Institute of Archaeology


MA Comparative Art and Archaeology Programme Structure

Please note that this degree will not be running until 2023-24

Degree Handbook


The degree programme will be available either full-time over one calendar year or part-time over two calendar years (commencing September). Students will be required to take a core course and two further MA level courses in addition to writing a dissertation.

Core Modules

All students must take the following:

  • Nature, culture and the languages of art: theories and methodologies of art interpretation (ARCL0174, 15 credits, 11 weeks) Not available until 2023-24
  • Social and material contexts of art: comparative approaches to art explanation (ARCL0176, 15 credits, 11 weeks) Not available until 2023-24

Option Modules

Students choose to follow two further option courses up to the value of 60 credits: at least one Institute art course (see below), and an additional course from this list or from a range of language, history and archaeology options chosen in consultation with the Course Co-ordinator. Please note not all courses are available every year.  The Institute art courses available to students taking this course are still under discussion, but the most popular choices include:

Students interested in specialising in the art of one of the other regions for which we lack a special art option but offer a general archaeological course may do so if they have a suitable background and some idea of the general area in which they might develop a dissertation topic. Arrangements can be made for their essays for these courses to focus on art related topics. Applicants wishing to take advantage of this possibility should be sure to mention it in their application, so we can discuss suitable provision at the interview.

Regional options where this arrangement can be made include: The Aegean from the First farmers to Minoan States, Late Bronze Age Aegean, Later European Prehistory, Egyptian Archaeology, Near East Later Prehistory to the Iron Age, Palaeolithic and Neolithic Societies in the Near East, Issues in African Archaeology.

Students also have access to appropriate options from other colleges with the University of London, subject to the approval of the course co-ordinator and college authorities. These include courses at SOAS, for example The Hindu Temple and The Art and Archaeology of the Silk Road, and at Kings College London, for example Greek Sculpture and Ancient Mosaics: Making and Meaning. 


(90 credits) - All students are asked to write a dissertation (15,000 words long) which is the result of an individual research project undertaken during the course. This can be on any approved topic relevant to the degree and to the taught components selected. Students are assigned a Supervisor to guide the main stages of the work.

Examples of past projects include:

  • representations of the human figure in Bronze Age Aegean glyptic
  • art and power in the sanctuaries at Roman Aphrodisias and Hellenistic Nemrud Dagh
  • the cultural context of the Easter Island statue of Hoa Hakananai'a
  • modes of anthropomorphic representation in Neolithic and Copper Age Italy
  • a comparative study of religious architecture
  • facial representation in the Chinese bronzes of Sanxingdui