Archaeology MA

The Archaeology MA is an intensive induction programme to current archaeological theory and interpretive trends which equips students to undertake research in their chosen field. The flexible programme of study serves as an excellent expansion of undergraduate studies or as a self-designed foundation for further postgraduate and professional work.

Mode of study

  • Full-time 1 year
  • Part-time 2 years

Tuition fees

  • UK/EU Full-time: £8,500
  • UK/EU Part-time: £4,250
  • Overseas Full-time: £16,750
  • Overseas Part-time: £8,500

Application date

  • All applicants: 1 August 2014

More details in Application section.

What will I learn?

The programme provides a wide-ranging and challenging introduction to theoretical issues involved in modern archaeology as a comparative, anthropologically-informed, and socially-situated discipline. Students develop critically aware perspectives on archaeological practice and research processes and gain an in-depth understanding of approaches to the collection, analysis and interpretation of archaeological data. The programme is extremely flexible, with options available from most other programmes.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and one of the most highly regarded centres for archaeology, archaeological science, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain, as evidenced by its top position in university league tables and National Student Survey results. It is one of the very few places in the world actively pursuing research on a truly global scale. Its degree programmes offer an unrivalled variety of courses on a diverse range of topics, and wide-ranging fieldwork opportunities. The Institute hosts events on many different aspects of archaeology and is linked to heritage organisations, museums and archaeological societies, providing an outstanding research environment for staff, students and visitors.

It is truly international in outlook and membership, with students and staff from over 40 countries, and involvement in field research projects around the world.

UCL is located in central London, within walking distance to the British Museum and the British Library. UCL's own museums and collections form a resource of international importance for academic research.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of two core modules (30 credits), optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).

Core Modules

  • Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Foundations
  • Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Current Issues


  • Some examples from the range of options which can be taken for this programme are as follows:
  • Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from the Emergence of Modern Humans
  • Evolution of Palaeolithic and Neolithic Societies in the Near East
  • Ancient Italy in the Mediterranean
  • Archaeology and Education
  • Rethinking 'Classical' Art: sociological and anthropological approaches
  • British and European Prehistory: Neolithic to Iron Age
  • Mediterranean World in the Iron Age
  • Medieval Archaeology: select topics and current problems
  • Cities, States and Religions in Ancient India
  • Archaeology of Buddhism
  • Archaeologies of Modern Conflict
  • Aztec Archaeology: Codices and ethnohistory
  • Beyond Chiefdoms: Archaeologies of African political complexities
  • Maya Art, Architecture and Archaeology
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Lithic Analysis
  • Funerary Archaeology
  • Technology in Society: Archaeology and Ethnography in the Andes
  • Rock Art Studies: Theories, Methods and Management


All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.

Teaching and Learning

Core course is seminar based, and the sessions are interactive, with an emphasis on student participation and critical discussion. The option courses are delivered through seminars, lectures, practicals, laboratory sessions, tutorials and site and museum visits, as appropriate for specific courses. Assessment is through essays, oral examination and the dissertation.

Further details available on subject website:


A small number of IoA Masters Award bursaries, normally in the region of £1,000, are available each year.

Scholarships available for this department

Kathleen Kenyon Awards

Gordon Childe Studentship

Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

International equivalencies

Select your country for equivalent alternative requirements

English language proficiency level: Good

How to apply

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

The deadline for applications is 1 August 2014.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in archaeology, anthropology, history or classics. It will appeal to those who wish to develop the necessary skills relevant for a professional career in archaeology, and for those who want to continue onto a research degree in the field.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Archaeology at graduate level
  • why you want to study Archaeology at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to PhD studies while others have pursued and incredibly wide range of professional careers both within and beyond archaeology. Recent graduate career destinations include: Excavator for a private ARchaeological COntractor, Education Officer and a national museum, and Intern at a national museum. Several students each year normally continue on to PhD studies at UCL.

Top career destinations for this programme

  • Illinois State of Archaeological Survey, US, Archaeological Field Technician, 2011
  • Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Archaeologist, 2010
  • English Heritage, Trainee Co-ordinator, 2011
  • Letchworth Gardens, Museum Assistant, 2009
  • UCL, Research Student, 2010


As the most general of the MA/MSc programmes, the experience and skills acquired depends on the course options selected, and how those skills are developed through assessed work, developing experise in the archaeology of specific regions, periods or themes, or specific field, museum and analytical skills. All students acquire a detailed understanding of specific theoretical debates and the critical skills to evaluate exhisting arguments and interpretations and to develop their own research, develop a range of research skills, and design and carry through original research. Taught from a comparative anthropological perspective, understanding cultural differences, in the past and present, is fundamental.

Next steps


Professor Todd Whitelaw

T: +44 (0)20 7679 7534


Institute of Archaeology

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Social and Historical Sciences


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Student View

"The Institute of Archaeology's library has been an invaluable tool due to the huge amount of material available that is related to our field, and is one of my favourite things about the institute."

Alexandra Salamunovich

Degree: Archaeology MA

Staff View

"UCL Archaeology has a great atmosphere for both staff and students; it's a great place to work, and with so many experts passing through from different countries to give lectures and seminars it is very much the centre of the archaeological world."

Professor Mike Parker Pearson

Professor of British Later Prehistory