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Explore what it means to be human

Why choose this course?

If you’re interested in what it means to be human, where we came from and how humans developed and adapted, the MA/MSc in Early Prehistory is for you. You will work alongside the UK’s foremost academics in early prehistory to delve into the origins of humanity and explore the evolution of cultures, customs, religions, art and technology. The flexible nature of the course enables you to pursue your own particular interests.

The archaeology of human origins is a fascinating and dynamic area of research, with new evidence and theories constantly changing our interpretation of who we are. The work of staff and researchers on this course regularly gains media attention, with recent studies of Neanderthal children and the origins of compassion attracting widespread coverage.
-Explore the archaeology and approaches to human origins
-Work alongside internationally renowned specialists in early prehistoric archaeology and human evolution
-Work on pioneering studies with the potential for significant media exposure
-Gain ‘hands on’ experience of museum collections at the York Museum
-Visit Upper Palaeolithic rock art on a field trip to Creswell Crags
-Choose modules to support your own research interests
-Use the latest techniques and equipment to build key practical skills
-Receive advice on developing your career and research interests from knowledgeable staff

What does the course cover?
The course addresses fascinating questions such as: what makes us ‘human’? How did early human societies work? How different were Neanderthals from ourselves and why did they die out? What was life like in the Ice Age? We debate these questions and many others within a lively research environment as you build up your knowledge and experience of early prehistoric societies from three million to 5,000 years ago.

Who is it for?
This course is designed for anyone with an interest in human origins, human evolution and what defines us as a species. Most students taking the course have a degree in archaeology or a related subject. However, people with relevant experience or a passionate interest in the subject may also be admitted to the course.

What can it lead to?
This course does not lead directly to a specific vocation, but offers a broad range of essential skills and expertise, specialist knowledge and insight, which are relevant to a wide variety of careers or further study. Many of our students go on to pursue research at PhD level while others have taken up careers in heritage, conservation, the archaeology sector and academia.

Careers

By the end of your MA/MSc in Early Prehistory you will:
-Have developed an awareness of the scope of Early Prehistory and knowledge of key early prehistoric societies
-Be able to identify key transitions in human evolution
-Be aware of the issues of interpreting archaeological evidence for early prehistoric societies
-Have developed a critical understanding of the key debates in the period
-Have developed your ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays and producing projects
-Have undertaken a piece of independent research on a topic within early prehistory
-Have developed your presentational skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse themes

The skills, knowledge and insights gained on the course can provide a launchpad for a wide range of archaeological and heritage careers, as well as further study and research.

Course postgraduates have gone on to take up research degrees, academic posts and careers with prominent heritage, conservation and archaeological organisations.

Visit the Early Prehistory and Human Origins - MA/MSc page on the University of York website for more details!

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