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Archaeology (MA)

Course Description

This MA allows you to develop and enhance your knowledge of archaeology through a selection of specialist modules that suit your chronological, geographical and thematic interests.

This MA is designed for you to develop and enhance your knowledge of archaeology through a selection of specialist modules that suit your chronological, geographical and thematic interests. Within this course, you may take a series of modules covering the Palaeolithic to the later medieval periods, and be awarded an MA Archaeology. Alternatively, you may elect to take modules and focus your dissertation within one of our specialist pathways, and be awarded a degree entitled: MA Archaeology (Medieval Europe); MA Archaeology (Middle East); MA Archaeology (Bioarchaeology).

Established in 1982, MA Archaeology provides the flexibility and choice for you to both deepen your existing archaeological knowledge, and to take it in new directions. Our thematic and skills-based modules cover theoretical issues such as the life course, material culture, identity, landscapes, diet and health, and past climate change. The MA at the University of Reading is designed to allow you to develop and enhance your knowledge of archaeology through a selection of specialist modules that suit your chronological, geographical and thematic interests. Our taught modules span the lower Palaeolithic to later medieval periods throughout Europe and the Near East, covering theoretical issues such as gender, the life course, material culture, identity, diet, the Crusades, climate change, coastal and maritime exploitation and human bioarchaeology.

See the website http://www.reading.ac.uk/ready-to-study/study/subject-area/archaeology-pg/ma-archaeology.aspx

Why Reading?

By choosing the MA at Reading you will become part of a world-leading department that has an international reputation for its teaching and research in a wide range of aspects of Prehistoric, Roman and medieval archaeology; and environmental archaeology and bioarchaeology. You will be joining a department ranked top in the UK for world-class research outputs (REF 2014) with leadership in Teaching and Enterprise recognised by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. You will be welcomed in to a department where research, teaching and professional training are provided by staff with an international reputation, on a programme which will increase your employability.

Programme Structure

The MA Archaeology gives an effective grounding in archaeological practice and research, with the opportunity to study a suite of thematic and skills-based modules from prehistory to the medieval period. Alternatively you may opt to follow specialised ‘pathway’ in MA Archaeology (Medieval Europe), MA Archaeology (Bioarchaeology) or MA Archaeology (Middle East)

Core Modules
Research Skills and Careers Learning

Technical Options Include
Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology
Archaeological Graphics
The Medieval Landscape
An Introduction to Human Bioarchaeology
An Introduction to Archaeozoology
Research and Enterprise Micro-placement

Specialist Options include:
Old World Archaeology
The Edge of the Pleistocene World: the lower Palaeolithic archaeology of north-west Europe
Themes and Issues in the Archaeology of Iran
Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia
Interpreting the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Britain
Climate Change and Human Societies
Research and Enterprise Placement

Roman Archaeology
Material Cultures and Identities in the Roman Empire
Celtic, Roman and Provincial Coinage

Medieval European Archaeology
Dark Age Societies AD400-1000
Viking Interactions in the West
Encountering the Twelfth Century
Material Lives: medieval objects in everyday use
Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the archaeology of crusading
Medieval European Landscapes

Human Bioarchaeology
Food and Culture
Archaeological Bone Chemistry

Environmental Archaeology
Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology
Applications of Micromorphological Analysis
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

Career Prospects

This course provides an excellent foundation for those wishing to pursue further research at doctoral level as well as those wanting to enter archaeology as a profession, including field archaeology, museums and heritage management. Our graduates have become field archaeologists or museum and heritage managers. Others have chosen careers where a trained and analytical mind is more important than a specific degree subject, such as in the arts, media, management, administration, the civil service, local government, law, publishing, librarianship and teaching.

Many of our postgraduates go on to full-time graduate-level employment within archaeology and related consultancies or units, but also within museums and government agencies. Up to one-third continue their academic career through doctoral research.

In recent years, University of Reading postgraduate students have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies (e.g. English Heritage, National Trust) and universities, including Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Cork, Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, London, Newcastle and Reading.


We offer advanced study in archaeology on courses taught by academics with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research.

Join our lively and welcoming Department situated on a beautiful, award-winning green campus. Take advantage of outstanding teaching collections and facilities housed in modern premises.

We are skills focused – through our world-leading fieldwork and research projects we train graduates to the highest standards as a preparation for doctoral study and professional employment. We provide a strong research grounding linking social and scientific archaeology.

Visit the Archaeology (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

Normally a first or good second-class honours degree or equivalent in Archaeology or other relevant fields. Students with little or no background in archaeological theory are required to take a module in this subject.

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