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The MA Archaeology is a flexible degree that prepares you for a career in research, the commercial sector or heritage management.

Join a world-leading Department of Archaeology with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research as you take thematic and skills-based options that integrate social and scientific techniques for a deeper understanding of the past.

This course allows you to discover archaeology for the first time, or deepen your existing knowledge. You will gain an effective grounding in archaeological practice and research, with the opportunity to study a suite of modules from prehistory to the medieval period. Alternatively you can opt to follow a focused pathway in Medieval Europe, enabling you to concentrate your studies on our specialised research areas through your dissertation, and core period modules.

You will also have access to advanced facilities including fully-equipped and dedicated laboratories for human skeletal remains and animal bone analysis, stable isotope analysis, microscopic suite (CAF) and an MA study room. Our analytical suite is extensive, allowing students to access a range of techniques for their research projects.

Our assessments are varied, providing a mix of vocational and research opportunities, including:

  • food diaries
  • poster and conference presentations
  • article critiques
  • essays
  • seminar presentations
  • skeletal and lab-based reports
  • in-class practical assessments

Class sizes are kept to a minimum but vary depending on the modules selected.

You may also have the opportunity to participate in staff research excavations in Europe (Crusades project), the Isle of Islay, or more locally at the famous Silchester Roman town excavation. 

Research in Archaeology is nurtured by world-class research clusters. These clusters provide an interdisciplinary environment for advancing social and scientific approaches to past communities and environments as well as issues of fundamental significance, including environmental change, health, diet, social diversity and inclusivity, and cultural heritage. We benefit from excellent resources for both humanities-based and science-based archaeological research, and have strong research links and collaborations with departments across the University and external institutions.

As part of your degree you can take an optional "Research and enterprise placement" module, during which you will be placed with a member of staff, or with a museum or archaeological unit such as the British Museum or Oxford Archaeology, to gain experience of working within an external commercial environment.

What will you study?

Compulsory modules (100 credits)

  • Dissertation
  • Theoretical approaches in archaeology 

Optional Modules (80 credits)

  • Our closest cousins? Archaeology of the Neanderthals 
  • Interpreting Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain 
  • Themes and approaches in the study of Mesopotamia 
  • The city of Rome 
  • Viking interactions in the west 
  • Colonisation and cultural transformation: the archaeology of crusading 
  • Zooarchaeology 
  • Coastal and maritime geoarchaeology 
  • Applications of micromorphological analysis 
  • Vegetation history and archaeobotany 
  • Statistical approaches: making sense of your data
  • Dark Age societies AD 400-1000 
  • Edge of the Pleistocene World 
  • Molluscan biostratigraphy 
  • Issues and debates in bioarchaeology 
  • Analysis of human remains 
  • Science and the dead
  • Hidden heritage: investment and interpretation of historic buildings and landscapes

Placement and Career Options

  • Archaeological graphics      
  • Research and enterprise placement  
  • Research and enterprise micro-placement 
  • International study – erasmus 

Please see our modules outline for further information.

Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.

What career can you have?

Our recent graduates have gone on to further study through funded PhD projects, as well as finding employment in professional archaeology, museums, publishing, journalism, radio and television, the heritage and leisure industries, the fields of conservation including the natural and built environment, government office, and teaching.

Visit the Archaeology MA page on the University of Reading website for more details!