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Artefact Studies MA

This MA provides training in the documentation and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. Students benefit from a placement within a museum or an archaeological unit where experience will be gained in the practice of finds analysis.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£10,110 (FT) £5,085 (PT)
£20,540 (FT) £10,430 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

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

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree information

Students are introduced to the skills of finds specialists, practical issues of artefact study, and debates about the collection, interpretation, reporting and curation of archaeological materials. They develop the ability to evaluate different approaches to artefact studies and undertake the cataloguing and analysis of an artefact assemblage.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of one core module (30 credits), four optional modules (60 credits), an optional work placement and a research project (90 credits).

Core modules

All students are required to take the following: 

  • Working with artefacts and assemblages
  • Technology within Society

Optional modules

Students choose to follow further optional modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Master's options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. For this degree, some of the most popular choices include: 

  • Antiquities and the Law
  • Archaeological Ceramic Analysis
  • Archaeological Glass and Glazes
  • Archaeometallurgy I: Mining and Extractive Metallurgy
  • Archaeometallurgy II: Metallic Artefacts
  • Art: Interpretation and Explanation
  • British and European Prehistory: Neolithic to Iron Age
  • Experimental Archaeology
  • Funerary Archaeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Intangible Dimensions of Museum Objects from Egypt
  • Interpreting Pottery
  • Issues in Conservation: Understanding Objects
  • Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art
  • Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art
  • Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis


The 15,000–word dissertation normally combines a professional standard finds report with an academic overview.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through formal lectures, seminars and practical sessions. It can include a placement at a relevant museum or archaeological unit where students gain experience in the practical study and the recording of an artefact assemblage. Assessment is through an essay, a portfolio, a project proposal and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Artefact Studies MA


Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: A small number of grants of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2017/18. All UK/EU and Overseas fee paying students with an offer to start any Master's degree offered by the IoA are eligible to apply. For an application form please email Lisa Daniel. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2017.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) - NOW CLOSED FOR 2016/17

Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to PhD studies while others have pursued a very wide range of professional careers both within and beyond archaeology. The main career path is working as assistants, museum curators or working in the antiquities service recording finds.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Project Team Officer, English Heritage
  • Archaeologist, Museum of London Archaeology
  • Museum Building Manager, Hainan and Haopioen Arts Museum
  • Artefacts Assistant, Maidstone Council
  • Freelance Numismatist, Self-Employed Numismatist


The degree is tailored to give graduates a solid grounding in systematically recording and documenting artefacts as well as analysing artefact assemblage. They will also have a basic understanding of creating graphs and diagrams, and analysing and assembling finds-catalogues. Without concentrating on any specific epoch, we give students the tools for understanding and systematically analysing any artefact assemblages.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Whether you plan a career as finds assistant, museum curator or plan a materials based PhD, this course provides you with the skills you need to successfully identify, describe and document artefacts and analyse assemblages. The emphasis of the course is very much on practical application, so there will be numerous handling sessions and praxis-related tasks.

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK, and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study. Its outstanding archaeological library is complemented by UCL's Main Library, University of London Senate House and other specialist libraries. UCL is located in central London, within walking distance of the British Museum and the British Library.

UCL's own museums and collections form a resource of international importance for academic research. Students will work on material from the institute's collection as part of their assessment. Past students on this programme have made effective use of the resources at the British Museum, the Museum of London and the Museum of London archives, the Petrie Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and other British and international museums. The Wolfson Labs provide a unique facility for scientific analyses of materials and have been used by numerous artefact students for their dissertations after the required training.

Department: Institute of Archaeology

Student / staff numbers › 63 staff including 27 postdocs › 258 taught students › 115 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Institute of Archaeology
75% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

Staff view

"It has been amazing to see the growth of public interest in Stonehenge and archaeology more generally in the ten years that we have been running this project."

Professor Mike Parker Pearson

Archaeology MA
Professor of Archaeology

Application and next steps


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.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for graduates with a first degree in archaeology who wish to develop their skills in the study and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections, with a view to further research or a career in this field. 

Students who do not have the required archaeological background may want to consider taking our Graduate Diploma in the first instance.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 July 2017

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Artefact Studies at UCL
  • why you want to study Artefact Analysis at graduate level
  • what you expect to get out of this programme
  • what is your general archaeological background
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • what your undergraduate degree is in and how much practical work with artefacts does the degree include
  • what previous experience you have in working with artefacts
  • if you have any experience in working as a finds assistant or in a museum
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Contact information

Page last modified on 20 October 2016 at 12:07 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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