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Masters Degrees (Palaeoanthropology And Palaeolithic Archaeology)

We have 2 Masters Degrees (Palaeoanthropology And Palaeolithic Archaeology)

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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


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


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.


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)


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.


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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