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Course content

The Comparative Art and Archaeology MA at UCL is a wide-ranging and challenging programme designed to provide students with a sophisticated understanding of the major problems, theories and approaches in the sociological and anthropological interpretation of the art of pre-modern societies.

Degree information

Students are encouraged to think critically and work independently in a broadly comparative perspective across the boundaries of regional and period specialisation which have traditionally characterised the study of art. They develop subject-specific, research-oriented skills relevant to their development as practising analysts within the history, anthropology or archaeology of art.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

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

Core modules - all students are required to take the following:
-Art: Interpretation and Explanation

Optional modules - students choose to follow further optional modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Master's module options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. For this degree the most popular choices include:
-Ancient Italy in the Mediterranean
-Archaeology of Buddhism
-Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East: a Comparative Approach
-Aztec Archaeology: Codices and Ethnohistory
-Cities, States and Religion in Ancient India
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art
-Maya Art, Architecture and Archaeology
-Social Complexity in Early China: from the Neolithic to the Early Empire
-Technology in Society: archaeology and ethnography in the Andes
-The Mediterranean World in the Iron Age
-The Transformation of the Roman Mediterranean

All MA 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 seminars, lectures and presentations. Some optional modules include site visits to museums. Assessment is through essays, coursework, oral examination and the dissertation.


Some recent graduates of the programme have progressed to PhD studies while others have developed careers in museums, other professional cultural heritage organisations, as well as art and archaeology-related publishing and television. A high level of success has been achieved by students going on to fully funded PhD research at the University of Oxford, UCL, University of California Berkeley, and Stanford, funded by the AHRC, the Chilean government, Japanese Government, UCL, and the Ministry of Education of Taiwan. Other students have secured positions in the museums and heritage sector, for example at the Petrie Museum at UCL and the Museum for Asian Civilizations in Singapore.

Top career destinations for this degree
-Administrative Assistant, Christie's
-Documentary Maker, Developing a Professional Portfolio (Documentary Film)

Successful graduates will have been fully prepared to undertake research on the art history and archaeology of early civilizations, from a comparative or region/period/theme-specific perspective, and will also possess the expert background knowledge to move on to related professional work in art history, archaeology and cultural heritage (subject to the particular requirements of a given position).

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK, and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study.

We are international in outlook, with students and staff from over 40 countries, and involvement in field research projects around the globe. The teaching staff for this programme bring together a range and depth of expertise that is arguably unparalleled at other institutions.

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

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






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