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Computational Archaeology: GIS, Data Science and Complexity - MSc

Course Description

Top archaeological researchers and heritage professionals use a raft of computational methods including GIS, data mining, web science, ABM, point-process modelling and network analysis. To impress employers you need the flexibility to learn on the job, leverage open data and program open source software. This MSc draws on UCL's unparalleled concentration of expertise to equip you for future research or significantly enhance your employability.

Degree information

Students learn about a wide range of concepts that underpin computational approaches to archaeology and human history. Students become proficient in the archaeological application of both commercial and open source GIS software and learn other practical skills such as programming, data-mining, advanced spatial analysis with R, and agent-based simulation.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core modules
-Archaeological Data Science
-Complexity, Space and Human History

Optional modules
-Agent-based Modelling of Human History
-Exploratory Data Analysis in Archaeology
-GIS Approaches to Past Landscapes
-GIS in Archaeology and History
-Remote Sensing
-Spatial Statistics, Network Analysis and Human History
-The Archaeology of Complex Urban Sites: Analytical and Interpretative Technology
-Web and Mobile GIS (by arrangement with the UCL Department of Civil and Geomatic Engineering
-Other options available within the UCL Institute of Archaeology

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through lectures, tutorials and practical sessions. Careful provision is made to facilitate remote access to software, tutorials, datasets and readings through a combination of dedicated websites and virtual learning environments. Assessment is through essays, practical components, project reports and portfolio, and the research dissertation.


Approximately one third of graduates of the programme have gone on to do PhDs at universities such as Cambridge, Leiden, McGill, Thessaloniki and Washington State. Of these, some continue to pursue GIS and/or spatial analysis techniques as a core research interest, while others use the skills and inferential rigour they acquired during their Master's as a platform for more wide-ranging doctoral research. Other graduates have gone to work in a range of archaeological and non-archaeological organisations worldwide. These include specialist careers in national governmental or heritage organisations, commercial archaeological units, planning departments, utility companies and consultancies.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Database Administrator, Deloitte
-Data Science Analyst, M2M
-Graphical Information Systems (GIS) Technician, BSG Ecology

This degree offers a considerable range of transferable practical skills as well as instilling a more general inferential rigour which is attractive to almost any potential employer. Graduates will be comfortable with a wide range of web-based, database-led, statistical and cartographic tasks. They will be able to operate both commercial and oper source software, will be able to think clearly about both scientific and humanities-led issues, and will have a demonstrable track record of both individual research and group-based collaboration.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The teaching staff bring together a range and depth of expertise that enables students to develop specialisms including industry-standard and open-source GIS, advanced spatial and temporal statistics, computer simulation, geophysical prospection techniques and digital topographic survey.

Most practical classes are held in the institute's Archaeological Computing and GIS laboratory. This laboratory contains two Linux servers, ten powerful workstations running Microsoft Windows 7, a digitising table and map scanner.

Students benefit from the collaborations we have established with other institutions and GIS specialists in Canada, Germany, Italy and Greece together with several commercial archaeological units in the UK.

Visit the Computational Archaeology: GIS, Data Science and Complexity - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

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 a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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