MSc Archaeology


Program Description

This programme is a pathways-based research degree, with a strong emphasis on the development of skills and specialisms in Higher Archaeological Practice, Palaeoanthropology or Bioarchaeology. You may choose to focus on one of these areas, or alternatively, you may prefer to acquire a broad range of skills across these specialisms.

You will engage with hands-on, real-world archaeological materials and situations, including opportunities to collaborate with a range of stakeholders and partners in the archaeological sector through a professional placement. By these means, you will acquire skills for vocational employment or subsequent Ph.D. research. Your programme will be embedded within Southampton Archaeology’s distinctive research culture, with world-class expertise, diverse practice, and contacts with the commercial environment and the heritage sector.

The MSc Archaeology offers you a choice of modules from all specialisms with no requirement to focus on a specific area. You may also choose to specialize in pathways Higher Archaeological Practice Palaeoanthropology and Bioarchaeology

Important aspects of the programme are available across all specialisms. These include the compulsory dissertation module, which should focus on an area of your specialism if you have chosen one. Furthermore, modules from each pathway are open to you as options, regardless of your chosen specialism. By these means, you will be able to build a personalized and flexible programme tailored to your needs.

This programme includes opportunities for credit-bearing placements within organizations involved in commercial archaeology, heritage management, fieldwork projects and/or museums. The placements are typically organized by the University and may be available to students following all specialisms, or crossing between them.

Academic entry requirements

First or upper second class honors degree, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University of archaeology, anthropology, geography, biology, history or a related discipline.

English language entry requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.5 in reading and writing, 6.0 in listening and speaking, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University in other approved English language test.

Mature Applicants

Studying for a degree later in life can be extremely rewarding and mature students are often among our most successful. If you are over 21 and feel you would benefit from degree-level studies, we can be more flexible about our entry requirements. For full-time courses, selectors will expect you to demonstrate your commitment by means of some recent serious study, for example, one or two A-level passes, successful completion of an Open University foundation course or an appropriate Access course. We will also take relevant professional experience into account. Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.

Typical course content

Programme content will vary depending on the specialism that you follow. Each specialism is consolidated by means of compulsory modules that offer firm foundations in your chosen area. This is complemented by diverse optional modules that allow you the flexibility to build a bespoke skill-set appropriate to your chosen career path. Engagement with partners in the commercial sector will allow you to experience a range of approaches to archaeological practice and their articulation with research-based approaches.

Learning and assessment

Archaeology is a diverse and wide-ranging subject, and our approaches to teaching and learning reflect its broad scope. Learning activities include the full range of teaching and learning methods: from lectures, seminars and laboratory work, to discussion groups and field-based practical instruction, both indoors and outdoors. The variety of activities on offer allows students to work to their strengths as well as developing competency in new areas. The range of learning and teaching methods has been adopted to ensure that graduates from the programme gain knowledge of the different conditions in which we work, as well as confidence in a variety of academic and professional settings.

  • The specialism in Higher Archaeological Practice focuses strongly on practical elements, including learning activities designed to replicate real-world situations in the field and in post-excavation. You will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of archaeological materials, and activities will include project-based work, field- and laboratory-based elements, and reporting and publication.
  • The specialism in Palaeoanthropology is taught by means of lectures and seminars, with field trips and museum visits undertaken in order to familiarise you with key research questions, approaches, and materials.
  • The specialism in Bioarchaeology is strongly laboratory-based, in which you are encouraged to spend time working with collections of human and faunal skeletal material in order to familiarise yourself with its nature, potential and cultural context.
  • The MSc Archaeology combines all the teaching and learning approaches identified above.

Your contact hours will vary depending on your module/option choices. Full information about contact hours is provided in individual module profiles.

Last updated Mar 2018

About the School

Over 6,500 international students from more than 135 countries choose to study at the University of Southampton each year. In addition, we have links with universities and partners around the world, m ... Read More

Over 6,500 international students from more than 135 countries choose to study at the University of Southampton each year. In addition, we have links with universities and partners around the world, making us a truly international institution. Here at Humanities, we are fascinated by people and their activities and achievements over the centuries, from prehistory to the modern day. We are well-known for ground-breaking and internationally-significant research and education across our wide-ranging disciplines, most of which are ranked in the top ten across British universities. Read less