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Masters Degrees (Bioarchaeology)

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Study at the frontiers of archaeological science. Like a handful of comparable courses, the York MSc in Bioarchaeology provides training in the advanced osteoarchaeological analysis of skeletal remains. Read more
Study at the frontiers of archaeological science

Why choose this course?

Like a handful of comparable courses, the York MSc in Bioarchaeology provides training in the advanced osteoarchaeological analysis of skeletal remains. Uniquely, however, it is the only course in the UK to combine this discipline with the molecular analysis of human remains. Nowhere else can you immerse yourself in the study of stable isotopes, lipid residue analysis, palaeoproteomics and ancient DNA – and play an active role in the development of new techniques in this constantly evolving branch of archaeology. In 2014, seven of the top 100 discoveries in science were in archaeology, and BioArCh staff were involved in three of these.
-Advanced training in human osteoarchaeology, delivered by the UK’s leading practitioners
-Study ancient biomolecules in world-class facilities at the BioArch centre and Department of Biology
-Unique opportunity to combine bioarchaeology with complementary subjects and tailor a course to suit your interests
-Access an incredible range of in-house analytical equipment
-Take part in cutting-edge science and build essential practical skills
-Work alongside leading researchers and academics in a diverse range of specialisms
-Work on diverse material that is often ‘fresh out of the ground’ and make valuable contributions to live projects Receive career and research guidance from staff with significant experience in the sector and a track record of successfully placing PhD students

What does the course cover?

Through a combination of academic studies, practical training and dissertation research, this course provides a thorough grounding in all aspects of bioarchaeology theory, investigation and practice.

Uniquely, you can combine bioarchaeology with a range of subjects and tailor your degree to your own interests. You could adopt a ‘period’ focus, for example, to specialise in the bioarchaeology of the Medieval, Viking, Mesolithic or early prehistoric periods. You could combine human bioarchaeology with zooarchaeology and orientate your course towards more advanced studies of bone function and anatomy. Or you could focus on skills such as GIS modelling and field archaeology.

Who is it for?

This course is designed for students with a passionate interest in the future of archaeology, who want to work at the frontiers of archaeological science. The degree is primarily aimed at those whose previous experience is in archaeology, anthropology, biology or related fields, but we do accept students from diverse backgrounds. The common factor among our student intake is a keen interest in science and in human remains at a biomolecular or bone level.

What can it lead to?

Molecular analysis is used increasingly widely in archaeology, but the range of osteological and molecular skills offered by the course provide valuable training and expertise for a wide range of careers and further study.

Many students go on to take PhDs at York and other institutions around the world. Others pursue a wide range of professional careers, from osteoarchaeology and environmental archaeology to the medical humanities and laboratory technician work.

Careers

By the end of the MSc Bioarchaeology course you will be able to:
-Identify and record human bone assemblages
-Age, sex and assess pathologies from human bones
-Understand advanced methods for analysing bone tissues, including biomolecular methods
-Apply chemical and biomolecular methods to skeletal material
-Understand the processes of decay and diagenesis of bone tissue
-Critically evaluate published research and datasets
-Orally present knowledge and concepts
-Work effectively within a laboratory environment
-Plan, design and undertake a piece of independent research

These skills and techniques are deployed widely in the field of archaeological research and exploration, but they are also valuable for a wide range of careers and further studies.

Many our MSc Bioarchaeology postgraduates go on to further research in bioarchaeological and environmental fields. The BioArch department has a successful track record of placing students on PhD courses in York and institutions worldwide.

Here’s a selection of the career and research destinations of some of our recent students: US graduate school programmes
-Archaeological field units
-Environmental archaeology
-Professional archaeologists – field and laboratory based
-Laboratory technicians
-Demonstrators
-University/research technicians
-Academia
-On-site osteoarchaeologists
-Medical humanities

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Subject to validation. Summary. Read more

Subject to validation

Summary

The MSc Archaeology with specialist pathways in Bioarchaeology, Palaeoanthropology and Higher Archaeological Practicehas a strongly vocational emphasis, addressing skills shortages and preparing students for work in the booming archaeological and heritage sector, as well as subsequent PhD research. Students will engage with hands-on, real-world archaeological materials and situations, including opportunities to collaborate with a range of stakeholders and partners in the archaeological sector through a professional placement.

Students can choose to focus on the development of skills and specialisms in one of the pathways – Bioarchaeology, Paleoanthropology or Higher Archaeological Practice - or alternatively can acquire a broad range of skills across these specialisms. Programme content will vary depending on the specialism that students follow. Each specialism is consolidated by means of compulsory modules that offer firm foundations in a student’s chosen area. This is complemented by diverse optional modules that provide the flexibility to build a bespoke skill-set appropriate to a student’s chosen career path. Engagement with partners in the commercial sector will allow students to experience a range of approaches to archaeological practice and their articulation with research-based approaches.

The programme is embedded within Southampton Archaeology’s distinctive research culture, with world-class expertise, diverse practice, and contacts with the commercial environment and the heritage sector.

