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Course content

Highly respected qualification in buildings archaeology.

Why choose this course?

Established more than 15 years ago, this course is one of the longest-established and most respected buildings archaeology and buildings history programmes in the UK. It brings together experts in buildings survey and recording, archive research, legislation and policy, conservation, theoretical interpretation and computer modelling to deliver a dynamic course, which will equip you with the specialist skills and knowledge required for a career in researching, managing and conserving historic buildings.
-Learn the specialised skills required for researching, analysing and recording historic buildings.
-Gain experience in rectified photography, photogrammetry and other 3D recording methods, CAD drawing and computer modelling of historic buildings.
-Develop the knowledge and skills essential for careers in the architectural and archaeological sectors.
-Study in the cultural heritage capital of the UK – experience buildings archaeology in action.
-Access state-of-the-art facilities, including survey support, archives and libraries.
-Receive careers advice from staff with significant experience of recruiting within the sector.

York is one of the best places to study Archaeology, Heritage or Conservation. The Department has an excellent reputation and is one of the largest Archaeology teaching centres in the UK. The historic City of York is rich in architectural and archaeological treasures and resources which you will have easy access to during your studies.

What does the course cover?

The MA in the Archaeology of Buildings is designed to train students in the systematic research, recording, analysis and interpretation of historic buildings.

Through a combination of academic studies, practical training and research projects, the course will:
-Introduce the specialised skills required for the historical research, visual analysis and archaeological recording of buildings.
-Give you a foundational knowledge of the history of architecture in the UK, from c.1000 to the present day.
-Introduce you to current intellectual and professional research priorities in the archaeology of buildings.
-Introduce you to conservation legislation, policy and practice.
-Enable you to develop excellent research and communication skills relating to the research, analysis and interpretation of historic buildings.

Who is it for?

This course is suitable for students of Archaeology, History of Art, Architectural History and related subjects, as well as for mid-career professionals seeking to develop or enhance their professional specialism in buildings archaeology.

What can it lead to?

The discipline of buildings archaeology has grown in confidence, with new theoretical and methodological developments allowing archaeologists to record, date, model and present research in exciting new ways. There is significant demand for buildings archaeology professionals in the commercial sector and in national and local heritage organisations.

Course alumni have successfully launched careers in key roles with organisations across the heritage sector, including English Heritage, National Trust, Historic Scotland and Historic Royal Palaces, as well as with local authorities and conservation bodies, conservation architects, archaeological units and commercial developers.


Work placements provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience of working in the professional buildings sector. Your placement will draw on and contribute to the knowledge and experience you have gained on your taught courses, while enabling you to develop new insights, understanding and expertise in buildings archaeology that will be extremely valuable in future employment.

-To provide students with experience of buildings archaeology in a professional working environment.
-To consolidate students’ knowledge and understanding of buildings archaeology procedures and issues gained from the taught modules.

Learning outcomes
Upon completing these placements you should have:
-Gained experience and knowledge of how building recording and research inform conservation and heritage practice, under the guidance of experienced professionals.
-Developed experience in practical applications, facilitating critical reflection on the theoretical and philosophical issues raised in both core modules.

Placement providers
Although the organisations offering placements change from year to year, according to availability, the following list is a good indication of the choices likely to be available:
-English Heritage
-National Trust
-Council for British Archaeology
-York Civic Trust
-West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
-The Churches Conservation Trust
-Purcell Architects
-Quercus Design
-City of York Council
-Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
-York Archaeological Trust
-Cathedral and Church Buildings Division


The MA in the Archaeology of Buildings offers practical skills and research training that provide excellent preparation for a range of careers. By the end of the course you will be able to:
-Record and analyse structures of all types, selecting a level of record appropriate to the end use.
-Execute hand, metric and photographic surveys and present the results in hand drawings, photographs and CAD.
-Recognise and apply the principles of structural analysis to elucidate a building’s history.
-Draw on a sound knowledge of British architectural history and, where appropriate, that of other countries.
-Carry out research using a wide range of archival sources on buildings in the UK and integrate these critically and effectively into the interpretation of buildings.
-Discuss and debate current research agendas in buildings archaeology.
-Direct your own independent work, and also interact with others as a member of a recording or conservation team.
-Communicate the results of research effectively through oral, written and graphic forms of presentation.

Alumni from the course have been employed in a range of commercial and heritage organisations across the UK, including:
-Field Archaeology Specialists (FAS Heritage)
-Oxford Archaeology
-URS Corporation
-Purcell Architects
-AOC Archaeology Group
-Pre-Construct Archaeology
-Headland Archaeology
-Arc Heritage
-York Archaeological trust
-English Heritage
-National Trust
-Historic Scotland
-Historic Royal Palaces
-West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
-MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)

Others have been employed as freelance building archaeologists, local authority conservation officers and museum professionals.

Visit the Archaeology of Buildings - MA/PGDip/PGcert page on the University of York website for more details!




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