre Singapore, National Gallery Victoria Australia and the National Archives Norway.

Book an Open Day / Experience Preventive Conservation

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it's like to study Preventive Conservation at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and discover your funding options.

Entry Requirements 2019/20

Standard Entry

Applicants should normally have:

A minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject such as art history, archaeology, fine art, chemistry, physics, engineering or computing, or substantial work experience in collections care.

International qualifications
If you have studied a non UK qualification, you can see how your qualifications compare to the standard entry criteria, by selecting the country that you received the qualification in, from our country pages. Visit
English Language requirements
International applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).
*The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS.  You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section. Visit

Fees and Funding 2019/20 Entry

Full UK Fee: £6,990

Full EU Fee: £6,990

Full International Fee: £6,990


Distant Learning students are advised to purchase : The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping (National Trust Home & Garden) - National Trust 2011, ISBN-10: 1907892184 / ISBN-13: 978-1907892189, unless there is access to a Library which has this title.


Click here for UK and EU Masters funding and scholarships information.

Click here for International Masters funding and scholarships information.

Click here for UK/EU Masters tuition fee information.

Click here for International Masters tuition fee information.

Click here for additional costs which may be involved while studying.

Click here for information on fee liability.



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* By submitting your information you are consenting to your data being processed by Northumbria University (as Data Controller) and Campus Management Corp. (acting as Data Processor). To see the University's privacy policy please click here

How to Apply

How to Apply

Application for most courses is direct to the University via our online application form. Simply click on the 'Apply Online' button you will see on each of our course entries.

However, there are some courses where the application method is not directly to the University. These are:


Postgraduate Research
If you wish to apply for postgraduate research then please submit a research enquiry.

Application Deadlines 

Whilst most of our courses do not set an exact deadline for applications, you are advised to apply early to secure your place and organise any sponsorship or funding. Overseas students should submit applications to us by no later than 31 July for courses starting in early September or 1 December for courses that commence in January. This allows sufficient time to process our decision, for you to obtain visas and to organise your accommodation and travel arrangements.

Graduate Teacher Training Courses
Equal consideration is given to all applications received by UCAS Teacher Training by the main application deadline, details of all deadlines can be found on the UTT website.

Law professional courses
For details about the selection and allocation process for the full-time Law Professional courses please see the relevant website. For the Legal Practice Course (LPC)/Common Professional Examination and the Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE/GDL) courses, and for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC and BPTC LLM)

 Master of Fine Art (MFA)

Master of Fine Art (MFA) We encourage all applications to the MFA programme for entry in September 2017 to apply prior to our guaranteed application review date of 1st June 2017. After this date, we will review applications subject to there being remaining spaces on the programme.


Decision Making Process

Most courses require at least one reference, but some may need two. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure Northumbria receives a satisfactory academic reference. If you have not been in education for a number of years, then a reference from your employer may be acceptable.

We try to reply to applicants as soon as possible but you should receive a response within 10 working days, and this will be one of the following.

  • Conditional offer which will normally be upon the completion of your undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification and achieving a particular classification or grade. You will be required to send us a confirmation that you have passed your current degree course as soon as you receive notification to enable us to confirm your offer. 
  • Unconditional offer is made if you have already met the entry requirements of your chosen course 
  • Reject your application 

You will be asked to confirm your acceptance in writing of any offer made.

Fairness and Transparency
The University is committed to a system of admissions that ensures fairness, transparency and equal opportunities within the legal framework of the UK and best practice. All reasonable effort will be made to ensure that no prospective or existing student is unreasonably treated less favourably on the grounds of age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, creed, disability, sexual orientation, gender, marital or parental/carer status, political belief or social or economic class, or any other type of discrimination.

Tuition Fee Assessment
Tuition fees are set at different levels for Home/EU and International Students. Before you begin your course the University must establish your tuition fee status. In many cases, the University will be able to make this assessment without requiring any additional information.

Guidance can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website to help you understand how Higher Education Institutions (HEI's) make an assessment on your fee status.

Selection Process 

Applicants who may not have the standard entry qualifications are welcome to apply and may be interviewed. Some courses will interview as part of the selection process. This applies particularly to courses in art and design, teaching and health.

Health Screening
Applicants for Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Primary (Early Years) and Social Work will be required to complete a health questionnaire. They may be required to attend for doctor or nurse assessment at the University Health Centre.

Prior to beginning their programme, all applicants to Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy are advised to start a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations, available from their own GP. In addition, Midwifery applicants must provide evidence before they commence training that they are immune to Hepatitis B or have Hepatitis B non-carried status.

Applicants to these courses who have had contact with MRSA in the previous 6 months may be asked to provide evidence that they are not colonised by submitting negative swabs results prior to commencement of training. Alternatively, they may be screened on commencement of the programme.