Modules

Compulsory modules:

  • MSc Archaeology (Bioarchaeology): Analysis of Archaeological Faunal Remains, Bioarchaeology of Human Remains.
  • MSc Archaeology (Higher Archaeological Practice): Professional Practice, Professional Placement in the Archaeological and Heritage Sector.
  • MSc Archaeology (Paleoanthropology): Contexts for Human Origins Research, The Analysis and Interpretation of Palaeolithic Stone Tools.

Typical optional modules for specialist pathways (indicative–list):

  • MSc Archaeology (Bioarchaeology): Osteoarchaeology and Paleopathology in Context, Themes in Bioarchaeology, Molecular Archaeology, Contexts for Human Origins Research, Ecology of Human Evolution, Digital Imaging Methods for Archaeologists, Professional Practice, Professional Placement in the Archaeological and Heritage Sector.
  • MSc Archaeology (Higher Archaeological Practice): Cultural Heritage Within Environmental Impact Assessment, The Analysis and Interpretation of Palaeolithic Stone Tools, Archaeological Ceramics and Stone, Analysis of Archaeological Faunal Remains, Bioarchaeology of Human Remains, Applied Maritime Archaeology, Terrestrial Survey, GIS for Archaeology, Maritime Museums and Heritage Management.
  • MSc Archaeology (Paleoanthropology): Ecology of Human Evolution, Analysis of Archaeological Faunal Remains, Bioarchaeology of Human Remains, Osteoarchaeology and Paleopathology in Context, Materials Technology and Social Life. Molecular Archaeology, Professional Practice, Professiona Placement in the Archaeological and Heritage Sector.

For more information visit the University of Southampton website



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Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing field which combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences to study key topics such as past health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and environmental impacts. Read more
Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing field which combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences to study key topics such as past health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and environmental impacts.

The MSc in Bioarchaeology aims to develop a broad understanding of these issues through the study of human remains. Students on this programme will also have the opportunity to study animal remains, as well as floral and faunal evidence.

The programme develops advanced practical skills in skeletal analysis, making use of the department’s well-provisioned specialist laboratories and reference collections. A particular strength of our provision is that we are able to address the bioarchaeology of both the New and Old Worlds. Those completing the Course acquire the skills necessary to continue into academic research or employment, as an osteologist in field units, museums or Cultural Resources Managament companies.

The programme allows you to specialise in one of two named pathways: Human Osteoarchaeology (physical anthropology and funerary archaeology) or Zooarchaeology (animal bones and other faunal remains).

Learning and teaching

Most of the formal classes that you attend will be based on a mixture of lectures, seminars, and workshops. The precise mix will vary between modules. These aim to outline the principal issues of the module, to explore some detailed issues, and, where relevant, to give you experience of working with a particular technique or data set.
All members of staff are actively engaged in research, both in Britain and abroad, and regularly attend conferences, symposia and workshops. It is through this active engagement in the discipline that we are able to supply top quality teaching by experts in their field and as a result we have a 24/24 grading for our teaching from the Quality Assurance Agency.
In addition to our established palaeobotany, experimental archaeology, and microscopy laboratories, we have a new bioarchaeology lab dedicated to the study of anatomical variation, palaeopathological conditions, and the funerary context of human and animal remains. The laboratory, accompanied by a designated store for the Department's collection of human remains, provides facilities for use by researchers and students for examining skeletal remains recovered from archaeological sites. Equipment includes anatomical casts and demographic reference standards used to determine the sex, age-at-death, stature and body proportions from human remains.

Research areas

Bioarchaeological research at Exeter combines the study of archaeology with branches of the natural and physical sciences to address questions of health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and natural and human-induced environmental impacts in the past.

Our approach is holistic and inter-disciplinary, drawing its inspiration from both definitions of ‘bioarchaeology’: as a study applied to human remains (human osteoarchaeology) and, as originally defined by Grahame Clark, as related to the integration of environmental archaeology, floral and faunal evidence – archaeobotany and zooarchaeology – in archaeological research.
Active field research programmes in North and South America and Eurasia link with extensive laboratory research to address questions of social structure and social organisation, the process of animal and plant domestication, the development of social inequality and power relations, violence and warfare, the rise of élites and craft specialists, and division of labour.

Programme Structure

This programme includes 135 credits of compulsory modules and 45 credits of optional modules.

Pathways

The two available pathways are; Human Osteology (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/archaeology/bioarch/humanosteology/) and Zooarchaeology
(http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/archaeology/bioarch/zooarchaeology/)

Compulsory modules

The compulsory modules for each of the pathways can include the following; Research Methods and Archaeological Theory; Musculo-skeletal Anatomy; Advanced Zooarchaeology; Advanced Human Osteology; Zooarchaeology (Masters level); Bioarchaeology Dissertation and Bioarchaeology Dissertation Zooarchaeology.

Optional modules

The following is a list of the possible optional modules; Advanced Project; Experimental Archaeology in Practice; Field Study; Landscape Archaeology: Understanding the historic environment; Material Culture; Advanced Human Osteology; ;Zooarchaeology (Masters level); Palaeobotany (Masters level); Funerary Osteoarchaeology (Masters level); Musculo-skeletal Anatomy and Researching the Historic Environment Online.

