Course Overview

National Historic Ships UK are pleased to offer a specialist Historic Vessel Conservation course. 

This course is unique in addressing the specialist knowledge needed to understand a historic vessel project, ensuring that the conservation work being carried out on these craft follows recognised guidelines set down in our series Understanding Historic Vessels. During the course, you will gain a real understanding of different approaches, terminology, standards and outcomes.


min 1 year, max 3 years

Cost of whole course:


Cost of individual unit:


Structured, supportive, flexible learning

As a distance learning course, it allows for as flexible approach as possible. Delivered via the online platform Moodle, you will have access to:

  • course materials such as reading lists, learning films and case studies
  • discussion boards for students to share knowledge, skills and experience
  • webinars and guest publications
  • mentor lists
  • course announcements
  • online assessment and feedback
  • a record of your progress

On joining you will receive a copy of Conserving Historic Vessels which should be consulted in conjunction with the course materials online. Throughout your studies, specialists within the sector will be on hand as mentors to support you whenever required. We also provide written guidance on how to produce your coursework and test assignments.

Connect with our Shipshape Hubs -

We’ve partnered with organisations across the country to create a network of owners, businesses, skilled craftsman and heritage organisations all with an interest in Britain’s maritime heritage.  As students, you will have access to your local Shipshape Hub facilities including work benches and historic vessels to use as case studies during the course.

What will I learn?

The course comprises seven units which cover key decision making stages that should be considered when planning to conserve a historic vessel. 

Unit 1 — Historic Vessel Evaluation Is she worth conserving? This unit aims to teach students the processes required to implement an effective vessel assessment including how to assess a vessel for her historical significance and her current fabric condition.

Unit 2 — Stabilising a Historic Vessel as Risk of Decay Buying time! This unit aims to teach students the process required to stabilise a historic vessel and how to protect her condition.

Unit 3 — Finding Data Relating to Specific Historic Vessels What have you got? This unit aims to teach students how to identify the sources of information used to understand a historic vessel as well as identify the material used to construct her.

Unit 4 — Determining the Appropriate Route for Historic Vessel Conservation Decision time! This unit aims to help students understand the parameters associated with different conservation options including preservation, restoration, reconstruction and adaptation.

Unit 5 — Applying Conservation Plans to Historic Vessels Doing the work! This unit will help students develop a conservation plan to map the long term future of a historic vessel and understand the impact such a documentation will have. 

Unit 6 — Producing Replica Vessels Starting from scratch! This unit will teach students the concept of “replication” as a method of understanding historic vessels and how the construction of a replica should be planned and implemented.

Unit 7 — Recording and Deconstructing Historic Vessels Making a valuable record. This unit aims to teach students how to record historic vessels at risk of loss and how to assess when deconstruction is a suitable course of action.

How do I apply?

To apply for this course, complete our application form here. 

For more information please contact:  

Your application will then be assessed by the Historic Vessel Conservation Course Admissions Panel and we will notify you as soon as possible if you have been accepted on to the programme. 

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