West Dean College

West Dean College in West Sussex is internationally recognised for excellence in conservation and arts education. From short courses to diploma, foundation and Masters degrees.

Courses in metalwork range from making to conservation. You can expect a strong emphasis on developing good hand skills underpinned by theoretical study. Students on all programmes are encouraged to understand historic craft practice in order to place their work in a broader context.

The course is delivered in a purpose-designed workshop, with areas for photography, analysis (microscopes, metallurgy), chemicals, hot work (including casting, soldering, welding) and machining. You will also have access to on-site silversmiths and blacksmithing workshops.

You will learn the language, ethics and philosophy of your new profession alongside practical techniques and gain a keen understanding of estimating time needed for a piece of work in a professional, problem solving environment.

Theory and Practice - Practical work is supported by studying the history, conservation theory and material science of objects, enhanced by visiting lecturers and group visits to collections, studios and workshops.

Professional Practice  - You will help organise and undertake work for a range of clients and learn how to estimate and tender for work. Seminars, lectures and case studies all add to producing a competitive portfolio of treated objects and sought-after workplace skills.


COURSES AND ENTRY REQUIREMENTS (Awards validated by University of Sussex)



Monday 1 October 2018 – Monday 13 July 2020

Develop well-rounded metalworking skills and theory to enhance your employment prospects or allow you to continue your studies in higher education. Project skills encompass silversmithing through to blacksmithing, and become more challenging as the course progresses. You will have a dedicated bench space within the purpose-designed workshop. There are areas for hot work (including casting, soldering, welding), machining, photography, analysis (microscopes, metallurgy) and chemicals. You will also have access to on-site silversmithing and blacksmithing workshops.

Entry requirement: An interest in your chosen specialism (clocks, furniture or metalwork) and a good standard of general education to level 3, e.g. A levels, BTEC or Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, combined with a desire to attain the appropriate level of hand skills. The FdA will appeal to you if you are aiming for employment in the trade or further study. English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.0 or above.



Monday 1 October 2018 – Monday 15 July 2019

Develop making and treatment skills that will allow you to progress to an entry level position in the heritage sector or to Postgraduate Diploma/ MA Conservation Studies. You will develop hand skills through a series of practical exercises, and conservation treatments combined with science, to expand your critical thinking, research and writing skills.

Entry requirement: Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study e.g. HND, DipHE and a significant interest in conservation and metalwork. English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.



Monday 1 October 2018 – Monday 15 July 2019


Monday 15 July – Friday 20 September 2019

You will work on practical conservation projects including assessment and treatment of clients’ objects, developing your skills in the treatment of historic objects made from ferrous, base copper alloys, plated and precious metals. Project work is supported by research into historical context and materials analysis, further enhanced by a varied programme of visiting lecturers and visits, culminating in a research project and dissertation. Most students choose to undertake a work placement.

Entry requirement: To join the PGDip/MA programme you will need to have a good first degree in Conservation or a closely related field; or have completed a Graduate Diploma in a closely related subject (see above); or are able to demonstrate an equivalent proficiency in basic conservation science, academic skills (research, writing and critical analysis) and practical hand skills, including manual sensitivity and dexterity. Progression to the MA is subject to the successful completion of the first semester and the identification of an appropriate MA project. Students may exit the programme at the Postgraduate Diploma stage. English language: CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.




Maickel van Bellegem ACR 

Maickel van Bellegem ACR is a goldsmith and metals conservator who has worked both independently and in museums, notably the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum. He comments, 

"Having supervised students during their placements at the British Museum previously I'm very much looking forward to working with students building their expertise in both craft skills and conservation techniques."

He has worked on a range of metal objects for display, loans, storage and research purposes, and has published regularly. Topics of publications included historical manufacturing techniques such as patination of alloys in 19th century Burmese lime boxes and their conservation, authentication, as well as developing conservation treatments.

Maickel is an accredited member of Institute of Conservation, a member of the International Council of Museums, the Historical Metallurgy Society, and the Nautical Archaeological Society.




Alumni have had work placements or gone on to work at The British Museum, The Royal Armouries, National Maritime Museum, National Museum of Scotland, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Gold Museum Colombia, and at UK businesses including Plowden & Smith Ltd, Hall Conservation Ltd and Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd. Others have become independent conservators.




Open Day 

Friday 7th December 2018

You are invited to come and explore the workshops and studios, student accommodation, take a tour with students, explore your study options and find out about funding.

Find out more:


What's On





West Dean College of Arts and Conservation: www.westdean.org.uk

Conservation of Metalwork Degrees and Diplomas: www.westdean.org.uk/study/degrees-and-diplomas/courses

Metalworking and Silversmithing Short Courses: www.westdean.org.uk/study/short-courses/courses

Jewellery and Enamelling Short Courses: www.westdean.org.uk/study/short-course/courses

Facebook: www.facebook.com/westdeancollege

Twitter: www.twitter.com/westdeancollege

Instagram: westdeancollege

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/westdeancollege

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/school/5376755

comments powered by Disqus