Postgraduate taught 

Textile Conservation MPhil

Deconstructing the Artefact HISTART5097

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The course aims to give students an understanding of the manufacture, characteristics, ageing and degradation of other materials used in the production of textiles and associated objects, such as leather, paint and metals, so that students gain an awareness of the problems concerning preservation of these materials and how their present appearance should be interpreted.

Students will also be introduced to the instrumental analytical techniques used in the identification and interpretation of textiles and other historic artefacts through guest lectures by specialists from conservation, conservation science and technical art history, and visits to conservation studios and scientific labs.


2 hours per week plus visits to conservation studios and scientific labs

Excluded Courses





Object record 75%. This assessment will appraise technical research skills. Students will examine a mixed material object and submit a detailed report (3,500-4,000 words) of its material composition, including historical context, manufacture and evidence from basic scientific analysis.

Grant application sample 25%. This exercise takes the form of an application for funding for appropriate scientific analysis of a textile or related object, a vital professional skill. (750-1,000 words)

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Broaden your knowledge of the chemical and physical properties of materials encountered in mixed material textile artefacts

■ Introduce conservation approaches to non-textile materials to inform interventive and preventive conservation decisions for mixed material textile collections

■ Introduce a range of analytical instruments used to identify materials

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify materials in a mixed material historical object through physical appearance, historical context and material changes caused by ageing and degradation

■ Critically evaluate and apply historical and scientific information, resources and methodologies to identify and provenance historical materials associated with textiles

■ Demonstrate theoretical understanding of instrumental analytical techniques to research mixed material textiles, including what techniques are available, how they work and their usefulness and limitations

■ Formulate coherent and viable research questions about historical textile objects to be able to engage in research collaboration and dialogue with scientists

■ Use oral and written communication skills, including:

■ Selecting and presenting information in a clear and coherent manner

■ Writing in an appropriate style for a curator or a funding body

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.