Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module ARCH41330: Conservation Skills

Department: Archaeology

ARCH41330: Conservation Skills

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2020/21
Tied to F4K507
Tied to F4K707


  • None.


  • ARCH40145 - Conservation Theory and Method.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to undertake a range of laboratory, fieldwork, documentation, cleaning, adhesion and replication skills.
  • To provide a foundation for later practical coursework.


  • This module consists of a series of practicals and demonstrations, which teach students to examine and successfully treat archaeological objects and to document the impacts of their interventions.

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.
  • How to visually identify the materials from which objects are made.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The practical skills necessary to competently clean (remove surface accretions and decay products above the original surface), stabilise and restore artefacts.
  • The ability to work safely in a conservation laboratory.
  • The judgement skills necessary for pro-active decision making in conservation work.
  • An understanding of the documentation skills needed to record treatments and other interventions on objects.
  • Familiarity with object replication (exact three-dimensional duplication of an object form), materials testing and the creation of protective packaging.
Key Skills:
  • How to effectively communicate conservation actions through images, text and tables.
  • The ability to undertake research, collect information (data), critically evaluate it, and draw appropriate conclusions.
  • The ability to work to deadlines and as a member within a team.

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

  • Teaching is primarily provided through supervised practicals, demonstrations, and self study materials and DUO.
  • Learning is primarily achieved through undertaking practical activities, independent study, seeing demonstrations reading.
  • Assessment is achieved through a portfolio of work.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Practicals 25 7 175
Lectures 5 1 5
Self-study 120
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Portfolio (6000 words max) Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Object conservation report 1 15% 1
Object conservation report 2 15% 1
Object conservation report 3 15% 1
Practical write up 1 15% 1
Practical write up 2 15% 1
Practical write up 3 15% 1
CV 10% 1

Formative Assessment:

Students in this module receive weekly feedback from teaching staff. Formative assessment is carried out through a precise exercise and through a write up of one practical (cleaning).

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