VA7016 - Conservation Dissertation

What will I learn on this module?

You will have the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities as reflective practitioners and critical scholars by examining and engaging with a topic broadly of relevance to the field. The module is designed to allow you flexibility of approach and outcome, reflecting the multi-disciplinary context of conservation and diversity of subject backgrounds with which each of you enters the programme. You will have access to a series of presentations on research skills which will enrich your methodological training for the undertaking of this module (see ‘How will I learn on this module’ for further details).

You will select the form of dissertation that best suits your own individual research and practice interests, choosing from:
1. A literature based research dissertation, requiring a synthesis, critical review, exploration and further development of an academic issue or professional topic - using existing academic and scholarly literature and, if relevant, the interpretation of primary or historic sources.
2. An applied research dissertation, requiring a technical or practice-led exploration of a problem centred enquiry, combined with scholarly review of relevant knowledge. The applied dissertation normally involves you in developing an evidence base and interpreting primary data, you may undertake practical experimentation or scientific analysis, or may use secondary analysis of existing data.

The dissertation enables you to show originality in researching a question which has to date been little explored. It also enables you to demonstrate project and time management skills in terms of completing a major project to deadline.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a small number of timetabled sessions which enable you to understand how to select a topic and prepare to research a given topic, determine a research question, for your project, select appropriate sources and undertake accurate referencing in an academic piece of work. You will have the chance to engage with the Skills support team in the University Library and follow advanced search techniques. You will attend sessions on choosing a topic, structuring a dissertation, on selecting sources and on referencing.

After those initial sessions you will spend time undertaking your individual research and engaging in supervision meetings one-to-one with your dissertation supervisor. In these sessions you will be guided as to how to complete the tasks required for writing a dissertation, you will have further individual support on making the most of your topic. You will have the opportunity to submit draft versions of chapters and to be guided by comments and annotations from your supervisor, enabling you to improve your work from engagement with the formative feedback.

If you are undertaking an applied topic for your dissertation you will be supported by Conservation tutors and specialist technicians.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported in writing your dissertation through a number of scheduled workshop sessions which cover how to choose a subject for research, how to shape an academic research project, how to define and refine a research question, how to develop and consider methodologies, how to find, collate, and present an appropriate range of sources, including academic sources. You will also have the opportunity to consider appropriate referencing styles and practice them.

You will be supported in individual tutorials booked with your allocated supervisor (these may be real-time or virtual). The tutorials will be scheduled by mutual agreement and there will normally be a minimum of three opportunities to engage with your supervisor and draft and redraft your dissertation accordingly for comment. This formative feedback provided by your tutor will enable you to enhance your work. You will generate a subject-specific reading list based on your discussions with your tutor.

Your supervisor will read and comment on your drafts, annotating them, thus enabling you to enhance your final submission.

You can also book appointments with your personal tutor, other academic tutors or book telephone support sessions, should you require further support or have particular academic issues which you need to raise.

You will be supported in dedicated laboratory research sessions, as necessary, in order to undertake any primary scientific research which you may wish to support your research.

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. Identify, and critically evaluate the role of research evidence and sources for a chosen research topic.
2. Have knowledge and understanding of how to contextualise, theorise, research, evidence and analyse an original research enquiry in a written dissertation
3. Demonstrate the analytical, critical and reflective skills necessary to demonstrate originality of thought
4. Create a clear research question and establish an appropriate methodology for responding to it

Intellectual / Professional Skills & Abilities:
5. Demonstrate the ability to coherently communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions (in visual and written form) in manner appropriate to a Level 7 dissertation
6. Demonstrate time and project management skills by completion of any scientific analysis, qualitative or quantitative research and literature review, exercising initiative and personal responsibility in the self-management and realisation of ambitions, goals and outcomes

Personal Values Attributes:
7. Demonstrate ethical awareness and critical reflection skills in relation to conservation practice and research
8. Situate conservation practice in relation to current and emerging international/global practices and debates.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by means of completing a 15000 word dissertation on a topic approved by your teaching team. Both routes through the MA Conservation programme have the same assessment requirements on this module.

Formative feedback is provided on layout, methodology, structure and on draft chapters at an early stage of the dissertation to enable you to improve your final submission. Formative feedback may be an annotation of your work or may be provided verbally.


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 within an area that is relevant to professional practice. With guidance from your tutors you will select a dissertation that best suits your own individual interests, choosing from:
1. A literature based review, requiring critical exploration and development of an academic issue or professional topic focused on existing scholarly literature or the interpretation of primary or historic sources.
2. An applied dissertation, based on a technical or practice-led exploration of a problem centred enquiry, combined with scholarly review of relevant knowledge. This commonly involves practical experimentation, scientific analysis, or the secondary analysis of existing data.
The dissertation also enables you to demonstrate time and project management skills and originality in researching a question which to date has been little explored. Combined this significantly adds to your professional profile and employability status.

Course info

Credits 60

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Arts

Location Burt Hall, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2022

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of face to face and online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions -
Fees and Funding -
Admissions Policy -
Admissions Complaints Policy -