Study animals from the past with the techniques of the future
Why choose this course?
The MSc in Zooarchaeology at York is the UK's only dedicated programme in the archaeological study of animals. Any consideration of the human past is incomplete without examining the essential roles that animals have played in our economies and societies, and on this course you will study archaeological animal remains on a macro and micro scale to investigate what they tell us about how humans and other species have co-existed over the millennia.
Housed within BioArCh, York's world-leading centre for research into ancient biomolecules, the MSc in Zooarchaeology also draws heavily on the expertise of functional and comparative anatomists from the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, part of the Hull York Medical School. We use the full range of available techniques, including advanced biomolecular methods and sophisticated morphometrics, to investigate and interpret animal bone data in a variety of cultural contexts.
The scope of the course is global, equipping you with the knowledge and techniques to study the roles of animals in human societies from the Palaeolithic to the present, around the world. You will learn from leading academics in both traditional and biomolecular zooarchaeology, and from dedicated specialists in evolutionary anatomy, enabling you both to master the latest analytical techniques and to examine skeletal anatomy at a level of detail not possible elsewhere.
-Study past relations between people and other animals, through the archaeological record
-Examine zooarchaeology across the entire span of human prehistory and history, right around the world
-Develop advanced skills in bone taphonomy and understand its importance to osteoarchaeological studies
-Explore biomolecular techniques, including DNA analysis, proteomics and stable isotope analysis
-Investigate skeletal anatomy in intricate detail
-Work alongside leading academics in zooarchaeological research
-Receive career and research guidance from Department of Archaeology staff with significant experience of successfully placing PhD students
What does the course cover?
This course covers the practical skills, analytical techniques, and interpretative frameworks necessary to study the roles of animals in past societies from the bones and other remains that we find on archaeological sites. Core modules and laboratory classes will provide you with a solid grounding in the essential tools of the zooarchaeologist's trade, while the option modules and dissertation allow you to explore and potentially specialise in a unique range of biomolecular and anatomical approaches.
Who is it for?
This course is aimed primarily at graduates in archaeology who want to specialise in the analysis and interpretation of animal remains, either as a basis for future research or as a practical specialism to further a career in archaeology. We are also happy to accept graduates of disciplines such as biology, zoology, ecology, and palaeontology who wish to focus on the study of animals in a human context.
What can it lead to?
The advanced skills and specialist knowledge gained on this course can provide the springboard for many varied careers or further study at PhD level. Previous graduates of the course have gone on to careers in museum services, universities, conservation organisations and commercial archaeology units around the world.
By the end of the MSc Zooarchaeology course you will have:
-Gained a thorough grounding in all aspects of vertebrate zooarchaeology, including general aspects that are applicable to invertebrate zooarchaeology
-Experienced the processes of data collection, analysis and interpretation, both in principle and in practice
-Developed a range of analytical abilities by studying and undertaking quantitative analysis of zooarchaeological data
-Gained essential critical skills through reviewing and assessing published work from throughout the world, including hunter-gatherer and agrarian sites, and socially complex societies
-Studied the vertebrate skeleton, its evolutionary origins and its adaptations
-Identified and recorded archaeological bone assemblages
-Reviewed the field of taphonomy and the practical recognition of the taphonomic ‘imprint’
-Developed independent research skills by completing a dissertation project
Many our MSc Zooarchaeology postgraduates go on to conduct further research at PhD level. Others progress into careers with archaeological units, museum services, conservation bodies and a range of other organisations.
Here’s a selection of possible destinations and careers for students of this course:
-Professional archaeologists – field and laboratory based
-Museum outreach programmes and the heritage sector
-Commercial laboratory technicians
-US graduate school programmes