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Masters Degrees (Palaeoanthropology)

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The Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology MSc, run jointly by the Institute of Archaeology and UCL Anthropology, brings together the expertise of the two departments to provide graduate students with an integrated training in the biological and archaeological aspects of human evolutionary studies. Read more

The Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology MSc, run jointly by the Institute of Archaeology and UCL Anthropology, brings together the expertise of the two departments to provide graduate students with an integrated training in the biological and archaeological aspects of human evolutionary studies.

About this degree

Students gain training in research methods and a scientific grounding in the principles, content and practice of palaeoanthropology and palaeolithic archaeology, including: fossil and archaeological evidence of human evolution; temporal and spatial patterns and processes of evolutionary and environmental change; and the evolutionary background for understanding human adaptation and culture.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (30 credits) four optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core modules

All students are required to take the following: 

  • Themes in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology

Optional modules

Students will be encouraged to select options from the following list up to the value of 60 credits. Alternatively, they may choose from the wider range of Master's options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology or the Department of Anthropology

  • Archaeology of Human Evolution in Africa
  • Advanced Human Evolution
  • Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from the Emergence of Modern Humans
  • Evolution of Human Brain and Behaviour
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Primate Evolution
  • Primate Socioecology
  • Zooarchaeology in Practice

Dissertation/report

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words (90 credits).

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, discussions, seminars, laboratory practicals and student presentations. Assessment is through essays, practical examination and seminar presentations, (depending on the options chosen), and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology MSc

Funding

Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2018/19. All UK/EU and Overseas fee-paying students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. For an application form please email . The deadline for applications is 1 March 2018.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Careers

A significant number of the graduate students from this programme have gone on to take PhDs at UCL, elsewhere in the UK and in other countries. A number of those have been awarded prestigious scholarships to cover their costs. Other graduates have gone on to work in cultural resource management and museums, and others have used their skills to pursue careers in fields such as IT, teaching and management.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Conference Producer, Global Transport Forum
  • Field Archaeologist, NPS Group (Norfolk Property Services)
  • Senior Scientist: Archaeology, Tetra Tech
  • PhD in Anthropology and Archaeology, Stockholms Universitet (Stockholm University)

Employability

The skills which students develop include the critical evaluation of scholarship across the discipline, design and management of personal research, primary data collection and analysis, and the preparation of detailed reports/dissertations up to publication standard. Although these will relate to anthropology and archaeology, they are invaluable skills for other areas of employment.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology and UCL Anthropology have considerable staff expertise in the fields of palaeoanthropology and palaeolithic archaeology. Staff and research students are currently involved in field projects as well as museum-based studies in Britain, various parts of Europe, the Middle East, China, East and South Africa and South America.

Our excellent results in the recent Research Excellence Framework (2014) show that our two departments are both very highly ranked in the UK.

Situated in central London, the university is within easy access of the British Museum and Natural History Museum and their outstanding palaeontological and archaeological collections.



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This programme is a pathways-based research degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialism in Palaeoanthropology. Read more

This programme is a pathways-based research degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialism in Palaeoanthropology.

Palaeoanthropology (combining Palaeolithic archaeology, biological anthropology and genetics) is one of the fastest-changing disciplines. Beyond the headlines of “the earliest” and “the most advanced” lies a huge range of evidence to explore and master, focusing on how our early ancestors and their relatives lived their lives and responded to opportunities and setbacks. Here at Southampton we have particular strengths in social and technological responses of hominins (the species directly ancestral to our own) to changing environments and landscapes, and have been shaping the debates on these key aspects for several decades.

Introducing your degree

Palaeoanthropology is a pathway within the MSc degree, and it aims to give you a diverse and in-depth experience of the discipline’s key themes. There is a strong emphasis on the development of practical skills in the study of ancient material culture, in visiting some key Palaeolithic sites, and in reconstructing the environments and lifeways of our hominin ancestors. From seven million years ago, and Sahelanthropus tchadensis, to the molecular biology of Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, and through to collections of beautiful American Palaeo-Indian Clovis points, this pathway master’s will prepare you for future research in human origins, or give you an in-depth understanding of our amazing evolutionary journey, depending on what you want out of your MSc.

