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Archaeology (Bioarchaeology) (MA)

Course Description

Set within the MA Archaeology programme, you will take a core bioarchaeology module and related options, which prepare you for your Dissertation and beyond.

Scientific approaches are growing in importance in our efforts to engage with complex archaeological questions. You will have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and interpretation of the past. Thematic options introduce you to theoretical issues such as gender and the life course, childhood, migration, diet and health.

Why Reading?

By choosing this course you will become part of a department with one of the largest concentrations of medieval archaeologists in the world. The programme offers the broadest diversity of postgraduate teaching in the UK, encompassing the full extent of the Middle Ages (400–1600 AD) in northern, central and eastern Europe. You will be joining a department ranked top in the UK for world-class research outputs (REF 2014). You will be welcomed in to a department where research, teaching and professional training are provided by researchers with an international expertise on a programme which will increase your employability.

Programme Structure

The programme is made up of both compulsory (90 credits) and optional modules (90 credits). Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology (10 credits) is recommended for those with no prior knowledge in this area. On this Specialist Pathway you need to complete the compulsory module (10 credits) and choose at least two options from the specific pathway options list (40 credits). The Dissertation should be in a subject related to the Specialist Pathway. Students are required to take a total of 180 credits.
Our current modules are:

Compulsory Modules
Dissertation 80
Themes and Debates in Bioarchaeology 10
Research Skills and Career Learning 10

Bioarchaeology Options (take 2 at 20 credits each)
Human Bioarchaeology
Food and Culture
Archaeological Bone Chemistry
Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology
Applications of Micromorphological Analysis
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

Optional Modules (you may select 40 credits from any of these options)
Thematic Options
The Edge of the Pleistocene World (20)
Interpreting Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain (20)
Material Cultures and Identities in the Roman Empire (20)
From Village to Metropolis: Understanding the urban phenomenon of Ancient Rome (20)
Celtic, Roman and Provincial Coinage (20)
Themes and Issues in the Archaeology of Iran (20)
The Archaeology of Early Turkey (20)
Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia (20)
Climate Change and Human Communities (20)
Dark Age Societies AD400-1000 (20)
Viking Interactions in the West (20)
Encountering the Twelfth Century (20)
Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the archaeology of crusading (20)
Medieval Landscapes (10 or 20)
Analysing Medieval Townscapes (20)
International study (20)
Medieval Latin and Palaeography (20)
Special Topic (Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies) (20)

Skills-Based Options
Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology (10)
Archaeological Graphics (10)
Introduction to Human Bioarchaeology (10)
Introduction to Zooarchaeology (10)
Introduction to Applications of Micromorphological Analysis (10)
Research and Enterprise Micro-placement
Or ONE Language option with the IWLP (20)

Visit the Archaeology (Bioarchaeology) (MA) page on the University of Reading website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Aleisha Bailey

"The course précis emphasised a focus on inter-disciplinary research, which interested me as I was going to be new to studying archaeology. The opportunity to combine different approaches to studying the past, and to work with people from different disciplines, appealed to me as a way to further my academic career. The best element of the course was being able to visit medieval sites around Reading. As an international student, this was a fantastic way to immerse myself in the period and see parts of England I would not have known about otherwise. The osteology laboratory in the Allen Lab was a great facility when I undertook the module on human bioarchaeology. The collection held by the University of Reading archaeology department was impressive and gave me the opportunity to work with remains from different time periods – each student worked on remains from a large cemetery and from different eras.

After the course, I wanted to be able to draw on my strengthened research and analytical skills. Writing the dissertation gave me the opportunity to work on researching and writing a longer piece of work and develop my arguments more than I would have in an essay. I am now working as a researcher and writer for the Australian Parliament, where I draw on my writing skills and my ability to analyse large amounts of information in order to draw out the narrative – skills I was able to develop at the University of Reading."


SAGES International Scholarship - 5 Awards

The School (SAGES) are offering International Postgraduate Scholarships worth £5000 to the strongest international applicants and the first recipients will be selected in April 2016. Scholarships are made in the form of a fee reduction.

Value of Scholarship(s)



• Applicants must hold an offer of a place from the School
• Awards are made based on merit demonstrated by the application
• Awards are available to part-time students as a one-off award of £5000
• Awards are not available for PGCert or PGDip
• Recipients of the award are required to accept their place within two-weeks of the offer
• The Overseas Deposit must normally be paid by the deadline set by the University, or the award will be revoked
• Students in receipt of the Scholarship may be asked to contribute to the School while at Reading

Application Procedure

Please register your interest in being considered for a Scholarship on your application.

Entry Requirements

A good Honours degree, usually 2.2 or higher in Archaeology, anthropology or other related fields, or an International equivalent such as GPA of 3.0 or above. Students with little or no background in archaeological theory are required to take a module in this subject

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