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Course content

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.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

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

Core 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:  

  • Technology within Society
  • Archaeological Data Science

At least 30 credits must be made up from the following list below: 

  • Technology within Society
  • Archaeological Data Science
  • Archaeological Ceramic Analysis
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Geoarchaeology: Methods and Concepts
  • Key topics in the Archaeology of the Americas
  • 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.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials MSc

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. The range of options available allows students to tailor their pathways towards different career prospects in archaeology and beyond.

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.

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.


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

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