All applicants will receive vaccination screening at the University Health Centre on commencement of their programme.

Disclosure of Criminal Background
To help the University reduce the risk of harm or injury to any member of its community caused by the criminal behaviour of other students, it must know about any relevant criminal convictions an applicant has.

Relevant criminal convictions are only those convictions for offences against the person, whether of a violent or sexual nature, and convictions for offences involving unlawfully supplying controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking. Convictions that are spent (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) are not considered to be relevant and you should not reveal them.

If you are applying for courses in teaching, health, social work and courses involving work with children or vulnerable adults, you must complete the section of your UCAS application form entitled 'Criminal Convictions'. You must disclose any criminal convictions, including spent sentences and cautions (including verbal cautions) and bindover orders. Further information on how to complete this section is available from the UCAS booklet 'How to Apply'. For these courses, applicants are required to undergo police clearance for entry and will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) enhanced disclosure form. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Access to the DBS checking service is only available to registered employers who are entitled by law to ask an individual to reveal their full criminal history, including spent convictions - also known as asking 'an exempted question'. The University is such a 'registered employer' and will send you the appropriate documents to fill in if you are offered a place in the course.

If you are convicted of a relevant criminal offence after you have applied, you must inform the university immediately. Do not send details of the offence; simply tell the University that you have a relevant criminal conviction. You may then be asked to supply more details.

Anti-fraud Checks
Please note that the University follows anti-fraud procedures to detect and prevent fraudulent applications. If it is found that an applicant supplies a fraudulent application then it will be withdrawn.

The University reserves the right to cancel an application or withdraw any offer made if it is found that an application contains false, plagiarised or misleading information.


Disabled Students

Northumbria welcomes enquiries and applications from disabled students whether disability is due to mobility or sensory impairment, specific learning difficulties, mental health issues or a medical condition. Applications from disabled students are processed in the usual way, but applicants should declare their disability at the application stage so that the University can contact them to assess how to meet any support needs they may have. Disabled applicants may be invited to visit the University so that this can be done in person.

To find out more contact:
Disability Support Team
Tel +44 (0)191 227 3849 or
Minicom +44 (0)191 222 1051


International Students

The University has a thriving overseas community and applications from International students are welcome. Advice on the suitability of overseas qualifications is available from:

International Office
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel +44 (0)191 227 4274
Fax +44 (0)191 261 1264

(However, if you have already applied to Northumbria and have a query, please contact or telephone 00 44 191 243 7906)

Provision of Information
The University reserves the right at any stage to request applicants and enrolling students to provide additional information about any aspect of their application or enrolment. In the event of any student providing false or inaccurate information at any stage, and/or failing to provide additional information when requested to do so, the University further reserves the right to refuse to consider an application, to withdraw registration, rescind home fees status where applicable, and/or demand payment of any fees or monies due to the University.

Modules Overview 2019/20


Module information is indicative and is reviewed annually therefore may be subject to change. Applicants will be informed if there are any changes.

EF0126 -

Academic Language Skills in FADSS Level 7 (Optional,0 Credits)

The purpose of this module is to develop the participant’s ability in study skills and English language skills for academic purposes.

The module is designed to develop the participants as independent learners. The module is supported by a teaching and learning plan which outlines the formal sessions, together with the tutor-directed study and independent reading. An interactive approach to seminars will draw upon the directed learning undertaken and participants’ own experience of study skills. Directed learning will centre upon a range of activities including pre-reading, preparation for interactive activities and use of the discussion board on the e-learning platform.
Independent learning will focus upon the participants identifying those skills which they need to develop and understand through a range of learning activities that might include extended reading, and reflection. The sessions will attempt to follow the principles set out by the CEM model (Sloan and Porter, 2008)

More information

VA7017 -

Collections Care (Core,30 Credits)

The module will introduce you to the knowledge and skills required for the care and preventive conservation of collections of moveable cultural heritage. It is a bit like primary health care but for collections rather than people. You will learn about the materials used in the creation of items/collections of movable cultural heritage and their physical and chemical characteristics. You will learn how they deteriorate and what you can do to minimise that happening in storage, display and transit. You will learn about processes, such as paper making, and procedures, such as un-framing and re-framing a work of art. You will learn about conservation strategies such as examination and documentation, storage, display and transit and policies such as surveys, benchmarking and emergency preparedness. You will learn about the demands and responsibilities of professional practice and how these issues are affected/influenced by ethical and legislative policies of Government and non-government agencies. You will develop the critical judgment, reflective practice and communication skills appropriate to plan, develop, implement and manage strategies in professional working practice. This module introduces you to research methods that you will draw upon in the development of your assignments and personal research. You will also start the development of your personal research in this module. Your knowledge and understanding will be further developed in subsequent modules. You will also learn to conduct research at post graduate level and the skills to become a strong independent learner

More information

VA7018 -

Conservation Science (Core,30 Credits)

As a Preventive Conservator you will be responsible for minimising the deterioration of artefacts in your care. In order to do so with confidence and competence you need to understand the physical and chemical characteristics of the materials from which the artefacts have been made as well as the factors that can impact on their condition.
In the science component of the module you will be introduced to basic chemistry and physics so that you can understand the characteristics of the respective materials on a molecular level and recognize or anticipate the degradation patterns, which can be triggered by external factors such as the environment and the materials used to provide storage, display and packing for transit.
In the environmental management component you will learn how to identify, evaluate, monitor, mitigate and manage the risks that might impact on the condition collections. You will acquire the knowledge and skills to develop, implement and interpret environmental monitoring and management strategies. You will learn how to identify and select appropriate materials for storage, display and transit. You will learn about the legal frameworks that govern professional practice, public indemnity and liability.
What you will learn during this module will be challenging, exciting and fundamental to your future professional practice

More information

VA7019 -

Conservation Cleaning (Core,30 Credits)

On this module you will learn the appropriate approaches to cleaning the types of materials commonly found in museums and galleries. You will learn to consider the characteristics of the materials, their condition as well as their vulnerability when selecting cleaning materials and techniques appropriate for conservation cleaning. You will learn about historic approaches to cleaning as well as modern cleaning products and their potential contribution to the cleaning process. In this module we consider what constitutes dirt as well as the other products that are found as surface deposits. In some instances it is a corrosion product, which is sometimes valued and retained, as with bronze and at other times not valued and removed, as with silver tarnish. You will learn about what you are removing and whether it should be removed or retained. Decisions regarding what to remove and what to retain can be linked to the function and value of the piece in the collection as well as an aesthetic sense of beauty, such as the patina of a wood or the gleam of pewter. Cleaning is a challenging subject not least because many people feel that they already know how to do it. Consequently in order to develop an appropriate approach we often need to un-learn as well as learn. This module presents cleaning in a very new light that requires you to re-consider what you think you know about cleaning and guides you to understand how it should be carried out in museum collections.

More information

VA7020 -

Work Placed Learning (Core,30 Credits)

During this module you will have an invaluable work placed learning experience in professional practice in which you can apply and further develop the theory that you have learnt in previous modules with regard to the care and preventive conservation of collections of moveable cultural heritage. The placement is for four days a week over a six week period during which you undertake the roles and responsibilities of a member of staff. As a result you will learn about the day-to-day operation of the institution, its administration and management, the respective roles and responsibilities of staff members and the scope and pace of the work involved. You will be involved with whatever is happening during that period whether it is installing or de-installing an exhibition, condition reporting and packing for transit, housekeeping, conservation cleaning, documentation, surveys, risk assessment, integrated pest management, writing reports, developing an emergency preparedness plan or attending staff training sessions or meetings. The learning materials from the previous modules will be available throughout the placement should you wish to consult them. It is your responsibility to secure the placement in advance of semester two and negotiate the placement assignment topic with the institution of your choice, both of which need to be approved by the programme leader to ensure that we are able to support your learning appropriately. Past students have often chosen an institution and placement topic that can contribute to the development of their personal research from which the dissertation may develop.

More information

VA7021 -

Preventive Conservation Dissertation (Core,60 Credits)

The Preventive Conservation Dissertation allows you to demonstrate original research with the potential to contribute to professional practice, prepare for publication and enhance employability. You will learn how to define your broad research area, which should be engaging and meaningful to you since it will be your strong, personal engagements through research projects that will drive your professional practice forward and help you to deliver dynamic and relevant outcomes. You will learn how to conduct and manage a literature search in order to identify what is already in the public domain in your area of interest. This will help develop the critical focus for your research and identify research questions. You will learn how to conduct quantitative and qualitative research in order to generate the primary date that will make your research unique. You will learn about ethical standards within professional practice and across the University. Where appropriate you will learn how to draw upon your experience of professional practice alongside academic citations. You will learn to frame and present your research in a powerful and persuasive dialogue that underpins your findings and outcomes. You will present your work within a 15,000 word dissertation in a clear, logical manner with appropriate referencing that also enables you to demonstrate project and time management skills in terms of completing a major project to deadline. The Dissertation will further refine your skills as a critical thinker, reflective practitioner and independent learner and provide you with a framework for continuing personal and professional development.

More information

No module Data

Study Options

The following alternative study options are available for this course:

Any Questions?

Our admissions team will be happy to help. They can be contacted on 0191 406 0901.

Contact Details for Applicants:

Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at

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