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Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London: Conservation of Easel Paintings

Institution Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
Department Conservation and Technology
Telephone 02039477673
Study type Taught



The MA in the Conservation of Easel Paintings is a 3-year full-time course which will prepare you for a professional career. Its interdisciplinary nature brings together art history, fine arts and the natural sciences. Applicants usually have a BA or equivalent degree in any of these subjects. The student body is international, with a yearly intake limited to six students, which makes the teacher-student ratio exceptionally high. The course leads to an exceptionally high degree of employment upon graduation, in both the most reputable institutions and private conservation studios in the world, such as the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Getty, the National Trust, and the Royal Collection. The strong practical and intellectual focus of the degree is reflected in courses designed to build on knowledge and to develop both practical and decision making skills underpinned by ethical and scientific principles.

After graduating you will have gained practical experience in a range of real easel paintings conservation and will be able to design, carry out and evaluate conservation treatments proficiently and independently. You will be able to interpret results from technical study and relate them to practice, and will be able to plan and develop original research relating to easel painting conservation. You will gain critical and communication skills that will equip you for diverse careers in conservation and beyond.

Find out more about the department’s research:

Programme Structure

The three-year programme is delivered through lectures, seminars and self-directed study, integrated with a significant proportion of problem-based learning through supervised studio-based activities including conservation treatments and technical study of easel paintings.

Year 1 This year focuses on the acquisition of foundation knowledge and the development and application of scientific methods. Courses focus on the theory, ethics and practice of conservation, technology and history of easel paintings, art history and technical study. Applied science is integrated throughout theoretical and practical courses. The teaching provides a foundation for understanding and identifying condition and conservation requirements. Practical work in the studio forms a substantial part of each term and introduces the application of principles and theory to the practical conservation and examination of easel paintings.

Year 2: The majority of time in the second year is devoted to practical work in the studio, with students becoming increasingly independent in carrying out conservation work. Lectures and workshops are devoted to preventive conservation and collections care with a monitoring exercise, and advanced principles and theory of conservation.

Year 3: The majority of the year is spent in the conservation studio undertaking practical conservation treatments. One third of the final year is devoted to an independent research project.


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