Degree structure



Students are required to take a core course and four options. They are also required to write a dissertation which is the result of an individual research project undertaken during the degree. A topic should be selected in consultation with staff, and students will be assigned a primary and secondary supervisor to guide the main stages of the work. The degree programme lasts for twelve months (starting in late September), although it is also possible to take it part-time over two years. Most of the structured teaching takes place in the autumn and spring terms, the summer being devoted to work on the dissertation. MSc students regularly attend weekly seminars by guest speakers in the two participating departments, as well as other special lectures held at UCL or nearby institutions. In addition, research groups have been formed around several of the key topics that form part of the programme. These provide opportunities for MSc student participation, and can be especially helpful for dissertation research.

Core Course

All students must take the following:

  • Themes in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology (ARCLG179, 30 credits, 22 weeks)

The course provides an essential background on issues relating to the analysis and interpretation of the fossil and archaeological records. Topics will include:

  • the interpretive history of palaeoanthropology and palaeolithic archaeology;
  • aspects of primate behaviour, adaptation and evolution;
  • recent hunter-gatherer lifeways and the use of ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology;
  • environmental history, faunal communities and palaeoecology;
  • taphonomy and site formation processes;
  • the human fossil record, and the role of genetic evidence;
  • evolution of human behaviour and life history;lithic technology, subsistence strategies and cognitive evolution;
  • case studies drawn from various time periods ranging from the earliest archaeological record in Africa to the colonization of Australasia and the Americas.

It will be taught through weekly lectures and seminars during the autumn and spring terms.

Option Courses

Students will be encouraged to select options from the following list up to the value of 60 credits. Alternatively, they may choose from the wider range of Masters course options available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology or the Department of Anthropology:

  • Archaeology of Human Evolution in Africa (ARCLG176, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
  • Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers from Emergence of Modern Humans (ARCLG128, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
  • Evolution of the Human Brain and Behaviour (ARCLG183, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
  • Geoarchaeology: Methods and Concepts (ARCLG104, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
  • Prehistoric Stone Artefact Analysis (ARCLG113, 15 credits, 11 weeks)
  • Palaeoanthropology (ANTHGH16, 15 credits, 11 weeks, subject to availability)
  • Primate Evolution (ANTHGH17, 15 credits, 11 weeks,  subject to availability)
  • Primate Socioecology (ANTHGH15, 15 credits, 11 weeks,  subject to availability)
  • Zooarchaeology in Practice (ARCLG184, 15 credits, 11 weeks)

Please note not all courses are available every year.


(90 credits) - All students are asked to write a dissertation of 15,000 words on a suitable research topic, with guidance from a primary and secondary supervisor. The research interests of the staff involved in teaching the degree are indicated in the section below and topics may be selected in those areas, or others related to the course.

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