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Royal Agricultural University: MSc Archaeology

Institution Royal Agricultural University View institution profile
Department Cultural Heritage Institute
Telephone 01285 889912
Study type Taught


Archaeology is not only the study of the past, it is the study of ourselves. Archaeology feeds into current political debates around identity, how we feel about our past, and who we want to be. Large infrastructure projects also ensure it is a profession in increasing demand. From site assistants, to managers, finds specialists and consultants, archaeology is a rewarding and challenging career, requiring a wide and varied range of skills and knowledge.

Course overview The RAU has been at the forefront of land-based education for more than 180 years, and to study archaeology here is a natural choice. The programme is taught in the Cultural Heritage Institute, the RAU’s Swindon campus and the ‘heritage’ capital of England, home to the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic England. It provides unparalleled opportunities to work with key heritage agencies and to gain professional insights.

The MSc in Archaeology is designed to give learners a broad and thorough grounding in the challenging and fast-paced archaeology sector. It will equip you with the wider contextual and practical skills to allow you to engage analytically with a variety of archaeological sites and materials. As the course progresses, you will be able to follow your developing interests and tailor the direction of your assessed learning to pursue a variety of archaeology careers, from finds specialist to standing buildings archaeologist, from landscape characterisation to geophysics practitioner. This MSc provides a more flexible pathway into archaeology, ideal for those who have a particular specialism or area of interest they would like to build upon, or those who wish to gain a broad range of experiences across the sector.

Course content This programme has specifically been designed to meet the needs of postgraduate learners many of whom may be combining study with work and/or caring or other responsibilities. Teaching is designed to be fully flexible, to allow full participation for both part-time and full-time students.

All sessions are offered in a blended format and you can choose whether to attend any session in-person or to participate remotely, as best suits your needs. All sessions, including practical workshops and (where possible) field trips, are recorded live and made immediately available for viewing to support those who prefer to access the sessions asynchronously.

Our sessions are built around exercises to support and scaffold the learning process, and to provide valuable opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. Material is taught in workshop format combining formal elements, such as lectures, with more hands-on exploratory or consolidatory exercises, for example discussions, ‘live’ group research to explore or apply a particular concept, group-critique sessions, supported writing exercises, and problem-based learning.

Course structure The programme consists of seven taught modules and a dissertation project.

The taught modules include three which are a compulsory core and four selected from a further four options. Assessments are very varied but all involve different forms of course work.

In addition to the taught modules you will produce an academic dissertation focusing on a particular research topic of interest to you. Your dissertation allows you to showcase the skills acquired and can provide springboard to further research or employment.

Careers and graduate destinations This programme will help learners develop an in-depth and applied understanding of archaeological practice enabling graduates to pursue a wide range of careers in the sector. On completion of the course you will be able to work in commercial archaeology at any of the numerous commercial units, built environment management, planning, regeneration projects, heritage organisations such as Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust, heritage site interpretation archaeological outreach and education, or as self-employed archaeology consultants.


Royal Agricultural University





About the Royal Agricultural University

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has been at the forefront of agricultural education and a key contributor to the land-based sector for more than 175 years.

We combine knowledge and industry connections with an innovative, forward-thinking approach that continues to open doors for our graduates.

Set in 25-acres of picturesque green grounds in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, the University has over 1,100 students and offers many programmes at postgraduate level.

Alongside access to arable and dairy farms and an equine centre, students also benefit from an award-winning Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programme and Farm491 – RAU’s agritech business …

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