Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ARCH40190: Professional Practice

Department: Archaeology

ARCH40190: Professional Practice

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 90 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap
Tied to F4K507


  • Conservation Theory & Conservation Skills.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to develop the skills of a professional conservator and to experience the responsibilities and pressures present in the working environment. Through this module students develop and demonstrate the organisational, judgmental, 'hands on', and preventive skills of a professional conservator.


  • This module comprises working on placement in a working conservation laboratory for 9 months. This gives the students the experience of working with a wide range of archaeological and museum objects and the opportunity to develop a wide range of practical conservation skills. They will also gain an understanding of the organisational and managerial skills necessary to secure and utilise the resources required to solve the problems that conserving our heritage will present.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A detailed knowledge of the physical and chemical basis for the decay, stabilisation and conservation processes of ancient and historic materials.
  • A detailed understanding at an advanced level of archaeological and historic materials and technologies, in order to appreciate and recover the information contained in every object.
  • A detailed knowledge to professional standard of the principles of monitoring and the control of museum environments and an appreciation of the range of techniques utilised in preventive conservation.
  • A substantive understanding the organisation of conservation, and the key ethical ideas and debates that underpin it.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Advanced practical skills necessary for competently cleaning (remove surface accretions and decay products above the original surface), stabilising and restoring (accurate reconstruction or revisualisation) artefacts and a professional knowledge of the safety issues inherent in working within a conservation laboratory.
  • Develop to a professional standard, the judgmental skills necessary for pro-active decision making in conservation work.
  • Skills to a professional level in monitoring and controlling object environments and the techniques of preventive conservation.
  • A mastery of research and recording skills relevant to dealing with the conservation of historical and archaeological objects.
  • The skill of object replication (exact three dimensional duplication of an object form).
Key Skills:
  • Become familiar with, and gained experience in, methods of analytical investigation.
  • A well-developed understanding of the organisational and managerial skills (necessary to secure and utilise the resources that will be required to solve the future problems which conserving our heritage will present).
  • Communication skills in written, image, computer and verbal formats to a professional standard.
  • Demonstrate to a professional standard an ability to undertake research, collect information (data) and critically evaluate it, and to draw appropriate conclusions.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is primarily provided through discussions with the industrial supervisor and visiting member of staff.
  • Learning is primarily achieved through working in the industrial placement laboratory and discussion with the professional conservators working in that laboratory.
  • Assessment is achieved through a Portfolio. Feedback is provided to the student on their seminar presentation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorial 1 3 3
Seminars 2 0.5 1
Self study & practical work 896
Total 900

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio of Professional Practice Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Portfolio 18000 words 100% 1

Formative Assessment:

2 seminars.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University