You will acquire an expertise in looking at hominin material culture which will include a mixture of traditional techniques, as well as some of the ways of analysing artefacts that Southampton is pioneering. Students will also learn the latest theoretical issues in human evolution and engage with some of the most up to date arguments surrounding our ancient ancestors from staff actively shaping those debates. Students with an interest in general Prehistory will find many of the modules and topics available on the Palaeoanthropology Pathway of interest and relevance.

You will be based in the John Wymer Laboratory, which is CAHO’s (Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins) nerve centre. Here you will have daily access to our extensive teaching collections of replica and real stone tools, our hominin skull collection, and a large library of original and rare offprints and books focused on our most ancient ancestors and their world as well as on modern-day primates. The Wymer is a lively research and teaching space where you will be in the company of other MSc students, as well as our Ph.D researchers. We also have an experimental knapping and ancient technology area, where you can use our equipment to test key questions. You will automatically be a member of CAHO, and can participate in all its various activities. You will also have the opportunity of taking modules in related subjects such as skeletal anatomy or evolutionary and molecular biology to broaden your knowledge base.

Through CAHO you will be linked to a huge network of Human Origins teachers and researchers who are at the forefront of their disciplines. We aim to provide an enjoyable but challenging experience and convince you that the interdisciplinary study of hominin ‘deep history’, understanding who and what we are, and how behaviours developed, is one of our greatest intellectual journeys.

Overview

You 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. By these means you will acquire skills for vocational employment or subsequent PhD research. Your programme will be embedded within Southampton Archaeology’s distinctive research culture, with world-class expertise, diverse practice, and contacts with the commercial environment and the heritage sector.

The specialism in Palaeoanthropology includes elements that familiarise you with human evolution; primatology; early tool manufacture and use; cognitive and anthropological approaches to the human past; and key debates in British and European prehistory from our earliest ancestors onwards. 

Important aspects of the programme are available across all specialisms. These include the compulsory dissertation module, which should focus on an area of your specialism, if you have chosen one. Furthermore, modules from each pathway are open to you as options, regardless of your chosen specialism. By these means you will be able to build a personalised and flexible programme tailored to your needs.

This programme includes opportunities for credit-bearing placements within organisations involved in commercial archaeology, heritage management, fieldwork projects and/or museums. The placements are typically organised by the University, and may be available to students following all specialisms, or crossing between them.

View the programme specification document for this course



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What does it mean to be human? What are the origins of our species? Archaeological and palaeontological discoveries help us answer these fundamental questions and provide insights into human cognition, behaviour and life ways. Read more
What does it mean to be human? What are the origins of our species? Archaeological and palaeontological discoveries help us answer these fundamental questions and provide insights into human cognition, behaviour and life ways.

On this course you'll study human evolution by evaluating the ultimate source of information – the fossil record.

We'll teach you to think critically and train you in the analytical techniques required to describe and interpret the fossil evidence for early hominid and human evolution.

Our approach is both science- and humanities-based. You'll explore themes such as the evolution of bipedalism, cognition and the origins of modernity, providing you with a unique combination of biological anthropology, human and comparative anatomy, primatology and hominid palaeontology.

The course also offers an introduction to the use of innovative technologies for 2D and 3D imaging of skeletal and fossil materials in palaeoanthropological research. It's designed to appeal to those who want to create a strong platform for doctoral research in palaeoanthropology, as well as those who just want to deepen their understanding of our extinct ancestors.

You'll get unlimited access to excellent lab facilities and extensive collections of skeletons and replica casts of modern humans, primates and fossil hominins. A wide range of up-to-date resources are available in the department's palaeoanthropology and osteology teaching laboratories.

Core modules

The programme offers a range of closely integrated core modules in human anatomy and comparative osteology which enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the palaeoanthropological record.