The modules listed here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand

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Study for this Masters in Bioarchaeology at Liverpool John Moores University and gain hands-on experience at the archaeology excavation at the Poulton Project, carry out novel research and discover new laboratory techniques. Read more
Study for this Masters in Bioarchaeology at Liverpool John Moores University and gain hands-on experience at the archaeology excavation at the Poulton Project, carry out novel research and discover new laboratory techniques.

-Complete this masters degree in one year (full time)
-Masters course developed and delivered by leading researchers in the field
-Excavation and bioarchaeological analysis of real human remains
-Gain hands-on experience in field and laboratory techniques using specialised bioarchaeological labs and facilities
-Substantial bone selection for research and for experience as teaching toolstools


Bioarchaeology is an exciting and fast-advancing science that combines archaeology with branches of the natural sciences. Study focuses on the key topics pertaining to human remains from archaeological sites.

Bioarchaeology includes areas of scientific investigation including palaeodemography, past behaviour, biological affinity, subsistence strategy, and health and well-being in the past.

The MSc in Bioarchaeology will help you to develop a broad understanding of these issues, through the excavation and analysis of human and animal remains. Analytical techniques will cover dental and osteological analyses, archaeological field methods, and ancient genetics.

The programme aims to develop your advanced practical skills in skeletal analysis, making use of the department’s well-equipped specialist laboratories and reference collections.

A particular strength of our provision and Faculty expertise is that we are able to address the bioarchaeology of many world areas and time periods. When you complete the course, you will have all the skills necessary to continue into an academic career or gain employment in research, museums, education or commercial organisations.

During the year you will be given a personal tutor that will support you throughout your time at LJMU and be following both your academic and professional development.

Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.
Semester 1 (three core modules)

Advanced Osteology and Skeletal Pathology
Provides students with an advanced knowledge of the human skeleton and the ability to identify animal bones, methods of curation of skeletal collections and understanding of pathological modifications.
Research Design and Quantitative Methods
Provides extensive training in generic research knowledge and statistical techniques for the Natural Sciences. Students design a research project and are assessed via the preparation of a full grant application for the project.
Dental Anthropology
Provides students with the theoretical knowledge and practical experience required by bioarchaeologists to identify and examine human teeth.
Semester 2 (two core modules and one option)

Bioarchaeology: Bones, Teeth and Genes
Focuses on the different methods used to study human remains in archaeological and anthropological contexts. Delivery is through a combination of lectures, practicals, workshops and seminar sessions by experts in different fields, followed by reading and in-class discussion of recent literature.
Excavation
Covers field survey, site management, excavation and related data analysis. In addition to practicals and lectures, the course includes a non-residential field experience.
Dissertation
Comprises an independent, in-depth scientific research study on a chosen relevant topic. The following options are typically offered:
Ballistics and Arson Investigation
Teaches the fundamental principles of fire science, fire dynamics and material science, enabling students to demonstrate their application of fire investigation.
Taphonomy Trauma Analysis
Provides students with an extensive understanding of the biomechanics of human bones and the reaction of bones to the environment for a taphonomic history of the remains. Students gain a broad appreciation of different types of weapons to reconstruct a traumatic event using skeletal evidence.
Human Identification and Forensic DNA
Analyses the issues related to the identification of an unknown subject from both skeletal and genetic features. The module also introduces students to the use of a DNA typing approach for the identification of human remains.

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

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Prepare for a career in bioarchaeological research, the commercial sector or heritage management. Focus on issues such as gender and the life course, childhood, migration, diet and health. Read more
  • Prepare for a career in bioarchaeological research, the commercial sector or heritage management
  • Focus on issues such as gender and the life course, childhood, migration, diet and health
  • Join a world-leading Department with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research
  • Benefit from dedicated laboratories and state-of-the-art facilities

What will you study?

Compulsory modules include:

  • Dissertation
  • issue and Debates in Bioarchaeology
  • Research Skills and Career Learning

Optional modules include:

Bioarchaeology 

  • Human Bioarchaeology 
  • Food and Culture
  • Zooarchaeology 
  • Applications of Micromorphological Analysis 
  • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
  • Climate Change and Human Communities
  • Our Closest Cousins? Archaeology of the Neanderthals 
  • Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology 

Medieval Archaeology 

  • Viking Interactions in the West 
  • Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the archaeology of crusading 
  • The Medieval Landscape 
  • Analysing the Medieval Townscape 
  • Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology

Old World Archaeology 

  • Interpreting Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain 
  • Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia 
  • Material Cultures and Identities in the Roman Empire 
  • The Archaeology of Money: Coins, Power and Society 

Placement and Career 

  • Archaeological Graphics 
  • Research and Enterprise Placement 
  • Research and Enterprise Micro-Placement 
  • Management of Heritage Assets 
  • Quantitative Methods 

Please see our modules outline for further information.

Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.

