Conservation

To conserve means to comprehend and protect. In our BA in conservation, you will learn how to conserve art and cultural artefacts, from paintings and sculptures to graphics, video art and even buildings.

This degree programme:

  • is multidisciplinary in structure;

  • synthesises theory and practice;

  • combines aspects of science and the humanities;

  • requires artisanal dexterity;

  • prepares you for a sustainable, secure career.

Factsheet

  • Title/Degree Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Specialisations Architecture, furnishings and furniture
    Paintings and sculptures
    Graphics, written material and photography
    Modern materials and media
    Textiles (Abegg-Stiftung)
  • Mode of study Full-time (6 semesters), part-time possible
  • Start date 14.9.2020
    1.7.2020 (Textiles, Abegg-Stiftung)
  • Application deadline 16.3.2020
  • ECTS credits 180 ECTS credits + Additionals
  • Study language German
  • Location Bern, Riggisberg (Textiles, Abegg-Stiftung)
  • Department Bern University of the Arts
  • Next info event 15.1.2020

Structure + Content

The BA in conservation is unique in that you will have the first two years to learn about the various areas of specialisation in the field. Your exploration will not be limited to your home institution, but includes two further locations of the Swiss Conservation-Restoration Campus (Swiss CRC) in Lugano and Neuchâtel. In this way, all of Switzerland becomes your classroom.

-> Special requirements and regulations apply to the textile specialisation. You can find them on the Abegg-Stiftung’s website.

Portrait

Our programme is structured to provide two years of foundational training, followed by a third and final year to focus on your major. Our goal is to introduce you to practice-based conservation sciences and facilitate your entry into an area of specialisation. You then have the option to hone your specialist expertise in a two-year master’s degree programme .

Learning outcomes

Your foundational studies are split into seven thematic and methodological module groups. Lectures and exercises introduce basic theoretical knowledge and skills in the processes and methods of preventive conservation and documentation. You will also learn about the study of materials, art technology, cultural and art historical topics and ethical questions of the discipline. You can then employ your connected skills to develop appropriate preventive conservation measures.

Specialisations

All Swiss university programmes in conservation and restoration have pooled their resources at the Swiss CRC. Beyond HKB, three other locations offer further specialisations starting in your third year of study:

Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), Bern University of the Arts (HKB)

  • Architecture, furnishings and furniture
  • Paintings and sculptures
  • Graphics, written material and photography
  • Modern materials and media

Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg

  • Textiles (special prerequisites)

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO), Haute Ecole Arc Conservation-restauration, Neuchâtel

  • Archaeology and ethnographic objects
  • Clocks, scientific and technical objects

University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Italian Switzerland (SUPSI), Lugano

  • Mural painting, stone, plaster and architectural surfaces

Theoretical and practical content is grouped into various modules in your foundational studies:

  • Materials, techniques and alteration
  • Students’ activities
  • Communicating outcomes
  • Cultural values
  • Conservation workshops
  • Preventive conservation
  • Additional courses
  • Bachelor’s degree

Starting in your third year, module groups by major allow you to specialise in a branch of conservation-restoration. You will select your major in the final year of your bachelor’s programme and follow this path through your master’s. We currently offer four different majors at HKB. It is also possible to transfer to a different location in the Swiss CRC.

Mode of study + Duration

You can complete your BA over six semesters of full-time study, earning 180 ECTS credits (30 per semester). One ECTS credit equates to approximately 25–30 student working hours. You will have very limited opportunity to earn money on the side while studying full-time. Part-time studies are possible and can be customised to your needs every semester. You must earn at least 5 ECTS credits per semester.

Student mobility

Are you a Swiss student interested in living, working or studying in another country? Or do you want to spend a semester at another Swiss university? Or maybe you’re an overseas student who’d like to spend a semester at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Mobility opportunities offer unique and valuable experience. During your studies, you will have the opportunity to spend exchange semesters and experience work placements elsewhere in Switzerland or abroad.

Collaborations + Partners

HKB is affiliated with a number of universities in Switzerland and abroad and frequently collaborates with international partners on various projects. The university is also a member of several international networks.

