VA7021 - Preventive Conservation Dissertation

What will I learn on this module?

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.

How will I learn on this module?

The dissertation module reflects the wider ethos of the programme in that you learn by completing research via critical thinking, reflective practice and independent learning. This places you at the centre of your learning and requires you to be pro-active in driving your research forward and encourages you to develop the life-long learning skills fundamental to professional practice.

You are provided with online sessions via the elp that are designed to help you select, implement and interpret appropriate research methodologies and present your research in a professional and timely manner. You must finalise your research question, the timeline and have secured any ethical clearances before the end of the final semester. You may submit an overview of the structure and content of the dissertation by the end of June for formative feedback

The development of your personal research is started in the Collections Care module at the start of the program. A personal development plan (PDP) supports and directs your learning through an online blog. It helps you to identify your broad research area with support from your tutor, augmented by the academic choices you make during the programme. The PDP allows your ideas to be shared across the teaching team and with the external examiner in order to provide formative support throughout the program. They will draw upon an International network of professional practitioners in the field of Preventive Conservation to ensure that your research is current and viable, which enhances the potential for publication and employability.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported in the development and delivery of your research through your PDP as well as by email, skype and telephone as appropriate. The PDP functions as an ongoing online tutorial that is there to support your research every step of the way as and when you require it. Your tutor should be considered as an academic mentor who is there to respond to your queries, provide guidance and sometimes challenge your ideas in order for you to develop and deliver a robust piece of research fulfilling both academic and professional standards.

Discussion boards are made available for you to reflect upon your research and its challenges with your student cohort, which enables you to gather peer feedback and further embed the networking skills that are critical to future professional practice.

Your tutor will provide feedback on every aspect of your research as requested including: identifying the broad area of research; refining the research to focus on the research question(s); conducting the literature search; identifying appropriate research methods; delivering the research; interpreting the outcomes in an appropriate manner; commenting on an outline of the structure, content, timeline and ethical clearances at the end of June and providing guidance on presenting your work in a robust and professional manner. However it is essential that the final work is all your own so that you can be confidant in taking credit for the critical judgement and reflective practice that you have exercised in order to deliver your dissertation.

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:
1. Demonstrate understanding of 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 in the context of a dissertation;
2. Have knowledge and understanding of how to contextualise, theorise, research, synthesise knowledge, evidence and present an original research enquiry as appropriate to a written dissertation at level seven.

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 formulate balanced judgements when considering incomplete or ambiguous data that are communicated clearly to both specialist and non-specialist audiences in an appropriate format for a dissertation;
5. Demonstrate the ability to take responsibility for your own learning by developing a research context with reference to existing research sources for delivery of a dissertation;
6. Develop personal research built on a self-defined research question, devise appropriate methodology for responding to it and deliver in a clear, logical and appropriate format showing demonstrable originality of thought or approach.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
7. Demonstrate enthusiasm, curiosity, integrity, ethical and professional awareness in all aspects of work, communication and engagement with others;
8. Undertake research enquiry in an ethical manner, complying with University procedures.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by completing a 15000 word dissertation on a topic approved by your teaching team.


120 credits at PG Dip : for this programme VA0796 and VA0797



Module abstract

This exciting module provides you with a unique opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of the skills and knowledge required to conduct, develop and deliver Masters-level research. You will learn how to develop and present a critically evaluative and theoretically grounded literature review in the process of defining a research question that is relevant to professional practice. You will learn how to: use both primary and secondary research in order to challenge and interrogate your research question; select, implement and evaluate appropriate research methodologies; engage with theoretical and conceptual arguments and analysis; select appropriate strategies and methods for data collection as well as their evaluation and critical analysis. You will develop an understanding of ethical issues that can impact on professional practice as well as research. You will learn how to synthesise and present your research in a logical sequence that draws together the evidence for your final conclusions and recommendations.

Course info

Credits 60

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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