What career can you have?

Our graduates go on to full-time employment within archaeology and related consultancies or units, museums and government agencies. Up to one third continue their academic career through doctoral research. In recent years, graduates have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies (Historic England, National Trust) and universities, including Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter and Newcastle.



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Develop and enhance your knowledge of archaeology through a selection of specialist modules that suit your chronological, geographical and thematic interests. Read more
  • Develop and enhance your knowledge of archaeology through a selection of specialist modules that suit your chronological, geographical and thematic interests
  • A flexible degree that prepares you for a career in research, the commercial sector or heritage management
  • Become part of a world-leading Department with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research
  • Take thematic and skills-based options that integrate social and scientific techniques
  • Benefit from dedicated laboratories and state-of-the-art facilities

What will you study?

Conmpulsory modules include: 

  • Dissertation 
  • Research Skills and Career Learning

Optional Modules include:

Theory 

  • Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology 
  • Issues and Debates in Medieval Archaeology 
  • Issues and Debates in Bioarchaeology 
  • Quantitative Methods 

Old World Archaeology 

  • Our Closest Cousins? Archaeology of the Neanderthals 
  • Interpreting Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain 
  • Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia 
  • Climate Change and Human Societies
  • Material Cultures and Identities in the Roman Empire
  • The Archaeology of Money: Coins, Power and Society 

Medieval Archaeology

  • Viking Interactions in the West 
  • Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the archaeology of crusading
  • The Medieval Landscape 
  • Analysing the Medieval Townscape 

Bioarchaeology 

  • Human Bioarchaeology 
  • Food and Culture 
  • Zooarchaeology 
  • Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology 
  • Applications of Micromorphological Analysis 
  • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 
  • Climate Change and Human Communities

Placement and Career Options

  • Archaeological Graphics 
  • Research and Enterprise Placement
  • Research and Enterprise Micro-Placement 
  • Management of Heritage Assets

Please see our modules outline for further information.

Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.

What career can you have?

Our graduates go on to full-time employment within archaeology and related consultancies or units, museums and government agencies. Up to one third continue their academic career through doctoral research. In recent years, graduates have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies (Historic England, National Trust) and universities, including Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter and Newcastle.



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Gain advanced training in the palaeoenvironment. Develop skills for a career in commercial and heritage organisations or future doctoral research. Read more
  • Gain advanced training in the palaeoenvironment
  • Develop skills for a career in commercial and heritage organisations or future doctoral research
  • Choose from geoarchaeology and bioarchaeology options for advanced skills in environmental-based assessments, heritage management and field projects
  • Become part of a world-leading Department with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research

What will you study?

Compulsory modules include:

  • Dissertation
  • Issues and Debates in Environmental Archaeology
  • Research Skills and Career Learning
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Field Methods and Experimentation
  • Field Course: Earth Science & Archaeological Investigations

Optional modules include:

Geoarchaeology 

  • Geochemistry in Quaternary Science and Archaeology 
  • Climate Change and Human Communities 
  • Quaternary Climate Change 
  • Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology 
  • Tropical Rainforests, Climate and Land Use Through Time 
  • Applications of Micromorphological Analysis 

Bioarchaeology 

  • Human Bioarchaeology 
  • Food and Culture 
  • Zooarchaeology 
  • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 
  • Molluscan Biostatigraphy 
  • Our Closest Cousins? Archaeology of the Neanderthals 

Placements and Careers

  • Erasmus Scheme (involves 1 term in Europe)
  • Research and Enterprise Placement 
  • Research and Enterprise Micro-Placement 
  • Management of Heritage Assets 

Please see our modules outline for further information.

Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.

What career can you have?

Our graduates go on to full-time employment within archaeology and related consultancies or units, museums and government agencies. Up to one third continue their academic career through doctoral research. In recent years, graduates have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies (Historic England, National Trust) and universities, including Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter and Newcastle.



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Palaeopathology is the study of past disease in human remains; it is a sub-discipline of bioarchaeology (study of human remains from archaeological sites). Read more

Palaeopathology is the study of past disease in human remains; it is a sub-discipline of bioarchaeology (study of human remains from archaeological sites). This lecture, seminar and laboratory based MSc equips you with the theoretical and practical skills knowledge of how to study and interpret data collected from human remains. The emphasis is on health and well-being using a multidisciplinary approach, linking biological evidence for disease with cultural data (the bioarchaeological approach). This course is unique in the world and it takes a holistic view of disease, as seen in a clinical contexts today, and will prepare you for undertaking significant research projects in this subject, or working in contract/commercial archaeology, and many other fields. It is aimed at graduates mainly in archaeology and anthropology with or without past experience of knowledge in this field, and for those who aspire to continue into a PhD programme or work in contract archaeology. However, past students have come from a variety of subject backgrounds, and destination data illustrate a wide range of employments take these students.

Course Structure

Two taught modules in the Epiphany term (Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science and Identification and Analysis of the Normal Human Skeleton), and two taught modules in Michaelmas term (Palaeopathology: Theory and Method; Themes in Palaeopathology), with the double module dissertation over Easter term and the summer (submitted early September).

