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Environmental Archaeology (MSc)

Course Description

This course delivers advanced training in archaeology and the palaeoenvironment through study of the principles and methods of earth and biological sciences.

It provides students from a wide range of backgrounds with the skills needed for doctoral research, or employment by commercial andheritage organisations. This interdisciplinary course has bioarchaeology and geoarchaeology streams for those who wish to specialise, and provides advanced research skills, as well as the necessary knowledge to carry out environmental-based assessments, management and field projects. You will also have the opportunity to carry out a work or research placement in our commercial unit, Quest.

Programme Structure

You can take the MSc as either a one-year full-time degree, or part-time over two years. All taught modules are taken in the Autumn and Spring Terms from October to March. Dissertation research and writing takes place between April and September.

Core modules
Dissertation in Environmental Archaeology
Research Skills and Career Learning
Quantitative Methods in Environmental Archaeology
Issues and Debates in Environmental Archaeology
Field and Experimental Methods
Field Course: Earth Science and Archaeological Investigations in the Field

Geoarchaeology Options
Geochemistry in Quaternary Science and Archaeology
Applications of Micromorphological Analysis
Holocene Climate Change and Human Societies
Quaternary Climate Change
Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology
Geology and Sedimentology in Archaeology
Soils in Archaeology
The Edge of the Pleistocene World
Research and Enterprise Placement
Bioarchaeology Options
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
Mollusca in Archaeology and Quaternary Science
Archaeological Bone Chemistry
Human Bioarchaeology

Career Prospects

Our MSc aims to train you to the highest standards for doctoral study and professional employment.

Career opportunities are available in the University sector, and archaeological units, heritage organisations, environmental consultancies, local authorities, and research laboratories and organisations. Graduates are now working as advisors for various agencies including, most recently, Wessex Archaeology. QUEST (add link) run a Masters Graduate Internship (1 year), available each year for a student graduating from our taught postgraduate programmes. Students also have the opportunity to carry out a work or research placement in Quest as part of their degree. The interdisciplinary character of the course means that students from a wide range of backgrounds (archaeology, earth science, geography, plant science, Quaternary science and environmental science) can use it as a conversion course to move into the field of environmental archaeology.

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, 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 Environmental Archaeology (MSc) page on the University of Reading website for more details!

(Student Profile)


"My intention on leaving the course is to either pursue a PhD or work in Geoarchaeology. The MSc Environmental Archaeology course at Reading has provided me with an extensive list of practical (field and lab) and academic skills, allowing me to pursue either course successfully. As this degree has many practical aspects, e.g. field work experience, laboratory preparations, report writing, it has left me with many skills, including transferable skills such as time management to take into a workplace."

"The pastoral care, the willingness of lecturers to fully engage with students, whether it be in academic or personal support matters created a warm and friendly atmosphere conducive to further academic study. Fieldwork was an important aspect of the course, providing opportunity to explore themes and learn outside lectures."


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

First or good second-class honours degree or equivalent in Archaeology, Geology, Earth Sciences, Environmental Studies or related fields.

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