The MA Artefact Studies provides training in the documentation and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections.
Degree Co-ordinator: Bill Sillar
Students are introduced to the skills of finds specialists. They develop the ability to identify, describe, document, catalogue and analyse artefacts and artefact assemblages. Subjects covered include the description of ceramic, lithic and metal objects. In practical sessions, we cover drawing, photography and work with databases. Many sessions make use of the institute's extensive collections. The programme will also raise awareness of different approaches to artefact analysis and introduce recent discussions on the subject. Students benefit from a placement within a museum, an archaeological excavatin or an archaeological unit where experience will be gained in the practice of finds analysis.
The degree programme is available either full-time over one calendar year or part-time over two calendar years (commencing September). It comprises a core course, several option courses, an optional placement within a museum or archaeological unit (not assessed, see below) and a dissertation. Each of these is discussed more fully below:
All students must take the following:
- Working with artefacts and assemblages (ARCL0211, 30 credits, 22 weeks)
Students choose to follow further option modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Masters course options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Please note not all modules are available every year. For this degree, some of the most popular choices include:
Material based modules
- Archaeological Ceramics Analysis (ARCL0102, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - please note that ARCL0100 is a pre-requisite for this module
- Archaeological Glass and Glazes (ARCL0099, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Archaeometallurgy: Mining and Extractive Metallurgy (ARCL0098, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Interpreting Pottery (ARCL0100, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis (ARCL0101, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Technology within Society (ARCL0169, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
Periods and Areas
- Aegean Prehistory: Major Themes and Current Debates (ARCL0135, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Archaeologies of Asia (ARCL0152, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- British and European Prehistory: Neolithic to Iron Age (ARCL0146, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020/21
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas: First People to Emerging Complexity (ARCL0172, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020-21
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas II : Empires, states and settlement (ARCL0188, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Egyptian Archaeology through the Petrie Museum: an object-based theoretical approach (ARCL0136, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Making and Meaning in Ancient Greek Art (ARCL0162, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Making and Meaning in Ancient Roman Art (ARCL0164, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age of the Near East (ARCL0200, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Mediterranean Prehistory (ARCL0141, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Themes and Debates in Islamic Archaeology and Heritage (ARCL0178, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020-21
- The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of the Near East: The emergence of villages and urban societies (ARCL0151, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Archaeological Data Science (ARCL0160, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020-21
- Funerary Archaeology (ARCL0156, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Geoarchaeology (ARCL0097, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020-21
- GIS in Archaeology and History (ARCL0094, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - Highly recommended for anybody intending to study artefact distributions
- Laboratory and Instrumental Skills in Archaeological Science (ARCL0170, 15 credits, 11 weeks with lab-work in term II) - this is the core course for the MSc in Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials, it may not be available for outside students if oversubscribed, please check with the module co-ordinator.
Public Archaeology, museums and outreach
- Antiquities and the Law (ARCL0126, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
- Archaeology and Education (ARCL0126, 15 credits, 11 weeks) - not running in 2020-21
- Public Archaeology (ARCLG0091, 30 credits, 22 weeks)
Assessment for the course is by a standard essay, six pieces of short work involving the analysis of assemblages and finds distributions, and a portfolio. For the portfolio, students will receive 10 original finds from the IoA-collections which they will have to identify and document, producing a state of the art catalogue.
The core module will be taught over twenty weeks in term 1 and term 2. This adds up to a total of 40 contact hours full time. In addition to this students are expected to undertake around 200 hours of private reading in preparing for classes and approximately 100 hours to prepare their modulework. There are reading weeks in term 1 and 2; this time should be used to catch-up with any reading associated with lectures and to research and prepare assessed work. Term 3 is wholly given over to dissertation research.
(90 credits) - The dissertation is 15,000 words in length with accompanying illustrations, tables and bibliographies etc, resulting from individual research undertaken during the course. In most cases this will combine a professional standard finds report with a theoretically informed academic overview of the particular field, tailored to answer a specific research question. However, with the permission of the Programme Co-ordinator, the dissertation can be on any topic relevant to the degree.
Examples of past projects include:
- an experimental study of pottery breakage
- Chinese porcelain in the City of London
- spatial analysis of artefacts in Bronze Age lynchets
- small finds from the late Roman barracks at Caerleon
- Irish traveler graves
- Problems in long-term object storage in the East of England Museum Hub
- the arrangement of grave gifts in early Anglo Saxon graves
- Coptic footwear
- Early Neolithic flint working at Hopton-on-Sea