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Through imaginative teaching and world-leading research, we inspire our students to explore.

Course description

The study of material artefacts is vital to our understanding of craft production, use and trade in ancient and historic societies.

You choose one of three pathways: Experimental Archaeology, Materials and Technological Analysis, and Material Culture Studies. The latter gives you the option of a work placement where you can focus on a subject, technique or form that interests you. 

Each pathway has a different emphasis which is reflected in the compulsory modules. Through optional modules, you can choose to engage with particular historic periods, theory, ethnographic case studies, and different approaches to material culture.

Lectures, seminars and presentations are complemented by practical work – in the laboratory and in the field, so you develop the skill set you need to work with archaeological material. For your dissertation, you’ll work on a project on a particular aspect of material culture.

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This programme provides the choice of three pathways to explore archaeological materials, artefacts and technology;experimental archaeology, analysis of archaeological materials, or material culture studies.

Each pathway provides a different emphasis on the study of material artefacts found in the archaeological record in order to explore craft production, use and trade in ancient and historic societies; this is reflected in the core modules for each. Students may also choose from a variety of modules which engage with theory, ethnographic case studies and experimental and analytical approaches to material culture or to historic periods of interest.

Teaching is through lectures, seminars, presentations, and practical work in the field and laboratory, providing students with the necessary research and vocational skills to work with archaeological material. In the final semester students can specialise and work on a novel project on a particular aspect of material culture for their dissertation.

Those on the MA Material Culture Studies stream can opt to undertake a placement, working alongside practitioners in a professional setting, and get consolidated hands on experience in a subject/technique/form of material culture of particular interest to them.


The programme has been created to work as three specialist streams, your preferred option will be discussed during your induction week when you elect your modules.

MA Cultural Materials (Materials and Technological Analysis)

You will take:

And a 30 credit module from the Department of Archaeology or from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

MA Cultural Materials (Experimental Archaeology)

You will take:

And a 30 credit module from the Department of Archaeology or from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

MA Cultural Materials (Material Culture Studies)

You will take:

And one from these two:

And one from this group:

And modules to the value of 75 credits from the Department of Archaeology and from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

A list of Department of Archaeology modules can be viewed here. Full programme specifications are also available.

*While the majority of dissertation projects do not involve any additional cost to the student, you may incur some expenses if you choose a topic that is not resourced by the department. You will be expected to cover the cost of printing and binding two copies of your dissertation/placement report.

**Depending on a student's choice of placement, this may involve additional travel or other costs.


You can expect a balanced timetable of lectures, seminars and practicals. You’ll have access to specialist labs and world-class reference collections. Many of our masters courses include a fieldwork or project-based component.

We integrate humanities and science-based approaches to nurture a deeper understanding. You’ll have the opportunity to explore different viewpoints and make up your own mind about their strengths and weaknesses.

We’ll help you to develop your critical thinking as well as your practical skills. What we ask of you, as a member of our lively academic community, is that you challenge, question, and explore.

Visit the MA Cultural Materials page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!






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