Courtauld Institute of Art

Course Introduction

The Courtauld is one of the leading centres in the world for education and research in wall painting conservation. Over the last 30 years, the Conservation of Wall Painting Department has had a major impact on the evolution of the discipline and the care of wall paintings globally. A considerable part of this impact derives from the Master’s programme that aims to ensure the improved care of wall paintings through providing appropriate education in their conservation.

Governed by the philosophy of minimal intervention and an interdisciplinary approach, the education seeks to impart a methodology that emphasises investigation and analysis of component materials and techniques, and diagnosis and control of the causes of deterioration. This aids design of a preventive, passive or remedial conservation strategy that is in line with accepted professional practice, and respects the integrity and significance of the object and its context.

The programme seeks to provide the student with a strong foundation in all aspects of wall painting conservation.

On completion of the programme the student will be able to:

' contribute to the assessment of the significance of the painting and its context;

' examine and assess the original and later materials of both the painting and its support and the implications these have for deterioration and intervention;

' identify relevant factors of deterioration and evaluate the likely effects on the painting of measures proposed for their control;

' contribute to the design and implementation of a programme of conservation which may include: preventative measures; passive measures; emergency and protective interventions; remedial treatments; and design and implement monitoring and maintenance programmes;

' produce full written, graphic and photographic documentation; participate in the development of the profession, for instance through the presentation and publication of papers.

On graduation, students join a long list of Courtauld alumni who have gone on to have a major impact in the conservation of wall paintings and other aspects of cultural heritage across the world by working for heritage organisations, universities and in private roles.

About eight students are accepted on each course and applicants from different academic and geographical backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Previous experience in the field is not required.

This programme accepts new students once every three years. The next intake will be for the 2019'20 academic year.

Start Date:


Duration & Attendance Qualification Tuition fees Fee type
3 years
Full Time

Qualifications required:

  • Candidates should normally: have at least an upper second honours degree, or an international equivalent recognised by the University of London in an appropriate subject in the humanities or sciences; be able to demonstrate manual dexterity; have normal colour vision; be competent in the English language to a recognised international standard. An appropriate subject is interpreted broadly, since diversity of prior education is highly desirable in this multidisciplinary field involving so much teamwork. Previous conservation experience is not required, though some understanding of the nature of wall painting conservation is desirable.
  • Additional criteria that would be taken into account are: evidence of commitment to the field which might include previous conservation experience; likely ability to work well in a team; knowledge of more than one language.
  • Selection is normally based on: an online application that includes a personal statement; written references; and an interview.
  • The interviewing procedure includes: a personal interview before a board; tests of manual dexterity and colour vision; a brief written test requiring comment on a variety of wall paintings, allowing assessment of how the candidate approaches the tasks of observation and analysis in an unfamiliar situation.
  • The Department is always glad to advise potential applicants on the types of preparatory work which they might most usefully undertake.
  • For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency – for details, please see the English Language Requirements page. If you hold a qualification from outside of the UK, please feel free to contact the Academic Registry; however, please be aware that our staff are unable to confirm whether you will be invited to interview, as candidates are judged on the strength of their applications as a whole.