Study the field that brings past people to life
Why choose this course?
Past societies responded to and treated their dead in a huge diversity of ways, providing archaeologists with crucial insights into their workings. Funerary archaeology combines analysis of human remains with their archaeological context to take a truly interdisciplinary approach to studying both life and death in the past. The course at York offers the chance to develop skills in a range of different methods and techniques, but all centred on learning how to investigate death and burial in the past. The flexible nature of the course enables you to pursue your own particular period or methodological interests.
-Explore the varied archaeological and methodological approaches to funerary archaeology
-Work alongside internationally renowned specialists in a range of different periods and methodologies, by choosing either the MA or MSc route
-Gain ‘hands on’ experience of the analysis of human remains
-Learn through fieldtrips to local museums and relevant sites, e.g. the prehistoric monuments in the Yorkshire Wolds
-Choose modules to support your own research interests
-Use the latest techniques and equipment to build key practical skills
-Receive advice on developing your career and research interests from knowledgeable staff
What does the course cover?
The course focuses a range of topics from identity, landscape, social structure, commemoration and memory, ritual and belief, and the body. It covers attitudes and repsonses to death from the first evidence for the special treatment of human remains by homids up to the place of funeray rites in modern day societies, but with a particular focus on the interpretively challenging evidence from Prehistory. The analysis of human remains and their archaeological context are both taught in a flexible modular system, that allows you to tailor the course to your particular methodological or period interests.
The MA and MSc pathways offer a chance to specialise in different areas of Funerary Archaeology research. There is also an opportunity to learn valuable practical skills, which are essential for a wide range of archaeological and associated careers.
Who is it for?
This degree is for anyone interested in studying Funerary Archaeology from a range of perspectives, which are at the frontiers of both archaeological method and theoretical approach. It is primarily for students with previous experience in archaeology, anthropology, history, art history, biology or related fields, but students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds are encouraged.
What can it lead to?
The course provides a solid foundation for a wide range of careers and further studies. Postgraduate students at York have gone on to research degrees, academic or teaching careers, museum positions and archaeology posts at local councils, regional authorities, field units, and heritage bodies such as English Heritage.
By the end of the MA or MSc Funerary Archaeology course you will be able to:
-A thorough understanding of the history of research and the theoretical approaches to Funerary Archaeology
-A broad foundation in the key aspects of studying death and burial in the past
-Identify and record human bone assemblages
-Age, sex and assess pathologies from human bones
-Explore selected methods and periods in detail, through the option modules
-Critically evaluate published research and datasets
-Orally present knowledge and concepts
-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 of York's Masters postgraduates go on to further research, academic or teaching careers, museum positions and archaeology posts at local councils, regional authorities, field units and heritage bodies. Some of the organisations our students now work for include:
-Archaeological field units
-Professional archaeologists – field and laboratory based