Eligibility + Entry

For this BA programme, you must welcome the rigours of studying and exhibit an analytical and critical mind, manual and practical skills and a solid academic background.You must, of course, also demonstrate a special interest in art and cultural artefacts.

-> Special requirements and regulations apply to the textile specialisation. You can find them on the Abegg-Stiftung’s website.

Entry requirements

The number of places available on our programme is limited (‘numerus clausus’). We administer an entrance examination to review your aptitude for our programme. We look for motivation, stamina, resilience and independence in our students as well as a readiness to participate actively in university-level projects.

Academic requirements

To be admitted to the entrance exam, we generally require that you hold a baccalaureate or equivalent qualification (vocational baccalaureate, specialised baccalaureate, Abitur). If you can demonstrate special qualifications or pertinent long-term work experience, we may make an exception and waive the requirement of qualifying academic credentials. In such cases, you may submit a written request to apply ‘sur dossier’.

Knowledge + Abilities

  • solid observation skills
  • patience and a sense of responsibility
  • interest in interdisciplinary cooperation
  • openness to new things
  • interest in connections between science and the humanities
  • manual and practical dexterity
  • individual resilience and ability to work in teams
  • basic knowledge of art and art history, chemistry and physics

Language skills

The teaching and working language in this programme is German. You may compose written assignments in French, English and, in some cases, Italian.

Applying from abroad

Foreign nationals require valid travel documents recognised by the Swiss government. A visa is often required. Exchange students must also apply for a residency permit and purchase health insurance before their studies begin. Please research your specific entry requirements carefully. Further information can be found here.

We administer an aptitude assessment to ensure you’re suitable for our programme. It comprises three parts:

  • documentation (submitted with your application)
  • interview
  • exercise to demonstrate manual dexterity

Documentation

Your work documentation should provide a written and visual outline of your professional or private involvement in the field, ideally highlighting a concrete example of artistic practice or detailed handiwork. Central assessment criteria include the significance of your selection, care in preparation, attention to detail and the comprehensibility of your documentation. If you have experience in conservation or restoration work, please submit documentation that reflects guidelines standard to this field.

Interview

In the interview, which is more of an open conversation, we will discuss your motivations, past work experience and expectations for the programme. We are not looking to test your knowledge of the practice – instead, we wish to learn more about your commitment and communication skills.

Exercise to demonstrate manual dexterity

In the exercise, we will assess your technical handiwork skills, with an eye on precision, cleanliness and the conceptual rigour of manual work.
You will have four hours to complete a practical task and document your work in writing and images.

We do not require a specific preparatory work placement for this BA programme. When choosing any career, however, it makes sense to look into the professional field first. You could do a ‘trial’ or longer term internship to gain practical experience.
Need help finding an appropriate internship? Check these resources:

Qualification + Career prospects

This BA opens the door to a career in conservation and restoration. The three-year BA programme leads seamlessly to a two-year MA programme. Studying conservation at university level is now widely recognised and considered a safe and stable choice for the future.

Title + Degree

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in «Conservation»

At the end of the programme, you will graduate with the title ‘Bachelor of Arts in Conservation’. This degree qualifies you to work in various areas of conservation. It is also designed with the follow-on master’s programme in mind. It fulfils requirements for the Master of Arts in Conservation-Restoration.

Career prospects

Work in conservation and restoration ranges from technological documentation of pieces and caring for collections, archives and storage facilities to exhibitions consulting and project planning. You may also perform practical interventions to help preserve objects. Conservators and restorers work in state, church, communal and private institutions and for private individuals.
Depending on the minor you select, you may also be qualified to work in a range of other professional fields.

Practicalities + Application

Please note the dates and deadlines below, plus the documentation and information required.

-> Special requirements and regulations apply to the textile specialisation. You can find them on the Abegg-Stiftung’s website.

Start date: 14.9.2020
Application deadline: 16.3.2020
Date for aptitude test: 11./12.5.2020

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250

Matriculation**  

CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for overseas students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* The application fee can be paid by credit card or by deposit slip / paper invoice (+ CHF 10.– processing fee). There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications. The application is processed after payment has been received.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** ‘Overseas students’ refers to all citizens of foreign countries who were not official residents of Switzerland or Liechtenstein at the time they were admitted to the university programme.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.