Core Modules

  • Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science
  • Identification and Analysis of the Normal Human Skeleton
  • Palaeopathology: Theory and Method
  • Themes in Palaeopathology
  • Dissertation (double module).

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is mainly delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area, and identify the main areas for discussion and debate in bioarchaeology. Seminars then provide opportunities for smaller groups of you to discuss and debate particular issues or areas, based on the knowledge that you have gained through your lectures and through independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. Finally, practical laboratory classes allow you to gain direct practical skills in the recording and interpretation of data from skeletal remains. The latter provide an important element of the programme in allowing independent and group work, as well as hands-on experience under laboratory conditions, essential for a potential future working environment.

The balance of these types of activities changes over the course of the programme, as you develop your knowledge and ability as independent learners, giving them the opportunity to engage in research, professional practice, and developing and demonstrating research skills in a particular area of the subject.

In Term 1 you will typically attend 4 hours a week of lectures and 2.5 hours of laboratory sessions, in addition to seminars over the term. Outside timetabled contact hours, you are also expected to undertake your own independent study to prepare for your classes and broaden your subject knowledge. External speakers specialising in specific subject areas from “industry” and academia are brought in to engage the students on issues in research, but also in the profession.

In Term 2 the balance shifts from learning the basic skills required for recording and interpreting skeletal data (age at death, sex, normal variation), to further developing skills for palaeopathological data recording and their interpretation and understanding the limitations. In addition, the Themes module aims to develop in students a critical approach to the evaluation of multiple forms of evidence, beyond that for human remains, for the reconstruction of specific themes. It focuses on discussion and debate of different related issues. In Term 2 you will typically attend 4 hours a week of lectures and 2.5 hours of laboratory sessions, in addition to seminars over the term. Again, external speakers specialising in specific subject areas from “industry” and academia are brought in to engage the students on issues in research, but also in the profession.

The move towards greater emphasis on independent learning and research continues in Term 3 and beyond, where the research skills acquired earlier in the programme are developed through the dissertation research project. Under the supervision of a member of academic staff with whom they will typically have three one-to-one supervisory meetings, you will undertake a detailed study of a particular area, resulting in a significant piece of independent research. The dissertation is regarded as a preparation for further professional or academic work. In Term 3 students are given the opportunity to attend a Careers Session in the Department where past graduates of the course talk about their career trajectories since graduating.

Throughout the programme, you will have access to an “academic adviser”, or in the case of this MSc the two Directors (Professor Charlotte Roberts and Dr Rebecca Gowland), who provide you with academic support and guidance. Typically a student meets their adviser two to three times a year, in addition to which all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. The department also has an exciting programme of weekly one hour research seminars which postgraduate students are strongly encouraged to attend. Additionally, the students who attend the MSc Palaeopathology course are provided with the opportunity to attend journal paper critique sessions each term, and human bioarchaeology seminars given by PhD students.

Career Opportunities

Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.



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Choose from a diverse range of options covering the full extent of the Middle Ages (AD 400-1600). Learn to integrate social and scientific techniques. Read more
  • Choose from a diverse range of options covering the full extent of the Middle Ages (AD 400-1600)
  • Learn to integrate social and scientific techniques
  • Prepare for a career in research, the commercial sector or heritage management
  • Become part of a Department with one of the world’s largest groups of medieval archaeologists
  • Benefit from state-of-the-art facilities

What will you study?

Compulsory modules include:

  • Dissertation
  • Issues and Debates in Medieval Archaeology
  • Research Skills and Career Learning

Optional modules include:

The Social World of Medieval Archaeology 

  • Viking Interactions in the West
  • Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the archaeology of crusading 
  • The Medieval Landscape
  • ONE Language option with the IWLP 
  • Medieval Latin and Palaeography 
  • Theoretical Approaches to archaeology 

Bioarchaeology

  • Human Bioarchaeology 
  • Food and Culture 
  • Zooarchaeology 
  • Applications of Micromorphological Analysis 
  • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 
  • Climate Change and Human Communities 

Placement and Career 

  • Archaeological Graphics 
  • Research and Enterprise Placement
  • Research and Enterprise Micro-Placement 
  • Management of Heritage Assets 
  • Quantitative Methods 

You may also select Old World or Environmental Archaeology modules.

Please see our modules outline for further information.

Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.

What career can you have?

Our graduates go on to full-time employment within archaeology and related consultancies or units, museums and government agencies. Up to one third continue their academic career through doctoral research. In recent years, graduates have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies (Historic England, National Trust) and universities, including Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter and Newcastle.



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The MSc by Research Archaeological Science programme is an exciting opportunity to develop advanced knowledge and understanding of specific areas of archaeological science by following a personalised, individual study pathway, in close collaboration with our staff. Read more
The MSc by Research Archaeological Science programme is an exciting opportunity to develop advanced knowledge and understanding of specific areas of archaeological science by following a personalised, individual study pathway, in close collaboration with our staff. You will further your own intellectual development and enhance your independent research skills by completing a substantial archaeological research project.

