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Course content

The Research Master’s programme in Archaeology is the most diverse in the Netherlands. Benefit from our extensive experience and reputation in archaeological research.

Choose Archaeology at Leiden University:

Our research master's programme offers interesting regional and thematic specialisation possibilities. It stimulates extra-talented and motivated students by exposing them to cutting edge research and making them part of it.

The programme helps you to find your own place in the wide world of archaeological careers, and equips you with all the 21st century professional and transferable skills you need.

Our research facilities and labs, field schools and excavation projects, experimental archaeology projects and the national research schools (ARCHON, OIKOS) offer excellent opportunities for every prospective researcher.

Research possibilities in 2018-2019:

Human Origins

Australopithecus africanus, one of our many ancestors

Interdisciplinary studies of the human past

This programme provides an in-depth interdisciplinary introduction in the European Palaeolithic record and its wider setting, from the Early Pleistocene to the Late Pleistocene.

  • Study the archaeology of Prehistoric hunter-gatherers, from the earliest stone tools in East Africa, 2.6 million years old, to the end of the last ice age.
  • Focus on Neanderthal behaviour, and explore research questions, methods of analysis and theoretical perspectives in Palaeolithic archaeology.

Prehistoric Farming Communities

A view of past communities

The programme aims to develop a detailed and coherent view of past communities.

  • Focus on the later prehistory of Europe, especially on communities bordering the North Sea (Scandinavia, the Low Countries, France, Great Britain and Ireland).
  • Explore research topics such as Beaker cultures and settlements of the Bronze and Iron Ages, cultural identity, and burial ritual and (selective) deposition.

Town and Country in the Mediterranean Region and the Near East

The cradle of civilisation

This programme focuses on a region that has enormous culture-historical significance, and is a cradle of civilisation from Prehistory up to the Early Medieval period.

  • Study various key developments, such as the origins of farming and sedentary life, as well as the emergence of complex urbanised societies and writing, as they occurred first in this region and spread subsequently.
  • Participate in current research projects. These projects focus on the Near East (modern Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey) and Egypt, as well as the Mediterranean.

Religion and Society in Native American Cultures

Leiden Archaeology researchers used high-tech imaging to reveal rare precolonial Mexican manuscript hidden from view for 500 years

Study the past in connection to the present

The programme offers an interdisciplinary context, where archaeology, anthropology, sciences, history, linguistics, landscape and heritage studies come together.

  • Gain a broad knowledge of and deep insight into Native American cultural history, focusing on the relationships between religious worldview and social agency.
  • Participate in field schools related to long-term research projects, such as excavations in the Caribbean or Nicaragua,including studies of material culture and physical anthropology.

Bioarchaeology

Fragments of a sabre-toothed cat skull where recenty excavated

Combine archaeology with hard science

Discover our four research disciplines, together covering an extensive geographical area and time range.

  • Opt for Archaeobotany and investigate changes in vegetation and environment during the past 2.6 million years, as well as the taphonomy of plant macrofossils in lacustrine and fluvial depositional settings.
  • Focus on Archaeo/Palaeozoology and dive into Eurasia in the period from the Early Pleistocene to the Holocene. Biostratigraphical studies, palaeo-ecological studies, as well as taphonomical studies are carried out.
  • Study Human Osteoarchaeology and analyse human remains from international archaeology contexts as well as behavioural and social facets of mortuary practices in past societies.
  • Explore Isope Archaeology and work on the analysis and interpretation of stable isotopes of human and faunal remains from archaeological contexts. Learn how to carry out dating projects, including radiocarbon dating as well as other dating methods.

Archaeological Heritage in a Globalising World

A new and exciting interdisciplinary approach

The programme focuses on the role of the past in the present. Explore the various aspects of recent developments in international politics, cultural tourism, the use of social media, and the revitalisation of local traditions and regional identities.

  • Develop the practical skills to translate academic research and social knowledge into strategies for heritage management, and pursue individual initiatives.
  • Benefit from our close association with the Center for Global Heritage and Development, an interdisciplinary cooperation between three high-ranking universities: Leiden University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Delft Technical University. This allows for a partnership between archaeology, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences.

The Transformation of the Roman World

Europe on the starting blocks

This programme offers an introduction to advanced studies of Europe and the Mediterranean in Late Roman and Post-Roman times (c. 300-900 AD).

  • Analyse the economic recovery of North-Western Europe in Merovingian and Carolingian times, exchange networks in the Mediterranean, and agrarian innovation and water management in Jordan.
  • Study burial sites, the fate of Roman towns in the early Middle Ages, and centres of Christianity.

Master of Arts or Master of Science

Students who choose the Bioarchaeology track receive a Master of Science degree in Archaeology. For the other research tracks you receive a Master of Arts degree in Archaeology.


Visit the MA Archaeology (research) page on the Leiden University website for more details!

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