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Urban Archaeology - MA

Course Description

The study of urbanisation is an increasingly important aspect of world archaeology and considers how cities have come to dominate human society and whether archaeology can contribute to the shaping of future cities. This MA aims to develop both critical theory and practical approaches in this vital field of academic research.

Degree information

Students will develop an advanced understanding of the significance of urbanism in the development of human society, and of important theoretical issues relevant to identities and institutions, cities and empire, and town planning and urban morphology. They also gain subject-specific skills, including recording and analysing complex stratigraphy and understanding archaeological archives.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

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

Core modules
-Approaches to Urban Archaeology: Themes and Concepts
-The Archaeology of Complex Urban Sites: Analytical and Interpretative Techniques
-Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Foundations
-London Within the Roman World: a Case Study in Urban Archaeology

Optional modules
-Applied Heritage Management
-Approaches to Artefact Studies
-Archaeology and Ethnicity
-Archaeological Approaches to the Human Use of Space
-Beyond Chiefdoms: Archaeologies of African Political Complexities
-Egyptian Landscapes: Archaeological Perspective
-Environmental Archaeology in Practice
-Geoarchaeology: Methods and Concepts I
-Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology I
-Geographic Information Systems in Archaeology II
-Interpreting Potter - Lecture and Practical
-Mediterranean World in the Iron Age
-Near Eastern Material Cultures I: Neolithic and Early Bronze age
-Near Eastern Material Cultures II: Middle bronze Age through the Iron Age
-Research Skills for Spatial Analysis
-Social Complexity in Early China: from the Neolithic to the Early Empire
-Spatial Analysis in Archaeology
-The Aegean from First Farmers to Minoan States
-The Late Bronze Age Aegean
-Zooarchaeology in Practice

An independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical sessions and structured reading. Assessment is through written and practical essays, oral examination and the dissertation.


The Urban Archaeology MA is a new programme from which only one small cohort of students has graduated. Some graduates have gone on to undertake PhD research, whilst others are working as archaeological consultants in professional practice.

Other career opportunities include policy and applied archaeology positions in national and international organisations, museums and professional archaeological units.

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Archaeology Intern, Crossrail / University College London (UCL)

The programme enables students to understand a wide range of theoretical and practical issues relevant to urban archaeology, which provide a sound basis for employment in many parts of the heritage sector. It also enables students to master a technical vocabulary to communicate with heritage professionals and agencies engaged in urban planning, development and archaeology. The programme develops strong transferable skills in written and oral communication, and in the approaches to complex urban archaeology. In balancing theory and practice, it will suit those wishing to continue to academic research and those seeking employment in archaeological organisations.

Why study this degree at UCL?

London is the most intensely studied archaeological site in the world.

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK. Institute staff have unparalleled expertise across both the chronological and geographic range of urbanism, and in approaches to handling complex urban data.

UCL is located in central London, within walking distance of the British Museum and the British Library. Students benefit from London's many museums, galleries and other archaeological spaces, but in particular have easy access to UCL's own museums and collections, which form a resource of international importance for academic research.

Visit the Urban Archaeology - MA page on the University College London website for more details!

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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