Human Evolution: Theory & Practice in Research
Quantitative methods in anthropology and archaeology
Research design: planning, execution and presentation
Human anatomy
Human osteology
Evolutionary anatomy
Dissertation in Palaeoanthropology
Optional modules

Optional modules are available in philosophy, linguistics and other topics. Examples include:

Archaeobotany
Archaeozoology

If you study part-time, you'll take two 15-credit modules in each semester during Year 1 and Year 2, and either a dissertation or placement module over the summer of Year 2. We arrange for you to attend two days a week but we try to be as flexible as possible.

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Our MRes programme provide a personalised and focused introduction to postgraduate research allowing you to develop as an independent researcher with the support of an expert in Palaeoanthropology. Read more
Our MRes programme provide a personalised and focused introduction to postgraduate research allowing you to develop as an independent researcher with the support of an expert in Palaeoanthropology.

It provides a rigorous overview of the current state of scholarship in your selected field, guides you, through a programme of directed, individualised reading, to the selection of a feasible research project, and allows you to complete a substantial piece of research.

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The MSc in Palaeoanthropology provides an up-to-date foundation in the study of human evolution for people interested in human origins. Read more
The MSc in Palaeoanthropology provides an up-to-date foundation in the study of human evolution for people interested in human origins.

The programme's especially suitable for graduates with a first degree in Archaeology, Anthropology, Earth or Life Sciences. You'll be able to tailor your studies to reflect you interests, by choosing from a diverse array of subjects such as:-

the archaeology of early hominin sites
African archaeology
hominid palaeontology
evolutionary theory
primate evolution
science-based techniques in palaeoanthropological investigation.
You'll complete your programme with a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words on an aspect of human evolution.

We aim to be flexible, supportive, encouraging and challenging in our approach to students. For example, if you're new to a topic you're very welcome to attend lectures offered in Year Three modules of the undergraduate programme in Evolutionary Anthropology.

Why Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology?

Academic expertise

Archaeology, Classics and Eygyptology has 39 full-time academic staff, who are all actively engaged in research ranging from early prehistory through to late antiquity.

Here are some of our particularly strong areas:-

- African archaeology
- ancient languages
- archaeology of the Mediterranean and the Near East
- archaeological science
- Egyptology
- European prehistory
- Greek and Roman history and culture.

Fieldwork is an important part of research in archaeology and we've projects based internationally, in Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Jordan, Turkey, Italy, Zambia and South Africa, as well as in the British Isles.

Taught masters programmes

We offer a unique breadth of taught masters degrees in Ancient History, Archaeology (MA or MSc), Human Evolution, Classics and Egyptology.

You can configure a wide choice of modules to suit your interests and requirements and there are opportunities to learn different approaches and techniques, as well as ancient languages such as Greek, Latin, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian and Coptic.

All of our masters degrees provide intensive training to prepare you for doctoral research and employment.

Excellent resources

The Ancient World and Archaeology has been studied at Liverpool since the 1880s, so we've had plenty of time to build up an enviable library and a fantastic museum.

The Garstang Museum, which is in the ACE building, has outstanding archaeological collections, along with extensive laboratory facilities for conservation, lithics, geomagnetism, stable isotope, trace elements, finds processing and sample preparation.

We also have a GIS suite with facilities for archaeological drawing and offer 24-hour access for taught students to a dedicated Student Resource Centre, complete with PCs, personal lockers, desk space, wi-fi and a networked printer.

Career prospects

Our Masters programmes are designed to equip students with a wide range of transferable skills, with an emphasis on the development of both research and practical analytical skills. They equip students for further study at Postgraduate level (MPhil/PhD) and meet the training requirements of the AHRC and NERC. Research students have not only continued their studies at postdoctoral level, but also embarked on specialised long-term careers in lecturing, museum work and the heritage industry. Our degrees are a good investment in your future. Whichever direction you choose after graduation, potential employers (both nationally and internationally) appreciate the breadth of view, analytical skills and intellectual rigour that you gain by studying civilizations and periods so different from our own.

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This programme is a pathways-based research degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialisms in Higher Archaeological Practice, Palaeoanthropology or Bioarchaeology. Read more

This programme is a pathways-based research degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialisms in Higher Archaeological Practice, Palaeoanthropology or Bioarchaeology. You may choose to focus on one of these areas, or alternatively you may prefer to acquire a broad range of skills across these specialisms.