It is ideal preparation for students wishing to undertake a PhD in archaeology, and follows the research model (1 year research training MA plus three years research) suggested by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It also provides a wide range of highly sought-after skills in research, critical thinking, data analysis, and communication which will provide the foundation for a future career in archaeology and heritage, as well as many other sectors.

This course offers you the flexibility to tailor the content to reflect your personal interests and research topic. Our teaching draws on the extensive and world-leading research expertise of staff within the Department of Archaeology. We have internationally-renowned expertise in Bioarchaeology (palaeoanthropology, archaeobotany and zooarchaeology) and Archaeological Materials (ceramics, glass and metals), with staff members who work across regions and chronological periods ranging from Old-World Prehistory, to the ancient Mediterranean and the Roman world, and Medieval and Post-Medieval Europe. Students can follow a specialist pathway focusing on specific areas of environmental or materials science, gaining advanced training in practical and analytical techniques, and can combine this with an in-depth study of a specific period or region. You will undertake independent research on a topic of your choice, supervised by a member of staff, which will include a major component of primary scientific analysis of archaeological evidence.

For those in current employment, the MSc by Research can be studied over two years on a part-time basis. As teaching is largely undertaken through individual tutorials or small groups, there is a great deal of flexibility to organise your time around existing commitments.
Visit the Department of Archaeology website to explore the Department's research and teaching profile.

Key facts

The department offers excellent facilities for teaching and research, including a suite of new, fully-equipped laboratories for both bioarchaeology and archaeological materials.
The department has established a Next Generation fund, to which our postgraduate students can apply for awards to help them undertake exciting new research projects or work placements at the end of their degree. Every year we run a Next Generation Archaeology conference which our staff and students organise together.
This course is taught within a thriving department that attracts academic and research staff from around the world, and which has a friendly and vibrant atmosphere.

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You can choose between the Master's programme in Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology and the Master's programme in Prehistory and Protohistory of Northwest Europe. Read more
You can choose between the Master's programme in Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology and the Master's programme in Prehistory and Protohistory of Northwest Europe. Both Master programmes include different tracks: a track with the name og the programme, a specialized track in Bioarchaeology and Maritime Archeology, while a third track, Arctic Archaeology can be followed under the programme Prehistory and Protohistory of Northwestern Europe. All programmes and tracks will teach you to tackle archaeological problems in a scientific way.

In the first semester, you will be introduced to the archaeological practice and its multidisciplinary character. You will discuss the role of archaeology in contemporary society and explore the relation between archaeology and politics. You will strengthen your knowledge of archaeological theories that are used in collecting and interpreting data. In addition, you will carry out research in an excavation project. If you choose the programme Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology, you will work on a project in Greece, Italy, Turkey or Egypt. Does your preference go to Prehistory and Protohistory of Northwestern Europe, then you will carry out your research at a site in that region, or in the Arctic.

In the second semester, you have to do an internship. Finally, you will finish your degree with a thesis.

Job perspectives

Thanks to the Valetta Treaty on Archaeology, the job market in the Netherlands has been strong. These opportunities have now decreased, leading to a more diverse job market, within government and semi-government agencies, tourism, journalism and private enterprises. Archaeology is traditionally strong in obtaining grants for research projects, especially PhD projects.

Job examples

- Commercial archaeological firms
- Free-lance specialist
- Musea
- State archaeological service
- Research institutes
- Cultural institutes
- PhD research

The BA and MA programmes are strongly tied to the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), which comprises the archaeological research of the University of Groningen.

GIA research is focused on:
- Prehistoric, protohistoric and historical archaeology in the Netherlands, the Mediterranean and the Arctics.
- Bioarchaeology: archaeobotany and archaeozoology
- Material culture studies, including conservation
- Landscape archaeology, including GIS-based studies

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In this programme, you will learn to find the answer to these and other puzzles of Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology. The programme is part of the Archaeology Master programme and builds on the knowledge and skills obtained in a BA programme of Archaeology. Read more
In this programme, you will learn to find the answer to these and other puzzles of Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology. The programme is part of the Archaeology Master programme and builds on the knowledge and skills obtained in a BA programme of Archaeology.

Within the programme three different tracks are available. These tracks have their specific core modules, but also share courses with the other tracks within our MA programme.

The tracks are:

* Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology, with core modules The Rise of Cities and States, Mediterranean Landscape Archaeology and the Archaeology of Death.

* Bioarchaeology, with a core module of the same name.

* Maritime Archaeology with a core module of the same name.

The first semester comprises one compulsory module, Archaeology Today, and two optional modules (The Rise of Cities and States, and Mediterranean Landscape Archaeology). In the second semester you can follow two optional modules (Archaeology of Death, Advanced GIS course), or do an internship. The final stage of the MA programme is a thesis.

Why in Groningen?

- flexible structure
- all courses are taught in English
- attention to both theory and practice
- large international research projects in Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq
- unique archaeobotanical and archaeozoological reference collections
- GIS and Material Culture laboratories
- close connections with Ancient History, Classics and Religious Studies
- close connections with Centre for Isotopes Research and Biology
- very low tuition fees
- a student friendly city

Job perspectives

The job opportunities for archaeologists in Europe are good. Because of the Valleta Treaty, all spatial planning projects have to take archaeological heritage into account. This has increased the work possibilities at consultancy and governmental agencies. It is also possible to find a position in the museum world or become an academic researcher.

The BA and MA programmes are strongly tied to the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), which comprises the archaeological research of the University of Groningen.

GIA research is focused on:
- Prehistoric, protohistoric and historical archaeology in the Netherlands, the Mediterranean and the Arctics.
- Bioarchaeology: archaeobotany and archaeozoology
- Material culture studies, including conservation
- Landscape archaeology, including GIS-based studies

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Students in this programme are trained to research these type of questions. This programme is part of the Master programme of Archaeology and builds on the knowledge and skills obtained in a BA programme of Archaeology. Read more
Students in this programme are trained to research these type of questions.

This programme is part of the Master programme of Archaeology and builds on the knowledge and skills obtained in a BA programme of Archaeology.

Within the programme four different tracks are available. These tracks have their specific core modules, but also share courses with the other tracks within our MA programme.

The track are:
- Prehistory and Protohistory in northwest Europe, with core modules Prehistoric Cultural Landscapes and Terp-mound Archaeology
- Bioarchaeology, with a core module of the same name
- Maritime Archaeology with a core module of the same name
- Arctic Archaeology, with the core module Sustainability at the Polar Regions

The first semester comprises one compulsory module, Archaeology Today, and two of the other modules named here. In the second semester there is the opportunity to do an internship or an advances GIS course. The final stage of the MA programme is a thesis.

Why in Groningen?

- flexible structure
- unique archaeobotanical and archaeozoological reference collections
- GIS and Material Culture laboratories
- all courses are taught in English
- close connections with Centre for Isotopes Research and Biology
- very low tuition fees
- a student friendly city

Job perspectives

Thanks to the Valetta Treaty on Archaeology, the job market in the Netherlands has been strong. These opportunities have now decreased, leading to a more diverse job market, within government and semi-government agencies, tourism, journalism and private enterprises. Archaeology is traditionally strong in obtaining grants for research projects, especially PhD projects.

The BA and MA programmes are strongly tied to the Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), which comprises the archaeological research of the University of Groningen.

GIA research is focused on:
- Prehistoric, protohistoric and historical archaeology in the Netherlands, the Mediterranean and the Arctics.
- Bioarchaeology: archaeobotany and archaeozoology
- Material culture studies, including conservation
- Landscape archaeology, including GIS-based studies

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The Research Master’s programme in Archaeology is the most diverse in the Netherlands. Benefit from our extensive experience and reputation in archaeological research. Read more

The Research Master’s programme in Archaeology is the most diverse in the Netherlands. Benefit from our extensive experience and reputation in archaeological research.

Choose Archaeology at Leiden University:

Our research master's programme offers interesting regional and thematic specialisation possibilities. It stimulates extra-talented and motivated students by exposing them to cutting edge research and making them part of it.

The programme helps you to find your own place in the wide world of archaeological careers, and equips you with all the 21st century professional and transferable skills you need.

Our research facilities and labs, field schools and excavation projects, experimental archaeology projects and the national research schools (ARCHON, OIKOS) offer excellent opportunities for every prospective researcher.

Research possibilities in 2018-2019:

Human Origins

Australopithecus africanus, one of our many ancestors

Interdisciplinary studies of the human past

This programme provides an in-depth interdisciplinary introduction in the European Palaeolithic record and its wider setting, from the Early Pleistocene to the Late Pleistocene.

  • Study the archaeology of Prehistoric hunter-gatherers, from the earliest stone tools in East Africa, 2.6 million years old, to the end of the last ice age.
  • Focus on Neanderthal behaviour, and explore research questions, methods of analysis and theoretical perspectives in Palaeolithic archaeology.

Prehistoric Farming Communities

A view of past communities

The programme aims to develop a detailed and coherent view of past communities.

  • Focus on the later prehistory of Europe, especially on communities bordering the North Sea (Scandinavia, the Low Countries, France, Great Britain and Ireland).
  • Explore research topics such as Beaker cultures and settlements of the Bronze and Iron Ages, cultural identity, and burial ritual and (selective) deposition.

Town and Country in the Mediterranean Region and the Near East

The cradle of civilisation

This programme focuses on a region that has enormous culture-historical significance, and is a cradle of civilisation from Prehistory up to the Early Medieval period.

  • Study various key developments, such as the origins of farming and sedentary life, as well as the emergence of complex urbanised societies and writing, as they occurred first in this region and spread subsequently.
  • Participate in current research projects. These projects focus on the Near East (modern Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey) and Egypt, as well as the Mediterranean.

Religion and Society in Native American Cultures

Leiden Archaeology researchers used high-tech imaging to reveal rare precolonial Mexican manuscript hidden from view for 500 years

Study the past in connection to the present

The programme offers an interdisciplinary context, where archaeology, anthropology, sciences, history, linguistics, landscape and heritage studies come together.

