VA7017 - Collections Care

What will I learn on this module?

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

How will I learn on this module?

In keeping with the ethos of the programme the learning is led by you completing the assignment rather than by following a series of lectures. The assignment has been designed to draw you through the learning required in order to achieve the outcomes for the module. The assignment requires you to select an artefact from those provided and describe its function, construction materials, condition and vulnerability. You then need to develop strategies for storage, display and transit and provide details of any materials or equipment that you have recommended. You have the opportunity to personalise your learning by selecting an artefact that is of interest to you. So if you chose a textile you would then seek out the information provided on textiles, their storage, display and transit. You might also like to look at relevant information at one of the many links provided to conservation suppliers and organisations. In order to help you develop a logical approach to this work, which forms an important part of professional practice we provide you with a template for the documentation of the artefact and another for the materials and equipment recommendations. There is an opportunity to engage with a formative assignment in week four that is a similar documentation exercise for which you will receive generic feedback. You will also receive feedback on the summative assignment that will help further guide your learning. We provide all the learning materials via our e learning portal (elp) and these are made available throughout the programme, which means that you can study them as often as needed to develop a real understanding and deep learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

At the start of the collections care module the module tutor will provide in induction to the e learning portal (elp) content and it’s functionality to ensure that you are confident as to what you need to do, where you can find things and how to use the technology. This requires you to complete a number of small tasks for which automatic feedback is provided.
In addition you need to contribute to discussion boards in order to exchange issues related to preventive conservation and collections care with your fellow students. These will be read by the module tutor who will moderate as appropriate but this is essentially an opportunity for you to develop the networking skills that play an important role in professional practice. You will be provided with a personal development plan (PDP) that is hosted in a private blog on the elp. It provides an opportunity for you to discuss ideas for your personal research with your tutor as and when convenient to you. It also provides an opportunity for the module tutor to support your learning during the module and discuss how you might shape assignments to support your personal research. The tutor will respond to your comments and raise questions where necessary. Should any additional queries arise they can be discussed with the module tutor by e mail or mobile phone in the even of an emergency.

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 (K&U):
1. Understand the relevance of the history, materials, creation, deterioration, vulnerability as well as the physical and chemical characteristics of items/collections of movable cultural heritage to their care, preventive conservation and interpretation
2. Understand, develop and implement appropriate strategies, policies and procedures for the care and preventive conservation of items/collections of movable cultural heritage

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. The ability to use critical thinking and reflective practice in an independent pro-active manner that draws upon and synthesises a wide range of knowledge and understanding in order to develop and implement appropriate strategies for the care and preventive conservation of items/collections of movable cultural heritage
4. Demonstrate the ability to take responsibility for your own learning by: selecting the knowledge required to complete assignments from resources available on the elp; identifying appropriate additional resources of knowledge; working on independent and group projects; considering the views of tutors and peers in the development or enhancement of your own work; making constructive use of feedback; determining the focus for the dissertation; shaping their assignments; securing the placement offer and assignment topic and identifying your own learning needs

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate enthusiasm, curiosity, integrity, ethical and professional awareness in all aspects of work, communication and engagement with others

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
A 5000 word formative assignment is submitted via the elp at the end of week four. Generic feedback is provided automatically on submission

Additional Formative Feedback
Additional Formative Feedback is provided in response to the pdp, Discussion Boards and e mail enquiries

Summative Assessment
Students select an artefact from a range provided on the elp. The assignment requires two templates to be completed. One documents the artefact in terms of its function, materials, condition and vulnerabilities and then develops appropriate strategies for storage, display and transit. The second template provides full details of all the materials and equipment that have been recommended within a 5000 word count
The summative assignment should be submitted at the end of week ten for which feedback is provided according to university guidelines

Electronic Submission & Feedback
Electronic submission and swift high quality feedback is provided for both formative and summative assignments. According to the University guidelines

Module Learning Outcomes

1,2,3,4 & 5





Module abstract

This exciting module immerses you in the world of preventive conservation and collections by engaging you with the complexities and challenges of professional practice. You will be introduced to a wide range of materials and artefacts found in collections including paper, paintings, metals, ceramics, textiles, wood and historic photographs. We provide you with a range of interactive technology including the use of audio visual recordings of processes, such as historic paper making, and demonstrations of procedures, such as un-framing and re-framing a work of art. You are taken on virtual tours of museums and galleries where you are required to consider and discuss the often challenging demands of professional practice such as the conflict between providing access whilst also maintaining security. You are introduced to the polices, legislation and ethics that provide the framework for professional practice such as surveys, benchmarking, emergency preparedness and health and safety. Much of this learning is developed through the completion of the assignment which requires you to develop strategies for storage, display and transit, thereby placing you at the heart of professional practice.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

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

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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