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Course content

Study at the cutting edge of post-medieval archaeological investigation.

Why choose this course?

Historical Archaeology is the study of relatively recent documented periods, from the end of the Middle Ages to the 21st century. It is one of the most rapidly expanding aspects of archaeology, dealing with many exciting issues that relate directly to the world we have inherited today, drawing on a diverse range of material and documentary sources.

The skills you develop working with material culture, landscapes and archival sources, as well as presenting short papers and writing essays and your dissertation, will provide an unrivalled insight into the past and present and prepare you for a wide range of jobs and careers, as well as further research.
-Explore dynamic and globally significant themes, from capitalism to colonialism.
-Gain practical training in analysing and interpreting evidence, from excavations and standing buildings to landscapes and material culture.
-Develop knowledge and skills that will give you a head start in many heritage, historic-environment and other post-graduate careers and research.
-Study in the archaeological capital of Britain – experience historical archaeology in action.
-Access state-of-the-art facilities, including laboratories, libraries and internationally important archives, resources and collections in York.
-Receive career and research advice and guidance from staff with significant professional knowledge and experience.

What does the course cover?
The MA in Historical Archaeology examines themes such as the development of consumption and capitalism, colonialism and globalisation from British and international perspectives. It builds out from the unique experience of Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to consider the global impact of changing economic, political and cultural values as the modern world took shape.

We examine data sources including excavated material alongside material culture from museums and collections, standing buildings, landscapes and documentary sources of all kinds, which relate to both the UK, its former colonies and the wider world.

Who is it for?
This course is ideally suited for students from a wide range of backgrounds, which need not necessarily include Archaeology. The course appeals to anyone interested in the material culture and landscapes of the post-medieval period. Past students have included graduates of History, Art History, Heritage, English Literature and many more subjects, as well as mid-career professionals looking to enhance their knowledge, expertise and qualifications.

What can it lead to?
The course provides you with highly valued and transferrable skills, knowledge and experience essential for a wide variety of careers. Many students go on to further study or take up employment with a range of organisations both within and outside the heritage sector, including the civil service and law firms, heritage consultancies and museums.


This course will give you a thorough grounding in the rapidly growing field of Historical Archaeology and equip you with valuable skills and experience for a career in this and related fields. It also provides valuable transferable skills which are recognised across a wide range of professional graduate careers.

By the end of the course you will:
-Be familiar with current research agendas and a broad range of issues in historical archaeology.
-Have detailed knowledge of topics and themes using material from Britain, Europe, North America, Africa and the Caribbean.
-Have developed key skills to organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner in written form and in presentations.
-Have undertaken an extended piece of independent research on a topic of your choice in the field of historical archaeology.
-Have delivered a short lecture on a chosen topic in historical archaeology.

Course postgraduates have gone on to work with many organisations, including landscape and environmental consultancies, professional bodies, heritage organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust, the media and museums.

Others have used the skills gained to pursue careers in other sectors, including:
-Local government and development
-Civil service and law
-Chartered surveying
-Computing and IT services
-Business and administration
-Marketing and public relations
-Accountancy and financial services

Others have gone on to pursue PhDs in the UK and overseas.

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




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