Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings

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Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings

Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings


The study of the conservation of easel paintings is a 3-year full-time course and leads to the qualification of a postgraduate diploma. Its interdisciplinary nature brings together art history, fine arts and natural sciences, and applicants usually have a BA or equivalent degree in any of these subjects. The student body is international, with a yearly intake limited to 5, which makes the teacher-student ratio exceptionally high. The competitive nature of the course leads to an equally exceptionally high degree of employment upon graduation, in both the most reputable institutions and private conservation studios in the world, such as the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Getty, the National Trust, and the Royal Collection.


In the first year, the emphasis is on the development of visual, practical and intellectual skills. Seminars cover the following topics: artists’ materials and techniques including replica-making; the deterioration of paintings and preventative conservation; documentation and technical examination; methods and materials of painting conservation; research and critical thinking skills. Students with a BA in art history or the fine arts take chemistry classes, while students with a degree in natural science attend art history classes. Time is divided equally between the classroom and studio.

The second year centres on developing frameworks for decision-making. Teaching is primarily in the studio, working on paintings on canvas or panels from all periods. Students apply problem-solving skills grounded in theoretical understanding and art historical research to specific treatments. Topics from the first year are studied in greater depth, such as the technical analysis of artists’ materials; painting techniques of modern and contemporary painters; structural treatments; and approaches to cleaning. The second year also includes visits to conservation studios and scientific departments as well as the opportunity to participate in “Painting Pairs”, where students collaborate with art history students on the research of a particular painting.

In the first term of the third year, students complete a 10.000 word-long diploma thesis. The research projects often achieve such high standards that they are published or presented at international conferences. In addition, students gain such command of the theoretical and technical frameworks of conservation that they are now able to apply their knowledge and skills independently. Second- and third-year students also go on study trips abroad to centres of excellence and benefit both from the active research culture in the department itself and at the Courtauld Institute at large.

On graduating, students will be:

+ Able to address the complexity of easel painting conservation.

+ Knowledgeable about artists’ materials and techniques from the medieval to the contemporary period.

+ Be proficient in communicating achievements through presentations.

+ Highly employable practitioners in painting conservation and conservation science.

We will be holding our Open Days in June and October 2019 – register here.

Find out more about the department’s research here.

Bachelor’s Degree – Students will normally have achieved a good 2.1, considered to be an overall average 65% or above.

We accept overseas qualifications equivalent to a 2.1 in a UK first degree (e.g. US applicants should have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above).

If you hold a qualification from outside of the UK, please feel free to contact the Academic Registry; however, please be aware that our staff are unable to confirm whether you will be invited to interview, as candidates are judged on the strength of their applications as a whole.



All applicants are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page.


2019/20 Fees Available Here

Fees are subject to change each academic year. Fee info, including what qualifies as home, EU, and overseas fees, can be found here.

Financial support for your studies

Find information about loans, grants, and bursaries to support you during your studies at The Courtauld here.

Apply for this course

Apply for this course or download a prospectus for more information.

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