KONS2010 – History and Theory of Conservation

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course begins with an introduction to ideas about the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage, starting in the late-medieval period, and through to the formation and development of professional conservation organisations and institutions. The role of science in conservation, historical perspectives of the debates around conservation questions, and the relationship between the two cultures of humanities and the natural sciences are covered, as are national and international agreements and laws in the support of the preservation of cultural heritage.

Throughout the course, fundamental principles within the conservation profession are clarified, with the aim to understand how these can be applied in the research and treatment of objects and collections. There is an emphasis on issues such as conflicts between fundamental principles and the ways that they have changed over time, both on a practical and theoretical level.

Lectures will address, among other topics: approaches to cleaning; restoration and reconstruction; notions of authenticity; codes of ethics; the ideal and reality of reversibility; the display of works of art and culturally significant objects; and opinions surrounding the ‘death’ of objects.

Learning outcome

On completion of this course, students will be expected to:

  • describe the historical and theoretical development of the conservation profession
  • discuss national and international conservation conventions and charters
  • evaluate the impact of conventions and charters on the profession
  • justify the role of science in conservation
  • defend the ethical framework of conservation
  • appreciate the rights of the different stakeholders within cultural heritage
  • argue for authenticity and differing values associated with cultural heritage
  • communicate arguments in written academic form


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

You are recommended to take KONS1000 – Introduction to conservation and collection care before KONS2010.

The course assumes a good proficiency in written and oral English.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with KONS4511 – Konserveringshistorie, prosjektbasert konservering


  • The teaching consists of lectures (24 hours) and seminars (10 hours). 
    - As part of the exam (portfolio), you are required to perform a group presentation in one of the seminars.
  • The course has 75% mandatory attendance (both seminars and lectures)
  • Absence from classes must be documented With f.ex a doctors note, and must be applied for: https://www.uio.no/english/studies/examinations/compulsory-activities/hf-oblig.html
  • The course uses Canvas as its learning environment for sharing teaching resources.


The examination is a portfolio that consists of:

  • Group work (25% of the total grade) 
    - The group work is based on a script that will be presented in the seminars. The presentation will take place after the lecturer has provided his/her feedback on the script. 
  • and an individual essay (75% of the total grade).

    The individual essay must be uploaded in Inspera, no printed version is needed. The file must be in pdf-format. The candidate number should be on every page as top text. You will find the candidate number in Studentweb.
    The students are responsible for their upload. Unreadable or unfinished documents will be graded thereafter.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

You may submit your response in Norwegian or English

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Fagspesifikke karakterbeskrivelser for konservering

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

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Facts about this course






Every other spring starting 2004


Every other spring starting 2004

Teaching language