Introduction to Conservation-Restoration Sciences


This curricular unit aims at teatching the scientific method and the application of methodologies from the exact and natural sciences in the area of ​​conservation and restoration.

It is intended for the student to learn i) the principles of the scientific method, ii) the importance of  both experimental design and data analysis, and that she/he iii) understands the wide range of examination and analysis methodologies (photographic, elementary and molecular), with the aim of solving problems found on the cultural heritage. It is also the objective of this curricular unit that the student perceives different mechanical, physical and chemical properties of the artworks'''' and cultural heritage''''s '''' materials, and the importance of the various ranges of electromagnetic radiation in the analysis of their condition and understanding of degradation.

Finally, it is intended that the student develops the ability to communicate science (through two oral group presentations) concisely, on a subject of their choice, within the ones available by the professors. In these communications, it is intended for the students to acquire skills in scientific communication of a problem, understand the reasons behind the chosen methodology, and to be able to understand the obtained results, by communicating them to a general public.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Márcia Gomes Vilarigues, Susana Catarina Dias França de Sá


Weekly - 4

Total - 70

Teaching language





The bibliography will be provided during the classes.

Teaching method

The syllabus of this course is developed based on practical work and exercises that address the scientific method applied to the area of conservation and restoration. The student applies the acquired knowledge to a case study (directly in a heritage object and / or test samples), observing and analyzing its object by various instrumental techniques available in the department''''s laboratories.

There will also be room for discussion of scientific articles, as well as the presentation of materials by the professor.

Evaluation method

The evaluation includes a theoretical component (T) and a theoretical-practical component (TP).

The UC has frequency, i.e., a set of criteria to which the student has to meet to have approval in the UC. In this case, it is mandatory to deliver 3 of the 4 questionnaires and to make the final presentation for approval.

The grade of the theoretical component results from the accomplishment of 3 written tests. A minimum grade of 9.5 is required on the average of the three tests to have frequency to the course.

Theoretical (NT) = 0.33(1st test) + 0.33(2nd test) + 0.33(3rd test)

The grade of the practical component results from the completion of 5 evaluation elements: 1 presentation + 4 questionnaires

TheorPractical (NTP) = 0.50 (1 presentation) + 0.50 (4questionnaires)

Final Grade = 0.60NT + 0.40NTP

In any evaluation moment, students must also take into consideration the provisions of nº3 of article 10º of the ''Evaluation Rules of FCT NOVA'', “When fraud or plagiarism is proven in any of the evaluation elements of a UC, students directly involved are outright disapproved at UC, (…). ” 

Subject matter

This curricular unit covers the following topics:

  • What is Conservation Science - its importance for the Preservation of Heritage
  • The Conservator-Restorer and the Conservation Scientist
  • Mechanical properties of materials
  • Elasticity and strength of materials
  • Thermal properties of materials
  • Degradation of Materials
  • Interaction of radiation with matter
  • Introduction to Spectroscopies in the study of Cultural Heritage
  • Treatments and conservation measures assessment
  • Conservation Sustainability
  • Digital technologies and Conservation
  • The Conservation of Science
  • The role of conservation science in the preservation of the history of knowledge


Programs where the course is taught: