Accessibility statement

Practical Skills: Object Conservation - ARC00066I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Ashley Lingle
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This course provides a framework for remedial conservation techniques for archaeological materials. During the course, students will have the opportunity to engage with conservation theory, and familiarise themselves with treatment procedures that are used to reveal the shape, history, and technology of artefacts. Students learn how to apply selected investigative cleaning techniques through structured practical exercises. Documentation and reporting of this work is used to assess student performance.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 1)


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The Practical Skills modules seek to introduce you to a range of skills in various diverse areas of archaeological practice and are designed to allow you to gain experience in a 'hands-on' manner.

This specific modules aims to:

  • Provide students with an understanding of current conservation approaches to artefact preservation
  • Introduce students to different techniques for cleaning artefacts, as well as preparing them for study and storage
  • Provide an understanding of the principles and practice of artefact conservation

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • Deploy accurately the practical abilities required to carry out investigative cleaning tasks under supervision.
  • Synthesise observations and research to make decisions about conservation processes.
  • Critically evaluate the condition of archaeological materials.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to maintain records of conservation measures to professional standards
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the wider contexts in which conservation is carried out, and the implications of context for practice and treatment options.

Module content

Each seminar-workshop introduces students to the practicalities of preserving archaeological materials for a particular material type or research strategy. First students will be introduced to conservation theory and the ethics of cleaning and stabilising artefacts. They will be given a theoretical overview of how materials deteriorate during the depositional process and after excavation. Students will learn the basics of visual examination, documenting artefact condition and conservation interventions. Students will be asked to undertake a series of practical exercises where their ability to understand and apply conservation theory will be developed using a combination of simulated and real archaeological artefacts. Through these exercises students will learn how to identify conservation issues and options for preservation. Examples are drawn from emblematic types of archaeological finds.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Matero F.G. (2008) Heritage, conservation, and archaeology: an introduction. Boston, MA: Archaeological Institute of America,

Pedelì, C. and Pulga, S. (2013) Conservation Practices on Archaeological Excavations: Principles and Methods. Translated by Erik Risser. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute.

Sease, C. (1992) A Conservation Manual for the Field Archaeologist. Archaeological Research Tools, vol. 4. Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of California

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.