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Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials MSc

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Scientific analysis is a key tool in the study of archaeological artefacts and assemblages. This MSc offers detailed training in the use of scientific techniques for the analysis of archaeological and heritage materials, and a solid background in the archaeology and anthropology of technology, allowing students to design and implement archaeologically meaningful scientific projects.

About this degree

This degree aims to bridge the gap between archaeology and science by integrating both a detailed training in the use of scientific techniques for the analysis of inorganic archaeological materials and a solid background in the anthropology of technology. By the end of the degree, students should have a good understanding of the foundations of the most established analytical techniques, practical experience in their application and data processing, as well as the ability to design research projects that employ instrumental analyses to address archaeological questions.

Compulsory modules

  • Laboratory and instrumental skills in archaeological science

Optional modules

You are then able to choose further optional modules to the value of 75 credits. At least 15 credits must be made up from the following, either Technology within Society or Archaeological Data Science. At least 30 credits must be made up from the following list below.

  • Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas I: First Peoples to Emerging Complexity
  • Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas II: Empires, States and Settlement
  • Geoarchaeology: Methods and Concepts
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Working with Artefacts and Assemblages

In order to allow for a flexible curriculum, students are allowed to select up to 30 credits from any of the postgraduate modules offered at the UCL Institute of Archaeology under other Master's degrees.

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, practical demonstrations and laboratory work. A popular aspect of this programme is its extensive use of analytical facilities. Assessment is through essays, practicals, projects, laboratory reports and oral presentations depending on the options chosen, and the dissertation.

Funding

UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA) Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2019/20. 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 2019.

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

Given our strong emphasis on research training, many of our MSc graduates take up further research positions after their degree, and over half of our MSc students progress to PhD research. Their projects are generally concerned with the technology and/or provenance of ceramics, metals or glass in different regions and periods, but most of them involve scientific approaches in combination with traditional fieldwork and/or experimental archaeology. 

Some of our graduates are now teaching archaeometry or ancient technologies at different universities in the UK and abroad. Others work as conservation scientists in museums and heritage institutions, or as finds specialists, researchers and consultants employed by archaeological field units or academic research projects.

Employability

Due largely to an unparalleled breadth of academic expertise and laboratory facilities, our graduates develop an unusual combination of research and transferable skills, including critical abilities, team working, multimedia communication, numerical thinking and the use of advanced analytical instruments. On completion of the degree, graduates should be as comfortable in a laboratory as in a museum and/or an archaeological site. They become acquainted with research design and implementation, ethical issues and comparative approaches to world archaeology through direct exposure to an enormous variety of projects.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK. Its specialist staff, outstanding library and fine teaching and reference collections provide a stimulating environment for postgraduate study.

The excellent in-house laboratory facilities will provide direct experience of a wide range of techniques, including electron microscopy and microphone analysis, fixed and portable X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, infra-red spectroscopy, petrography and metallography under the supervision of some of the world's leading specialists.

The institute houses fine teaching and reference collections that are extensively used by MSc students including ceramics, metals, stone artefacts and geological materials from around the world. In addition, the institute has a wide network of connections to museums and ongoing projects offering research opportunities for MSc students.

Department: Institute of Archaeology

Applications

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £75 for online applications and £100 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

The programme is designed for graduates in archaeology or related disciplines with an interest in scientific methods. It is also suitable for conservators and others concerned with archaeological collections, and for science graduates who have, or are willing to acquire, a good understanding of archaeology.

Application deadlines

26 July 2019

For more information see our Applications page.

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What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials at graduate level
  • what do you consider to be the major challenges in this field today
  • if you have a strong interest in any particular ancient material or technology
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
  • why you want to study Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials at UCL
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment

Visit the Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

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