MSocSci Tangible Heritage Conservation

Theoretical and practical focus of the course

This programme is directed at a general education in preventive conservation/preservation and general collections-based management of tangible heritage conservation resources, with a view to specialize in the management of THC, preservation of THC or conservation of THC. 

This program is designed to be conducted full-time over the course of two years as a lectured masters, with an internship, self-study and preparation of a mini dissertation in the second year. The theory and practicals for the programme is taught in modules THC 801, THC 802, THC 803 and THC 804 over the course of the first year. Practice forms an integral part of interventive conservation to apply theoretical knowledge on treatment evaluation and development, decision-making and to hone bench skills. Students will be provided with access to the conservation lab and equipment in order to conduct classes; the required safety equipment such as gloves and dustcoats; and the opportunity to work with museum objects and trained in the appropriate handling procedures.

 

The first year 

THC 801 Conservation principles and strategies

This introductory module reviews the significance, value and use of cultural heritage, as well as the roles and responsibilities of its custodians within relevant professional, ethical and legislative frameworks. This module has both theoretical and practical components where preservation and collections care principles and strategies will be examined, practised, reviewed, and discussed for appropriate decision-making. In addition, the module will consider the shifts, conflicts and tensions in the museum and will critically examine the frictions between the global and the local in an attempt to reimagine the institution in the contemporary moment.

THC 802 Science fundamentals for conservation

An introductory chemistry module specifically tailored at enabling students with no previous science background to gain a greater insight into the chemical processes present in the practices and techniques used in conservation. Module content focuses on major conservation issues including material types, environment, cleaning and deterioration.

THC 803 Research methods and methodology in conservation

This module focuses on the research involved in conservation, aspects of collections-based research including documentation of artefacts, photography, the preparation of research projects, writing project proposals and academic writing for publication. This module has both theoretical and practical components where students will examine, document and carry out analyses on a variety of museum objects.

THC 804 Materials, mechanisms of decay and stabilisation of artefacts

This module explores the physical, mechanical and chemical properties of organic, inorganic and synthetic base materials. It explores the technology and manufacturing processes involved in creating or assembling a variety of heritage objects. Each material type is explored in dedicated block sessions where individual objects are discussed according to material types and properties, potential risks and weaknesses identified, and appropriate storage, exhibition and handling guidelines examined. This module has both theoretical and practical components where students will learn to differentiate between material types, isolating different component parts of composite objects and learning about examination, documentation and record keeping in conservation.

 

The final year

THC 800 Mini dissertation

A mini-dissertation of 20 000 tot 30 000 words on an approved conservation-based topic.

THC 805 Collections-based training/internship

Practice forms an integral part of interventive conservation to apply theoretical knowledge on treatment evaluation and development, decision-making and to hone bench skills. This is a compulsory module for training in interventive/remedial conservation in the field of specialisation of the students choosing, dependant on the availability of the particular field of specialisation available at the University. Training is carried ou under supervision within a museum collection or in private practice with and approved conservator-restorer and contains the practical component of the mini-dissertation.

Published by Salomé Le Roux

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