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Master of Cultural Material Conservation

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  • Objectives
    Students who complete the Master of Cultural Material Conservation will: * develop a sound knowledge and understanding of cultural material conservation principles, methodologies and best practice standards; * gain an understanding of the role of cultural material in the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations; * be equipped to contribute to national and international debates, protocols and conventions relevant to cultural material conservation; * be informed advocates for cultural material conservation and play a leadership role within the sector, actively engaging in critical policy issues; * develop an appreciation of cultural diversity, community sensitivities and a changing social context to the scientific and historical paradigms that exist within the cultural heritage and conservation sectors; * develop critical and analytical skills and methods, and a cross disciplinary understanding and approach, to the identification and resolution of conservation issues.In addition to the above, graduates will attain specific professional skills so that when solving conservation problems or applying preventive conservation measures they will: * be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of conservation principles, ethics and methods; * have a high level of knowledge of the history, technology and deterioration processes of the material within their major specialisation; * be able to accurately identify the causes of conservation problems; * competently and independently develop, communicate and apply conservation methodologies that are scientifically and technically sound, ethical, and consistent with cultural contexts and community needs; * have a strongly developed sense of professional and ethical responsibility for cultural heritage and an awareness of the moral and legal responsibilities of professional practice.
  • Practical experience
    There is an internship the second year of this program.
  • Entry requirements
    The program is aimed at students who wish to undertake specialist training in conservation of cultural material for professional qualification purposes. The course does not necessarily lead to higher degree study, however high achieving students may qualify for entry to research higher degrees.
  • Academic Title
    Master of Cultural Material Conservation
  • Course description
    Core Subject Summaries

    Year 1 Semester 1
    108-444 Conservation Professional Practices
    This subject introduces students to the ethical issues, cultural considerations, policy framework and the economic environment that inform conservation practice.

    108-451 Technical Examination and Documentation
    Areas of study in this subject include visual examination using normal and ultraviolet light, photography, infrared reflectography, stereomicroscopy and x-radiography. Sampling methods and microscopic identification of pigments, fibres and other materials are studied.

    108-446 Introduction To Materials and Techniques
    The subject examines the history and manufacture of traditional and modern materials, their properties and behaviour, and the processes of their chemical and physical deterioration.

    108-449 Conservation Materials Chemistry
    The subject deals with the physical- organic chemistry of cultural heritage items and of products and formulations used in all aspects of conservation. It examines the relationship between the chemical structure, properties, and uses of solvents, detergents, adhesives, consolidants, paints, plastics, fibres, stabilisers, emulsifiers and their interaction with cultural heritage objects. Topics including surface colloid chemistry, organic chemistry, polymer science, deterioration and oxidative ageing are covered.

    Year 1 Semester 2
    108-448 Conservation Assessment And Treatment 1
    This subject introduces the current philosophy, ethics, materials, procedures and techniques that are used in the practical conservation of artefacts. Students develop and carry out minor treatment programs on selected objects.

    108-447 Preventive Conservation
    This subject examines the physical and environmental causes of deterioration of cultural material, and how these can be mitigated. Areas of study include biological attack, chemical pollutants, light exposure, fluctuations and extremes of relative humidity and temperature, physical stresses, vandalism, natural and human caused disasters.

    108-445 Respect
    In this subject students explore issues relating to the preservation of culture. Students engage with individual guest lecturers who have extraordinary or senior cultural expertise and knowledge, and who lead students through the complexity of issues relating to context, disruption, authenticity, legal standing, development, reinvention, identity and minority status. Of particular focus are cultures that relate to the Australian, Asian and the Pacific Nations.

    108-450 Analytical Chemistry In Conservation
    The subject builds upon the students' knowledge gained in 100-449 Conservation Materials Chemistry. It covers the use of analytical techniques relevant to the conservation of cultural heritage, including microchemical testing, mass spectrometry, atomic absorption and emission spectroscopy. Students learn to devise appropriate testing regimes, prepare samples, undertake analysis and manage analytical quality.

    Year 2 Semester 1
    108-540 Materials And Techniques Of Artefacts
    This subject builds upon the subject 100-446 Introduction to Materials and Techniques. Students focus on their chosen field of specialisation, allowing a more detailed study of the history and manufacture of traditional and modern materials, their properties and behaviour, and more complex chemical and physical deterioration processes.

    108-541 Conservation Assessment And Treatment 2
    This double unit subject builds on the subject 100-448 Conservation Assessment and Treatment 1. Students undertake more complex assessment, documentation and conservation treatment of artefacts in their field of specialisation.

    Year 2 Semester 2
    108-543 Conservation Minor Thesis
    The student proposes an original research topic that contributes to existing bodies of conservation knowledge. The student then initiates and conducts an involved program of primary research requiring interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. With minimal direction from an academic supervisor, the student conducts the research, and produces a critical research report.

    108-542 Conservation Internship
    In this subject students arrange and undertake a placement in a Conservation Department or practice, which deals directly in the conservation of materials of their specialisation. They work under the guidance of a senior conservator within the work place. Students carry out a set program of conservation research and/or treatment involving complex decision-making and the application of high-level skills. During the internship an academic supervisor is available for consultation and advice.

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