Auditing a course

CHF 150 per course and semester, covering one weekly lecture hour. Only passive participation in classroom instruction is possible (selected lectures and seminars, no individual instruction).

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course. There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.).

HKB Fund for the Payment of Tuition Fees

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. The HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support in such cases. To apply for support, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Fill out the online application form in full and print it out
  2. Send the application online
  3. Submit the printed form to the secretariat for your degree programme

The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).


Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents.

Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator):

The websites ausbildungsbeiträge.ch, stipendium.ch and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

The City of Bern also offers students support under certain circumstances. For more information, see the City of Bern website.

The following foundations offer funding specifically to BFH students and students from other universities:

Contact

If you have any questions regarding scholarships and loans please contact Felix Seyer.

At Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH, we promote balance between study, work and family.

A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, the relevant documents can be found on the BFH Intranet. The fees are based on your income and are in line with the cantonal rates described in the Verordnung über die Angebote der sozialen Integration (Decree on Social Integration Offer ASIV) issued by the Canton of Bern. You can apply for a nursery place using the online form on the BFH Intranet. If you’re a new student or member of staff and don’t have access to the Intranet, please contact Corinne Badertscher (Tel. +41 (0)31 848 33 01, corinne.badertscher@bfh.ch). There is no legal entitlement to a nursery place.

Swiss students have to complete compulsory service while studying too. Make sure you start planning and coordinating your studies and compulsory service early.

We strongly encourage you to complete basic military training and your first block of civilian service before starting your studies. If you complete these activities during your studies, you may miss classes. As a result, the duration of your programme may increase.

General information on recruitment and civil service

Advice

You can get help with coordinating your studies and your compulsory service from HKB's Student Administration (+41 31 848 49 49).

Would you like to take a course at Bern University of the Arts? Then apply now. By applying online, you’ll be kept up-to-date at every stage of the process.

Online Application

According to your previous education, you should have the following documents available in electronic form (passport photo: JPG / remaining documents: PDF). No document should exceed 1 MB.

  • ID card or passport
  • Passport photo
  • A diploma qualifying you for university studies (such as Matura from a Gymnasium, "Berufsmaturität", "Fachmaturität", Abitur)
  • A CV in tabular form
  • A personal statement about your motivation for these studies and for your professional aspirations
  • Copies of all relevant report cards
  • Confirmation of your previous work experience (internships)

For foreigners, in addition:

  • Residence permit (if available)

If you were already matriculated at another university:

  • A confirmation of your exmatriculation
  • Your diploma and/or a transcript of records

If you do not yet have one or more of the required documents, please state why in the Comments section.

Submission Deadline for all documents including work documentation: 16.3.2020

Documentation

The work documentation has to be sent directly to the Division by post:

Bern University of the Arts
Division Conservation and Restoration
Fellerstrasse 11
CH-3027 Bern
kur@hkb.bfh.ch

The work documentation should demonstrate in word and image what professional or private work has been done, preferably with a concrete example from artisanal or artistic practice. Important criteria for assessment are independence, precision and accessibility of the documentation.

Who has professional experience with conservation and/or restoration, should submit documentation adhering to the usual standards in this field. If collective work is submitted, the personal input should be declared.

This documentation will be assessed as part of the aptitude test. There is no prescribed scale or structure. On the basis of the documentation, we hope to see if applicants are able to document complex processes in a way that is understandable for others.

Information

Do you have any administrative queries or questions about the course content? Would you like an individual, in-person advisory session? We are happy to help.

Student advisory service

We strongly advise you seek out our advisory service before beginning your studies, to allow us to assess your individual qualifications in good time. You may book an appointment with the secretariat of the division of Conservation and restoration.

Info events

Location + Facilities

Our first-rate facilities at HKB are supplemented by centres of excellence in the division of conservation and restoration. We view these as service centres, in which you may pursue project-based activities, such as research, alongside your studies.