  • Gain a broad knowledge of and deep insight into Native American cultural history, focusing on the relationships between religious worldview and social agency.
  • Participate in field schools related to long-term research projects, such as excavations in the Caribbean or Nicaragua,including studies of material culture and physical anthropology.

Bioarchaeology

Fragments of a sabre-toothed cat skull where recenty excavated

Combine archaeology with hard science

Discover our four research disciplines, together covering an extensive geographical area and time range.

  • Opt for Archaeobotany and investigate changes in vegetation and environment during the past 2.6 million years, as well as the taphonomy of plant macrofossils in lacustrine and fluvial depositional settings.
  • Focus on Archaeo/Palaeozoology and dive into Eurasia in the period from the Early Pleistocene to the Holocene. Biostratigraphical studies, palaeo-ecological studies, as well as taphonomical studies are carried out.
  • Study Human Osteoarchaeology and analyse human remains from international archaeology contexts as well as behavioural and social facets of mortuary practices in past societies.
  • Explore Isope Archaeology and work on the analysis and interpretation of stable isotopes of human and faunal remains from archaeological contexts. Learn how to carry out dating projects, including radiocarbon dating as well as other dating methods.

Archaeological Heritage in a Globalising World

A new and exciting interdisciplinary approach

The programme focuses on the role of the past in the present. Explore the various aspects of recent developments in international politics, cultural tourism, the use of social media, and the revitalisation of local traditions and regional identities.

  • Develop the practical skills to translate academic research and social knowledge into strategies for heritage management, and pursue individual initiatives.
  • Benefit from our close association with the Center for Global Heritage and Development, an interdisciplinary cooperation between three high-ranking universities: Leiden University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Delft Technical University. This allows for a partnership between archaeology, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences.

The Transformation of the Roman World

Europe on the starting blocks

This programme offers an introduction to advanced studies of Europe and the Mediterranean in Late Roman and Post-Roman times (c. 300-900 AD).

  • Analyse the economic recovery of North-Western Europe in Merovingian and Carolingian times, exchange networks in the Mediterranean, and agrarian innovation and water management in Jordan.
  • Study burial sites, the fate of Roman towns in the early Middle Ages, and centres of Christianity.

Master of Arts or Master of Science

Students who choose the Bioarchaeology track receive a Master of Science degree in Archaeology. For the other research tracks you receive a Master of Arts degree in Archaeology.



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On this course, you will consider fundamental questions about humanity and the processes that brought about significant changes in human history. Read more

About the course

On this course, you will consider fundamental questions about humanity and the processes that brought about significant changes in human history. You will develop skills to critically evaluate sources of information and work between the theoretical and practical demands of the discipline.

This programme allows you flexibility to choose from our entire portfolio of modules. If your first degree is in another subject, this is an excellent conversion course, preparing you for specialised research at PhD level.

Your future

Each of our masters courses is designed to equip you with valuable employment skills and prepare you for your future career. If you’re seeking to move into an archaeology-related field from a different academic or employment background, our courses and supportive staff will help you to realise your ambitions and develop professionally.

Graduates from our MA and MSc courses successfully compete for some of the most sought-after archaeological posts in the world. Our courses help students to develop essential transferable skills, and upon graduation they are also in demand by a wide variety of employers outside of the sector.Many of our graduates decide to continue their studies, carrying out doctoral research in their chosen specialist field, equipped with a solid theoretical and practical grounding from which to develop their research.

World-leading expertise

The character and strength of research carried out by Sheffield’s Archaeology department is captured under the following broad themes. These reflect the range of our research and its cross-disciplinary, embedded nature:

Funerary Archaeology
Landscape Archaeology
Bioarchaeology
Medieval Archaeology
Cultural Materials
Mediterranean Archaeology

Specialist facilities

The Archaeology department is situated on the edge of the main campus, near to Sheffield’s city centre. The department houses world-class reference collections and facilities to support teaching, learning and research in a range of archaeological disciplines. Facilities include specialist lab space dedicated to teaching and research, dedicated study spaces, and a student common room.

Fieldwork opportunities

We offer you the opportunity to get involved in our research projects in the UK, Europe and further afield.

How we will teach and assess you

Our students come from all around the world and the content of our courses reflects this. You can expect a balanced timetable of lectures, seminars and practicals. Many of our masters courses also include a fieldwork or project work component. Our teaching staff are leading scholars in their field. Through their research and field projects they are active in generating new knowledge that feeds directly into their teaching.

Funding, scholarships and bursaries

If you accept a place on one of our courses, you may be eligible to apply for WRoCAH and University of Sheffield studentships. There are also a number of departmental and programme-specific scholarships available each year. See our website for details.

Core modules

Reinventing Archaeology; Research Design: Planning, Execution and Presentation; Dissertation or Fieldwork Placement.

Indicative optional modules

Choose modules to the value of 75 credits from those specified. The majority of our modules are 15 credits.

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