VA7045 - Conservation Theory and Practice I: Easel Paintings

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn via lectures, demonstrations, practical workshops, set readings and critical discussion groups. This 30-credit module provides a professional approach to core practical skills relevant to your chosen conservation specialism (Works of Art on Paper or Easel Paintings) and the related historic, scientific, preventive, technical and tacit knowledge of materials encountered within professional practice. You will also develop reflective, ethical and critical awareness and a broad range of additional skills relevant to conservation practice including analytical, problem solving, evaluative and written communication skills alongside Health & Safety best practice.

Using real artworks and authentically constructed artefacts, the conservation practical workshops are logically arranged in a sequence that parallels professional practice. This framework also continues throughout the Programme albeit with a new set of interrelated topics.

In support of conservation practice, of the Module is supported by Conservation Science and Art History lectures, which help to contextualise approaches to treatment. Study in Preventive Conservation and Collection Care is also provided through a self-guided series of online lectures.

How will I learn on this module?

Teaching will be delivered in a reflective way appropriate to Master’s level through a combination of online study materials, practical demonstrations and guidance and studio workshops. You will also develop your skills in reflective practice alongside scientific, technical examination and documentation of selected artworks and case studies. Practical studio work, whether it is centred on artworks or historically reconstructed samples, follow a logical development paralleling professional practice. Contact time with academic staff will be used to supervise and support your practical work and help contextualise the comprehensive and innovative electronic material and seminar discussion designed to develop theoretical understanding and offer guidance in completing your written assignments. To direct you through independent study and enable full participation in the teaching and learning sessions, you will also have access to, via the e-learning portal (eLP), a number of dynamic reading lists and key web pages. This, along with the other unique online material can be accessed either on or off campus to encourage flexible learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported throughout this module in a number of ways:

Induction week introduces you to the module, teaching staff and many of the resources available throughout the University which support academic activities. You will also receive a programme handbook and module guide which offer information on specific details relating to assignment and submission dates.

Seminars and individual tutorials
Seminar sessions provide you with the opportunity to ask questions, discuss assessment criteria, development analytical, communication and other subject-specific skills, and receive ongoing feedback. Your regular attendance will also enable you to speak to tutors on a more informal basis about the progress of your work. These unscheduled conversations are often a useful time to discuss a practical problems and queries, or simply to check in on your progress.

The e-Learning Portal (Blackboard)
All relevant course material is uploaded to the module e-Learning Portal (eLP) in a timely and organised manner supported by technology-enhanced learning as appropriate. You will be encouraged increasingly toward self-directed study over the course of your studies during this module, but clearly guided in the appropriate parameters and methodologies appropriate to professional practice and 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?

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to demonstrate:

1. Understanding of a range of core scientific principles, design and implement appropriate conservation methods based on them, manage technological and scientific data and introduction to artists' materials and supports.
2. Identify, and critically evaluate the role of research evidence and sources for the assignments.
3. Show technical and theoretical understanding of key processes, materials, and concepts and technical examination encountered in conservation practice.
4. An understanding how to manage the environment, collections and works of art.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities: (IPSA):

Upon successful completion of this module you will have:
1. Demonstrated tacit and procedural skills in selected core conservation treatments, whilst following the appropriate health and safety procedures.
2. Documented the condition and treatment of an artwork with accuracy, diligence and critical understanding.
3. Implemented a range of appropriate conservation procedures competently with the requisite skills and manage the studio environment appropriately.
4. Developed time and project management skills
5. Demonstrated the ability to coherently communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions (in verbal, visual and written form).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

Upon successful completion of this module you will have:
1. Demonstrated ethical awareness and critical reflection skills in relation to conservation practice encountered in the module

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment is composed of the following elements:
A) Project Documentation.
Word count 5000
75% weighting

B) Online Science Test 1 (60 min).
25% weighting

Combined they equate to 100% of the module mark.

Written work
All written assignments are submitted electronically

All assessment criteria and submission details are clearly defined on the eLP.

Electronic submission and feedback is provided for the assignments, according to the university guidelines.

Additional formative feedback is also provided throughout the module in both group and independent tutorial sessions, and in response to email enquiries.





Module abstract

This stimulating module which immediately immerses the student in the world of conservation, provides a professional approach to learning the core practical skills relevant to the materials, treatment, contextualisation and care of Works of Art on Paper or Easel Paintings. To promote active research-informed learning, the teaching is delivered through a combination of exclusive synchronous and non-synchronous online lectures and learning materials, live demonstrations and practical studio workshops and seminars, which will culminate in a significant body of work. Students also develop skills in reflective practice, problem-based learning, the scientific and technical study of works of art, together with in-depth examination and documentation techniques. Practical studio work is focused on both original art objects and historically recreated facsimiles , follows a logical development that parallels professional practice. Contact time with tutors is used to instruct and demonstrate complex practical treatment and helps contextualise the comprehensive theoretical material available online and discussed in interactive seminars. By introducing students to a research-rich learning environment, the module stimulates intellectual growth, academic skills, and critical curiosity, especially through the capacity for independent research-led learning.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 Years Full Time

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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