Overview

You 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. By these means you will acquire skills for vocational employment or subsequent PhD research. Your programme will be embedded within Southampton Archaeology’s distinctive research culture, with world-class expertise, diverse practice, and contacts with the commercial environment and the heritage sector.

The MSc Archaeology offers you a choice of modules from all specialisms with no requirement to focus on a specific area. You may also choose to specialise in pathways Higher Archaeological Practice Palaeoanthropology and Bioarchaeology 

Important aspects of the programme are available across all specialisms. These include the compulsory dissertation module, which should focus on an area of your specialism, if you have chosen one. Furthermore, modules from each pathway are open to you as options, regardless of your chosen specialism. By these means you will be able to build a personalised and flexible programme tailored to your needs.

This programme includes opportunities for credit-bearing placements within organisations involved in commercial archaeology, heritage management, fieldwork projects and/or museums. The placements are typically organised by the University, and may be available to students following all specialisms, or crossing between them.

View the programme specification document for this course



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This taught Masters course will provide you with a detailed understanding of human and primate evolution, focusing on anatomy and morphology and their interfaces with ecology and behaviour. Read more

This taught Masters course will provide you with a detailed understanding of human and primate evolution, focusing on anatomy and morphology and their interfaces with ecology and behaviour. You’ll acquire practical and theoretical knowledge about cutting-edge tools for morphometrics, imaging and functional simulation used to interpret the fossil record.

In addition, you can gain practical knowledge of anatomy through dissection of human cadaveric material as well as comparative anatomical study. You will also undertake a research project of your choice in consultation with your supervisor to investigate a current question in human evolution.

This programme is based in the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at HYMS on the University of York campus and co-badged with the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. The programme is also open to medical students wishing to intercalate.

Through membership of the interdisciplinary PALAEO Centre at the University of York, this MSc is an attractive option for those wishing to combine anatomical and archaeological approaches to the study of palaeoanthropology.

Study information

The programme is made up of a mix of core and optional modules.

Core modules include:

  • Human evolutionary anatomy
  • Hard tissue biology
  • Primate ecology and evolution
  • Research project and dissertation

Optional modules include:

  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Virtual anatomies        
  • Functional and musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Special topics in musculoskeletal anatomy
  • Becoming human
  • Ancienct biomolecules

For further details on modules, click here.

* All modules are subject to availability.

Future prospects

This taught masters will give you a highly regarded qualification and a solid grounding in human anatomy and evolution. The programme opens up career opportunities in anatomy laboratories and anatomy teaching, or can be used as a stepping-stone to further studies at PhD level.

Hull York Medical School (HYMS) staff have a wide variety of expertise in the area and our research is supported by the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences. Research focuses on the ecological, evolutionary, functional and developmental bases of morphological variation in humans, primates, other mammals and reptiles.



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The Anthropology MRes offers students a thorough grounding in a wide range of biological or social science methodologies and methods, an advanced knowledge of contemporary questions in anthropology, and training in statistical and professional skills, which prepare graduates for doctoral research or employment as social science researchers. Read more

The Anthropology MRes offers students a thorough grounding in a wide range of biological or social science methodologies and methods, an advanced knowledge of contemporary questions in anthropology, and training in statistical and professional skills, which prepare graduates for doctoral research or employment as social science researchers.

About this degree

Students develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of topics in one of the sub-disciplines of anthropology (biological, social, medical or material culture). They are prepared for advanced level research through a general training in social science research methods and specialised research training in broad-based anthropological research methods and techniques.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of two core modules (45 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a research dissertation (105 credits).

