Taught course

Conservation of Easel Paintings

University of Cambridge · Department of History of Art

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a subject related to the field of painting conservation, eg fine arts, history of art or science. Degrees in other fields will, however, also be considered.

Ideally, candidates will be able to demonstrate a blend of manual skills, basic science and art history.

Months of entry


Course content

The Diploma in the Conservation of Easel Paintings provides training in the practical, theoretical, analytical and photographic aspects of the conservation and restoration of easel paintings.

The course is designed for students who wish to go on to undertake an internship in a conservation department in Britain or abroad, in order to gain the necessary additional experience of different approaches to conservation problems, prior to pursuing a career as a painting conservator.

The primary objective of the course is to introduce students from a variety of academic backgrounds, in the arts and sciences, to as many aspects of conservation treatment as possible.

The course aims to:

  • provide high-calibre students with training in practical skills and to offer excellent specialist supervision of studio work and applied research;
  • educate painting conservators to the highest standard and to provide them with the means to contribute to research in the field of easel paintings conservation and preventive conservation.
  • provide a stimulating environment in which students can reach their full intellectual potential; and
  • help students develop a wide range of intellectual abilities and skills which will enable them to make a significant contribution to research and communication of their work in conservation.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course, the University expects students to have acquired the following skills.

Practical skills

to be competent to assess the condition of a work of art;

  • to undertake the conservation and restoration of easel paintings;
  • to assess and suggest means to provide suitable environmental conditions for paintings;
  • to carry out the technical examination of paintings using a range of techniques and/or interpret analytical results (eg infrared reflectography, UV photography, X-radiography, analysis of cross-sections);
  • to undertake in-situ work on paintings in various collections;
  • to be able to communicate with internal and external colleagues, experts in related fields and clients.

Intellectual skills

  • to make ethical and empathetic decisions regarding a painting;
  • intellectual mastery of the conservation theory;
  • the ability to carry out research independently;
  • knowledge of the primary and secondary sources;
  • the ability to assess/interpret scientific data;
  • the ability to make measured critical judgements;
  • the ability to organise material and present a coherent argument.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • Diploma
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details