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Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage

Study programme

In this Master’s you will learn to assess the condition of objects of cultural value and identify possible causes of decay, investigate the way in which they are manufactured, and become familiar with the most important techniques for preserving objects of cultural value for the future. Lecturers are strongly linked to practice. (Inter)national experts complement the programme.

The programme has a workload of 120 ECTS: 66 ECTS object-focused practical training; 36 ECTS theory courses; and 18 ECTS thesis

The practical component for the nine conservation and restoration specialisations focuses on the preservation of objects of cultural value, including relating research. In the Technical Art History programme, you develop your technical skills in scientific analysis, both during the modules and in a fieldwork project. Interdisciplinary projects can be part of the programme. You will also participate in presentations, lectures and symposia. The Master’s programme concludes with an individual thesis research project.

  • Science 1
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  • Imaging and Documentation
  • Object Based Practical 1
  • Science 2
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  • Art Technological Source Research
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  • Object Based Practical 2
  • Science 3
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  • Preventive Conservation: risk assessment
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  • Tutoring and Study Guidance
  • Object Based Practical 3
  • Object Based Practical 4
  • Free-choice electives
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  • Master's Thesis
  • Tutoring and Study Guidance
UvA Course Catalogue: Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage
  • Core courses

    Courses within the Master’s in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage teach you an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation, analysis and preservation of heritage objects. Object analysis focuses on assessing technical and material characteristics, values, phenomena of deterioration and documentation. Academic skill development emphasizes research and technical analysis skills, academic writing and presenting. In practicals you develop the observational and manual skills related to your particular (conservation) specialisation, learn to weigh treatment options and formulate a proposal that offers a holistic view on the conservation of heritage objects.

  • Electives

    Students can choose an elective of 6 ECTS  (2 x 6 ECTS for Technical Art History) from the wide range of electives offered by the UvA and other Dutch universities. Electives contribute to the student’s insights in cultural heritage, humanities or science, broaden their perspectives and are usually offered by other disciplines such as archeology, computational science and philosophy.

  • Internship

    The programme for conservation students includes a long internship during the Advanced Professional Programme that follows the Master’s in Conservation and Restoration. No mandatory internships are scheduled during the Master’s, however conservation projects often take you to heritage institutions. In the Field work module that is part of the Master’s programme for Technical Art History students, you work in Dutch museums or heritage institutions.

  • Thesis

    You write a thesis of 18 ECTS in the second year of the Master’s. The research topic will be determined in consultation with the thesis supervisor. Theses typically focus on a particular object or group of objects. They may involve object analysis, historical source research, reconstructions of heritage objects or techniques, or they may have a more theoretical focus.

    Master's theses by Conservation and Restoration graduates from previous years


The Master's in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage currently comprises ten specialisations:

Each year, five specialisations will be open for application. The specialisations that start in the academic year 2021-2022, are: Contemporary Art; Glass and Ceramics; Paintings; Textiles; and Technical Art History.

Whilst these specialisations offer their first-year courses, the specialisations that started in the previous academic year (2020-2021), and which will consequently start again in 2022-2023, offer their second-year courses. Those specialisations are: Book and Paper; Historic Interiors; Metals; Photography; Wood and Furniture.

Master’s programme: made up of three parts

The entire programme for becoming a conservator-restorer consists of three parts:

  • A Bachelor’s degree certificate in humanities or science is required for entering the Master’s programme. Students enrolled in a Bachelor’s programme can follow a minor in Conservation and Restoration (30 ECTS). Completing the minor is a pro, but not mandatory. Students with a Bachelor’s degree in applied arts are not directly eligible and are advised to consult a study adviser to discuss their options;
  • The two-year Master's programme;
  • A two-year Advanced Professional Programme (for all specialisations except Technical Art History).

Advanced Professional Programme

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. Admitted students will receive a modest grant  to cover the tuition fees and living costs.

  • This postgraduate track is largely taught at a training studio programme, either in the Atelier Building or in external studio’s. It consists of  closely supervised practical work in which the trainee conservator-restorer takes part in conservation and research projects, working with increasing independence.
  • Currently, only students who have completed the Master’s in Conservation and Restoration at the University of Amsterdam can be admitted to the Advanced Professional Programme.
  • Throughout the first year of the Advanced Professional Programme there are also lectures, gatherings and presentations to further develop students’ practical and academic skills and provide them with advanced knowledge on relevant topics (analytical techniques, specialist conservation skills, business management, conservation ethics, writing scientific papers). Some of these are taught for the entire year group, others within the specialisms. In the second year, a three-month independent research project is conducted. An eight-month internship period is also part of the second year.
  • Upon completion of the Advanced Professional Programme, you will have satisfied the international criteria for conservator-restorers and will be able to establish yourself as an independent conservator-restorer in one of the disciplines taught at the UvA:  Book and Paper; Contemporary Art; Glass and Ceramics; Historic Interiors; Metals; Paintings; Photography; Textiles; Wood and Furniture.


Completion of the Master’s degree qualifies you as an academic scholar in the field of Technical Art History or in Conservation and Restoration, not as a conservator. You qualify as a conservator only when you successfully complete the subsequent Advanced Professional Programme.