Certificate in Archive Conservation FAQs

Please review our frequently asked questions below. Should you have any further queries, please contact Katie Proctor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


What does the course involve?

  • Modules cover conservation in books, maps, paper, seals, and parchment.
  • The course emphasises practical work assignments with the support of a qualified instructor both at your and their own place of work.
  • The theoretical aspects of both interventive and preventative conservation are covered through a series of residential lecture weeks.
  • The scheme is assessed by a written exam and an oral assessment.
  • Typically the course will take 2-3 years to complete.
  • The modules can also be used by professionals looking for updated techniques in a certain field or to refresh their learning.

Practical learning

A major element of the scheme is modular placements. Candidates benefit from 26 weeks of intensive one to one instruction. The instruction is broken into sessions of varying length covering each area of practical work a candidate is likely to come across in their place of work. Each Instructor is an expert in their field and is there to guide and mentor throughout.

Candidates must follow up each practical session with a report and notes related to the training. Some additional practical work may be assigned to be carried out within the candidates office.

Theoretical learning

  • A range of theoretical learning is also provided.
  • Introductory week covering many theoretical aspects of both interventive and preventive conservation.
  • Chemistry for Conservators - one week of formal training.
  • Lecture Series – a week of lectures specifically for candidates although open to all members of the ARA.
  • Assigned book list – for private study.

Who can I contact for help?

All candidates on the scheme will be supported by the Registrar who is available to help with queries throughout the course. Trainee meetings are held twice a year which provide a forum for candidates to meet and discuss progress.

How will I be assessed?

This is by written examination and an oral assessment. Candidates have to produce a 'conservation report' on a selection of documents presented at the exam. At the oral assessment, candidates present a portfolio of their work covering the full range of archive materials. Candidates will present and discuss their work, the merits of the methods they used and the alternatives which were considered. More generally, the role of conservation and issues affecting conservation will also be discussed.

Where will the training take place?

Most of the training will take place at the assigned instructor's place of work or your own. There will also be a series of residential courses which are held at venues announced nearer the time. The location of Registrar and Trainee meetings can be agreed.

How much will the course cost?

Registration for the Certificate of Conservation costs £1,500. This includes:

  • 26 weeks 1:1 tuition
  • Residential Introductory week
  • All examination costs

Additional costs include:

  • Chemistry in Conservation – weeks course including accommodation £650
  • Lecture Series – weeks course excluding accommodation £350
  • Training charge – recommended at £200/week
  • Accommodation costs during placements.

Can I take a single module from the Training Scheme?

Yes, these are called Single Conservation Units. 

Single Conservation Units (SCUs) are intended as a means of purchasing structured conservation training in an archive-specific subject and having further work undertaken in that subject assessed for competence.  The training modules are also intended as opportunities for personal professional development for experienced conservators, whether they lead to assessment for award of a unit or not. They should be particularly relevant to conservators working on short-term contracts involving material-specific programmes of work and for those with academic qualifications in related conservation fields who wish to widen their range of technical skill and knowledge. Given the developmental nature of conservation, and the periodic review of the Certificate Syllabus, they may be especially valuable as a means of updating conservators' skills and widening their range of knowledge and professional awareness.