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Archaeology - MA

Course Description

The Archaeology MA is an intensive induction programme on current archaeological theory and interpretive trends which equips students to undertake research in their chosen field. The flexible programme of study serves as an excellent expansion of undergraduate studies or as a self-designed foundation for further postgraduate and professional work.

Degree information

The programme provides a wide-ranging introduction to archaeology as a comparative, anthropologically-informed, and socially-situated discipline. Students develop critically aware perspectives on archaeological practice and research processes and gain an in-depth understanding of approaches to the collection, analysis and interpretation of archaeological data. The programme is extremely flexible, with a wide choice of options available allowing students to tailor the programme to their own interests.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of two core modules (30 credits), optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core modules - all students are required to take the following:
-Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Foundations
-Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Current Issues

Optional modules - students choose to follow further optional modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Master's programme options available at the UCL Institute of archaeology. Some of the most popular choices include:
-Aegean Prehistory: major themes and current debates
-Ancient Italy in the Mediterranean
-Archaeologies of Modern Conflict
-Archaeology of Buddhism
-Archaeology and Education
-Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from the Emergence of Modern Humans
-Archaeometallurgy: Metallic Artefacts
-Aztec Archaeology: Codices and Ethnohistory
-Beyond Chiefdoms: Archaeologies of African political complexities
-British and European Prehistory: Neolithic to Iron Age
-Funerary Archaeology
-Interpreting Pottery
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art
-Maya Art, Architecture and Archaeology
-Medieval Archaeology: Select Topics and Current Problems
-Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis
-Society and Culture in Ancient Egypt
-The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of the Near East: The Emergence of Villages and Urban Societies
-Rock Art Studies: Theories, Methods and Management

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

Teaching and learning
The core module is seminar based, and the sessions are interactive, with an emphasis on student participation and critical discussion. The optional modules are delivered through seminars, lectures, practicals, laboratory sessions, tutorials, and site and museum visits, as appropriate for specific modules. Assessment is through essays, oral examination and the dissertation.


Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to PhD studies while others have pursued an incredibly wide range of professional careers both within and beyond archaeology. Recent graduate career destinations include: excavator for a private archaeological contractor, education officer, and intern at a national museum. Several students each year normally continue on to PhD studies at UCL.

Top career destinations for this degree
-Doctoral Researcher, Graduate School of Human Development in Landscape
-Head of Corporate Legal, Fidelity
-Freelance Archaeologist, Murray Archaeological Services
-MPhil/PhD Archaeology, University College London (UCL)
-Humanities Lecturer, Cirencester College and studying PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector), Cirencester College

As the most general of the MA/MSc programmes, the experience and skills acquired depends on the optional modules selected, and how those skills are developed through assessed work, developing experise in the archaeology of specific regions, periods or themes, or specific field, museum and analytical skills. All students acquire a detailed understanding of specific theoretical debates and the critical skills to evaluate existing arguments and interpretations and to develop their own research, develop a range of research skills, and design and carry through original research. Taught from a comparative anthropological perspective, understanding cultural differences, in the past and present, is fundamental.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and one of the most highly regarded centres for archaeology, archaeological science, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain, highlighted by its top position in university assessments and National Student Survey results. It is one of the very few departments in the world undertaking research on a truly global scale. Its degrees offer an unrivalled variety of modules. The institute hosts events on many different aspects of archaeology and is linked to heritage organisations, museums and archaeological societies, providing an outstanding research environment for students.

It is truly international in outlook and membership, with students and staff from over 40 countries, and involvement in field research projects around the world.

UCL is located in central London, within walking distance of the British Museum and the British Library. UCL's own museums and collections constitute a resource of international importance for research.

Visit the Archaeology - MA page on the University College London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Alexandra Salamunovich

"The academic environment at UCL (and the Institute of Archaeology) fosters more original thought and critique of key texts than I experienced in undergraduate study at an American university. Although my undergrad was heavily based in seminars, it still seemed like we were less encouraged to dissect and critically examine the more classic pieces of literature from the field. I do feel that this difference in teaching methodology has made me a much stronger student, and my Master’s degree has been much less about repetition of information and more about forming critical, original ideas."


Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

Last Updated

07 October 2016

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