The online resource for the historic environment

What is Understanding Conservation?

Understanding Conservation is an educational resource for all involved in, or interested in, conservation of the historic environment.

"The immediate objective of building conservation is to secure the protection of built heritage, in the long-term interest of society".
BS 7913: 2013. Section 0.1 " General".

These Units are based on the International Council on Monuments and Sites' (ICOMOS) Education and Training Guidelines and offer a framework for you to develop your conservation skills. They are not intended to provide answers but merely stimulus and routes to comprehension. They are intended to challenge your understanding of the skills necessary to act as a conservation practitioner.

Self-assessment questions will make you question your understanding and knowledge. You should be willing to recognise that, despite your experience gained through practice, there is a more complicated, challenging and philosophical knowledge base that requires constant updating.

Following the route of the Units will provide a personal challenge, requiring you to question your established values and perceptions. The course features five Units, which are:

  • Unit 1 Cultural Significance: This Unit focuses on informing the practical and pragmatic substance of conservation work by integrating a detailed consideration across 10 of the 14 ICOMOS guidelines. It aims to assist users on how to contextualise their thoughts and approach with a greater understanding of current conservation philosophy and ethics.
  • Unit 2 Aesthetic qualities and values: This Unit focuses on contextualising the wider visual conservation issues of place and performance in use within a philosophical understanding
  • Unit 3 Investigation, materials and technology: This Unit focuses on how to obtain relevant information across a wide range of technical parameters to aid effective decision making whilst acknowledging the substance of the asset.
  • Unit 4 Social and financial issues: This Unit enhances the understanding developed in the previous three Units and contextualises that with the recognition of reaching a satisfactory conclusion with all the pertinent parties.
  • Unit 5 Implementation and management of conservation works: This Unit restates the importance of operating with a philosophical and ethical understanding of conservation issues, and to advise effectively relevant current and future needs.