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Artefact Studies - MA

Course Description

This MA provides training in the documentation and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. Students benefit from a placement within a museum or an archaeological unit where experience will be gained in the practice of finds analysis.

Degree information

Students are introduced to the skills of finds specialists, practical issues of artefact study, and debates about the collection, interpretation, reporting and curation of archaeological materials. They develop the ability to evaluate different approaches to artefact studies and undertake the cataloguing and analysis of an artefact assemblage.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (30 credits), four optional modules (60 credits), an optional work placement and a research project (90 credits).

Core modules - all students are required to take the following:
-Working with artefacts and assemblages
-Technology within Society

Optional modules - students choose to follow further optional modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Master's options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. For this degree, some of the most popular choices include:
-Antiquities and the Law
-Archaeological Ceramic Analysis
-Archaeological Glass and Glazes
-Archaeometallurgy I: Mining and Extractive Metallurgy
-Archaeometallurgy II: Metallic Artefacts
-Art: Interpretation and Explanation
-British and European Prehistory: Neolithic to Iron Age
-Experimental Archaeology
-Funerary Archaeology
-Intangible Dimensions of Museum Objects from Egypt
-Interpreting Pottery
-Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art
-Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art
-Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis

The 15,000–word dissertation normally combines a professional standard finds report with an academic overview.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through formal lectures, seminars and practical sessions. It can include a placement at a relevant museum or archaeological unit where students gain experience in the practical study and the recording of an artefact assemblage. Assessment is through an essay, a portfolio, a project proposal and the dissertation.


Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to PhD studies while others have pursued a very wide range of professional careers both within and beyond archaeology. The main career path is working as assistants, museum curators or working in the antiquities service recording finds.

Top career destinations for this degree
-Project Team Officer, English Heritage
-Archaeologist, Museum of London Archaeology
-Museum Building Manager, Hainan and Haopioen Arts Museum
-Artefacts Assistant, Maidstone Council
-Freelance Numismatist, Self-Employed Numismatist

The degree is tailored to give graduates a solid grounding in systematically recording and documenting artefacts as well as analysing artefact assemblage. They will also have a basic understanding of creating graphs and diagrams, and analysing and assembling finds-catalogues. Without concentrating on any specific epoch, we give students the tools for understanding and systematically analysing any artefact assemblages.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Whether you plan a career as finds assistant, museum curator or plan a materials based PhD, this course provides you with the skills you need to successfully identify, describe and document artefacts and analyse assemblages. The emphasis of the course is very much on practical application, so there will be numerous handling sessions and praxis-related tasks.

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. Its outstanding archaeological library is complemented by UCL's Main Library, University of London Senate House and other specialist libraries. 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. Students will work on material from the institute's collection as part of their assessment. Past students on this programme have made effective use of the resources at the British Museum, the Museum of London and the Museum of London archives, the Petrie Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and other British and international museums. The Wolfson Labs provide a unique facility for scientific analyses of materials and have been used by numerous artefact students for their dissertations after the required training.

Visit the Artefact Studies - MA page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - 5 Awards

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), and UK universities, to support scholarships for students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.The aim of the scheme is to assist students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the United Kingdom. The scheme allows them to benefit from postgraduate study at a university in the United Kingdom which will help them to contribute toward the development of their home countries.Awards are for taught Master's programmes only, subjects must be related to the economic, social and technological development of a candidate's country. UCL expects to be able to allocate five awards this academic year.Applicants must:
- Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
- Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;
- Be sufficiently fluent in English to pursue the programme;
- Have not previously studied for one year or more in a developed country;
- Not be employed by a government department (at national level) or a parastatal organisation (employees of universities are normally acceptable);
- Be themselves, or through families, unable to pay for the proposed programme of study in the UK;
- Be willing to confirm that they will return to their home country as soon as their period of study is complete.Value, Benefits and Duration
- The award will cover tuition fees, a maintenance allowance, economy air travel to and from the UK at the beginning and end of the scholar’s degree programme plus additional discretionary allowances.
- Awards are normally tenable for one year.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)


Be nationals of (or permanently domiciled in) a Commonwealth developing country, and not currently be living or studying in a developed country (please see the CSSS information booklet for a list of eligible countries);
Hold a first degree at either first- or upper second-class level;

Application Procedure

You must apply for the scholarship on the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online following the procedures described on their website.
In order to be considered for this scholarship at UCL, you must complete the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission Electronic Application System (EAS) online: by the deadline of T23:59 (UCT) Sunday, 21 February 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in archaeology or related subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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