Core modules

  • Research Methods and Skills
  • Ethnographic Area: Critical Literature Review

Optional modules

The following is a selection of possible optional modules:

  • Anthropological and Archaeological Genetics
  • Art in the Public Sphere
  • Anthropological Theory
  • Primate Evolution
  • Anthropology of Socialist and Post-Socialist Societies
  • Anthropology of the Built Environment
  • Ecology of Human Groups
  • Evolution of Human Brain, Cognition and Language
  • History and Aesthetics of Documentary
  • Mass Consumption and Design
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Medical Anthropology and Primary Care
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Population and Development
  • Practical Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking
  • Primate Socioecology
  • Risk, Power and Uncertainty
  • Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Employment
  • Social Construction of Landscape

Dissertation/report

All MRes students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 17,000 words (inclusive of notes).

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, small group presentations and discussion, tutorials, laboratory and practical work, independent directed reading, interactive teamwork, video, and film and web-based courses. Assessment is through coursework, unseen and take-home examination, laboratory books, posters and the dissertation.

Fieldwork

Students usually conduct fieldwork over the summer after the end of the third term. The research carried out will inform the final dissertation,

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Anthropology MRes

Careers

With the completion of the MRes, we expect students to be highly competent professionals, who will either continue to the MPhil/PhD level or who will be well equipped to apply their knowledge of social science methodologies and methods and their specific anthropological expertise in a range of settings.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Civil Service Resilience Officer, Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Research Analyst, Mind
  • PhD in Anthropology, University of Oxford

Employability

The MRes enhances the profile of students who already have a strong background in anthropology by training them in professional skills, statistics and various other social science methods. Exposure to positivist social science methodologies makes graduates attractive candidates for positions in NGOs or work in applied social science. Emphasis on research design and data collection through field research prepares graduates to be independent researchers. The general social science orientation of the degree qualifies students to apply for research positions on grants in various disciplines, and it opens the way to doctoral study in anthropology and other social science subjects.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Anthropology was the first in the UK to integrate biological, social, medical and material culture into a broad-based conception of the discipline. It is one of the largest anthropology departments in the UK in terms of both staff and research student numbers, offering an exceptional breadth of expertise.

Our excellent results in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and 2014 Research Excellence Framework show that we are the leading broad-based anthropology department in the UK.

Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the wider anthropological community in London and the department's strong links with European universities and international institutions.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology

68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.



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Evolutionary theory has radically altered our understanding of human life. The Human Evolution and Behaviour MSc at UCL is designed to provide students with a solid practical and theoretical grounding in issues relevant to the evolution of humans and non-human primates. Read more

Evolutionary theory has radically altered our understanding of human life. The Human Evolution and Behaviour MSc at UCL is designed to provide students with a solid practical and theoretical grounding in issues relevant to the evolution of humans and non-human primates.

About this degree

Students develop the ability to generate, assess and synthesise empirical evidence and hypotheses related to human evolution and behaviour. They gain subject-specific skills, such as measuring skeletal material, interpreting and generating data related to human ecology, reproduction and genetics, and generating behavioural data of humans and non-human primates through observation.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of three core modules (45 credits), three optional modules (45 credits), and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core modules

Students choose two of the first three modules in the list below. Postgraduate Methods/Statistics I is compulsory for all students.

  • Human Behavioural Ecology
  • Primate Socioecology
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Postgraduate Methods/Statistics 1 (term one)*

Optional modules

Students choose three of the following optional modules:

  • Advanced Human Evolution
  • Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from the Emergence of Modern Humans
  • Archaeology of Human Evolution in Africa
  • Primate Socioecology
  • Evolution of Human Brain, Cognition and Language
  • Evolution of Human Cumulative Culture
  • Evolution of the Human Brain and Behaviour
  • Primate Evolution
  • Variation and Evolution of the Human Skull
  • Advanced Statistics
  • Practical Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking

Dissertation/report

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 15,000-word dissertation.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures including weekly two-hour departmental seminars, and occasional attendance at non-departmental seminars. Assessment is through take-home examination, essays, lab-books, practical tests, and presentation. The dissertation is assessed by a project presentation and the thesis.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Human Evolution and Behaviour MSc

