Introducing: the MSc year ones, 2016/2017

Clare Lim

Another year, another batch of MSc year one students!


There are twelve of us this year. We come from Canada, Colombia, Singapore, the UK, and the United States. Our academic backgrounds range from archaeology and chemistry to fine art and biblical studies. For some of us, it hasn’t been so long since we were undergrads, while some of us have had several years of work experience in different fields. But what we are very happy to have in common is a great interest in conservation.


This year, we will be very busy with lectures, seminars, research projects, lab work, and extra projects.

During lectures, which are delivered by our course coordinators and guest lecturers, we learn about the materials that many objects are made of, and how they are usually conserved. In lab skills sessions, we learn more about specific conservation techniques.


James Hales demonstrating the application of epoxy resin as an adhesive by capillary action


Demonstration of a plaster fill on a ceramic object, using dental wax as a mould

We will spend much of our time in the lab working on interventive treatments. Each of us will treat at least ten objects during the year. We have the privilege of working on objects from various collections, including those of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. For each round of object allocations, we get to choose from a selected range of objects. (If more than one person wants the same object, the conflict is settled by very civilised rounds of rock-paper-scissors.) While each object allocated does mean adding another task to a growing list of deadlines, it’s still always exciting to have the opportunity to work on and learn about interesting objects.


An object allocation session



Hard at work in the lab

We have access to several analytical techniques at the UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA), including, but not limited to, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF). We use these analytical techniques in our research projects. They are also useful for helping us to find out more about our allocated objects, so that we can make informed conservation decisions.


An SEM training session with Dr Tom Gregory

Not everything takes place just within the walls of the IoA. We also get to go on trips outside the lab. Click here to read about our fieldwork on Hinemihi, a Maori meeting house, at Clandon Park!


A visit to the Stone conservation lab at the British Museum

These are just some of the things we will do in our first year in the MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums. Stay tuned for more, and keep an eye on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram too!


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