The specialisations that start in the academic year 2024-2025, are:
In 2025-2026 the other five specialisations are open for application:
The practical component for the nine conservation and restoration specialisations focuses on the understanding and preservation of artworks of cultural value, and related research. In the Technical Art History programme, you develop your insight into the composition and making of historical objects in their art historical context, and you develop technical skills in scientific analysis to support your research. Interdisciplinary projects are part of the programme in all specialisations. All students participate in presentations, lectures and symposia. The Master’s programme concludes with an individual thesis research.
The programme has a workload of 120 ECTS. For conservation specialisations the programme consist of: 36 ECTS of theory courses, 24 ECTS of courses in the development of conservation skills (lectures/workshops), 30 ECTS of object-based conservation practice training courses, and 18 ECTS thesis. The Technical Art History specialisation has a setup that differs from the schedule below.
The core courses within the conservation specialisations of the Master’s in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage teach you an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation, analysis and preservation of heritage objects. The science modules provide you with conservation-specific insights into the chemistry and physics of the materials that make up cultural heritage objects, the materials used in conservation treatments, the degradation processes, as well the instrumental techniques available for analysis.
In Skill Building Modules 1-4, you learn about conservation approaches and treatments (the theory lectures are given to all specialisations), and learn how to apply this knowledge in small groups during specialised workshops. Such workshops include the photography of objects, the application of different techniques for the removal of degraded surface layers, and if and how missing material and decoration can and/or should be replaced.
In the Conservation Principles and Practice Modules 1-5, which are taught to small groups of max. 6 students, you develop the observational and manual skills related to your particular conservation specialisation. Here, you learn to understand the material and historical context of objects, weigh the treatment options and formulate proposals that offer a holistic view on the conservation of heritage objects. This culminates in working on the conservation treatment of actual cultural heritage objects. As the theory of ethics forms an integral part of several module series, attention is given to the ethical foundations of conservation. The development of academic skills emphasizes research and technical analysis skills, good argumentation, and academic writing and presenting.
Students can choose an elective of 6 ECTS from the wide range of electives offered by the UvA and other Dutch universities. Electives contribute to the students' insights in cultural heritage, humanities or science and broaden their perspective. They are offered by other disciplines such as archaeology, computational science and philosophy. In addition, the programme offers students a choice of 6 ECTS programme-specific electives in their second year.
The programme for conservation students includes a long internship during the Advanced Professional Programme, which follows the Master’s in Conservation and Restoration. No internships are scheduled during the Master’s programme, although conservation projects often take you to heritage institutions. For students in Technical Art History, the Field work module is an opportunity to join a research institute for an on-site project.
You write a thesis of 18 ECTS in the second year of the Master’s. The research topic will be determined in consultation with your thesis supervisor (a conservation and restoration lecturer). Theses typically focus on a particular object or group of objects. This may involve object analysis, historical source research, reconstructions of heritage objects or techniques, or a more theoretical focus.
To choose a career in conservation means to embark upon a lifetime journey of discovery and learning.Prof Ella Hendriks
The entire programme for becoming a conservator consists of two parts, the two-year Master’s programme and the two-year Advanced Professional Programme. The programme for a technical art historian consists of the two-year Master’s programme only.
With the exception of graduates from the Technical Art History specialisation, students who have completed the Master’s degree in Conservation and Restoration can apply for the Advanced Professional Programme (APP). APP-admitted students receive a modest grant to cover the tuition fees and living costs.
Completion of the Master’s degree qualifies you as an academic scholar in the field of Technical Art History or in Conservation and Restoration. It does not qualify you to be a conservator. You qualify as a conservator by successfully completing the subsequent Advanced Professional Programme.
Every conservation specialisation has room for up to 6 students, technical art history for up to 8 students. This means that each year consists of 30-32 students maximum.
The number of candidates per specialisation varies. We always ask applicants to indicate a first and a second choice. If they are not selected for their first choice, we will enquire whether they wish to apply for their second choice.
To learn conservation and technical art history, you need to develop a broad range of research skills and practical skills. For this reason the programme has many contact hours. We aim to keep one weekday lecture-free, on other days you may have full-day practicals or a 2-hour lecture. This varies.
More information about the selection procedure can be found under Application & admission.
If you pass the science entry test, we consider your level to be sufficient. We experience that many students who had some difficulty passing their science exams in high school actually find the science taught in the programme less challenging because it is applied to real situations encountered in heritage care.