Careers

Many graduates are successful in entering fully funded doctoral programmes based on their training and achievements on the programme. Our graduates also go not o work in the media (TV, radio , publishing), in NGOs (community development, nature conservation), government organisations (national statistics, health programmes), in zoos and museums (overseeing collections, co-ordination research), or become school teachers. Moreover, numerous alumni have become notable academics in their own right, teaching as permanent staff in universities across the globe.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Archaeological Research Assistant, The Cyprus Institute
  • Business Director, CEB
  • Freelance Consultant, A Piece of Pie
  • PGCE Secondary Science - Specialised in Biology and Psychology, University of Exeter
  • Civil Servant, Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Employability

Graduates of the programme will be trained in the fundamentals of scientific inquiry including hypothesis generation, data collection and statistical analysis, data synthesis and reporting of results. Additionally, they acquire advanced training in computer-based quantitative methods, presentation techniques, and the public understanding of science. Students will also gain skills specific to their dissertation research that can include behavioural observation techniques, field data collection, computer modelling, and advanced shape analysis.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Anthropology was the first in the UK to integrate biological and social anthropology with material culture into a broad-based conception of the discipline. It is one of the largest anthropology departments in the UK in terms of both staff and research student numbers, offering an exceptional breadth of expertise. Our excellent results in 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and 2014 Research Excellence Framework identify us as the leading broad-based anthropology department in the UK. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the wider anthropological community in London and the department's strong links with European universities and international institutions.

Our results in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and 2014 Research Excellence Framework show that we are the leading broad-based anthropology department in the UK. 

Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the wider anthropological community in London and the department's strong links with European universities and international institutions.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Anthropology

68% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.



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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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This MSc provides students with a foundation in the analysis of human remains, both in archaeological and modern forensic settings. Read more

This MSc provides students with a foundation in the analysis of human remains, both in archaeological and modern forensic settings. With a solid grounding in skeletal and dental anatomy, students learn about morphological variation, development, methods for biological profiling, human disease and forensic approaches to trauma and taphonomy.

About this degree

Students will learn procedures for interpretation and analysis of human skeletal remains - considering both archaeological and modern forensic contexts. There is a unique opportunity to analyse recently excavated human remains, utilising methods and techniques learned during the programme. While the focus of this programme is primarily on modern humans, late Pleistocene hominids are also considered.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of five core modules (75 credits), one optional module (15 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core modules

  • Dental Anthropology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Methodology and Issues in Bioarchaeology and Palaeoepidemiology
  • Morphology and Palaeopathology of the Human Skeleton
  • Variation and Evolution of the Human Skull

Optional modules

Students choose one optional module from the following list or from the wider range of Master's optional modules available. Please note that some core modules are normally only available to those enrolled for the degree in question. If you wish to take a core module from another degree as an option certain restrictions may apply. Please consult the programme co-ordinator before choosing your optional module.

  • Advanced Forensic Anthropology
  • Archaeologies of the Modern World
  • Archaeology of Early Modern Humans
  • Forensic Geoscience (by arrangement with the Jill Dando Centre for Forensic Sciences)
  • Funerary Archaeology
  • Human Evolution (by arrangement with the Department of Anthropology)
  • Palaeoanthropology (by arrangement with the Department of Anthropology)
  • Zooarchaeology in Practice
  • Other Master's options available at the Institute of Archaeology.

Please note that not all options run every year. 

Dissertation/report

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical classes. This MSc has strong links with the Forensic Archaeological Science MSc which gives individual programmes an interesting mix of participants and provides many opportunities for discussion. Assessment is through essays, class tests, reports and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology MSc

Careers

Some graduates of the programme go on to PhD studies, while others go on to work in a range of archaeological and non-archaeological roles as osteoarchaeological specialists, members of the police, curators and political researchers.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse archaeology department in the UK, offering students a range of opportunities.

This particular MSc is unique, offering a combination of bioarchaeological and forensic principles for the study of human remains unlike anything else available in the UK. Students further benefit from access to a large collection of skeletal material for study, including dental and palaeopathology reference collections. Access to sophisticated equipment and techniques (laser scanner, SEM, thin sectioning, CT) is also available.

Some lectures will take place at the Royal College of Surgeons and students have access to their teaching collections and museums, including the Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Institute of Archaeology

73% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.



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