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Masters Degree in Archaeology

Although earning an undergraduate degree in archaeology can open up various doors in terms of career options, the subsequent completion of a postgraduate degree significantly improves employment prospects.

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Studying a Masters Degree in Archaeology can serve as ideal preparation for a PhD in the subject, allows people who have studied other subjects at undergraduate level to study archaeology at postgraduate level, and can assist with entry into some archaeology and heritage-based jobs. In addition, it is helpful for those moving into numerous other vocations where project management, literacy and research skills are important attributes.

Overview of a Masters in Archaeology

In order to study archaeology at masters level, students must first complete an undergraduate degree in archaeology, or in an associated field or another social science, such as history, geography or some science subjects. Most universities require students to have at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level, although entry requirements vary between different academic institutions and should be checked individually.

Masters in Archaeology

A full-time archaeology masters degree can be completed over the course of one academic year, while students studying on a part time basis will usually take two years to finish the course. In some instances, a third year of study may even be required.

Masters Degrees in Archaeology can either take a research focus or a vocational focus. If the degree is research-based, an emphasis will be placed on written work, while if it is more vocation-based, it will typically place a focus on practical elements, such as field work.

Areas of specialisation

Masters in Archaeology In the vast majority of cases, a Masters in Archaeology is made up of two core modules, six optional modules and the completion of either a written dissertation or a field-based work placement. With that said, different universities may structure their particular archaeology course slightly differently. The core modules and optional modules available vary drastically.

Whether the masters course requires the completion of a dissertation or a work placement depends upon whether the degree has a research or vocational focus. Some masters degrees will offer students a choice between the two pathways, while others have a set focus for all students on that particular course.

Most students studying archaeology at masters level will graduate as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master by Research (MRes). However, some archaeology masters, including forensic archaeology degrees, will instead result in the graduate becoming a Master of Science (MSc).

In addition to more general archaeology masters degrees, a number of more specialist masters degrees can be found, including:

Medieval Archaeology - Focuses on artefacts, buildings and material culture from the medieval time period.

Maritime Archaeology - The study of underwater archaeology, such as shipwrecks and submerged settlements.

Anthropological Archaeology - Understanding past human life through uncovering material evidence.

Landscape Archaeology - Deals with the historical interaction between humans and their environment.

Forensic Archaeology - Contains elements of both the study of archaeology and the study of forensics.

Student case studies

Masters in Archaeology 1.“My postgraduate research project centres on a group of objects from our own Garstang Museum, which I am cataloguing, analysing and researching with the aim of garnering a better understanding of the tomb they are from and early Ancient Egypt in general. I am really enjoying being responsible for my own progress, and for the nature and structure of my work.”
Hayley Meloy, MA Archaeology, University of Liverpool

2. “My time with the archaeology department was brilliant. The course was immersive and stimulating and the teachers were always approachable and enthusiastic about their subject. Being in the heart of London you are never far away from great museums or galleries to support your studies at UCL.”
Grace Fussell, MA Comparative Art and Archaeology, University College London

3. “After studying ancient history and archaeology at undergraduate level, I wanted to progress in my studies to further my knowledge in the archaeology industry. The main thing I like is the one-to-one tuition which you get from the lecturing staff. They have wealth of knowledge in their subject areas and this is a great help at this level.”

Claire Burns, MSc Archaeology and Environment, Queen's University Belfast

Career opportunities for graduates of a Masters in Archaeology

After studying a Masters in Archaeology, graduates will have developed or enhanced their research, literacy, project management, teamwork and analytical skills, making them ideal candidates for a number of jobs where those attributes are desired.

In terms of careers related directly to the course, archaeology masters graduates should be sufficiently equipped to go into museum and national heritage-based vocations and some lower end archaeology jobs.

Moreover, the course serves as ideal preparation for further study, such as an archaeology PhD, which can lead to careers at the top end of the archaeology industry. A masters degree can also function as a good building point for careers in lecturing or teaching.

Find postgraduate programs in ARCHAEOLOGY