Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials MSc

London, Bloomsbury

Scientific analysis plays an important role in the study of archaeological materials. This MSc integrates teaching in materials science and the archaeology of technology with practical training in the instrumental analysis of archaeological and heritage objects. Students design and implement materials characterisation projects that address key archaeological questions, while developing transferable skills in project management and data analysis.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£14,100
£7,050
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£29,000
£14,500
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Applications open

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.

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: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

This degree bridges the gap between materials science and archaeology. Students are introduced to critical concepts of both disciplines and learn the foundations of the major instrumental techniques. By the degree's conclusion, students will have the knowledge and experience to independently design, implement, and report archaeologically meaningful materials characterisation studies.

Who this course is for

This programme is designed for graduates in archaeology or related disciplines who are interested in combining laboratory-based materials analysis with archaeological research. It is also suitable for conservators and others concerned with archaeological collections, and for science graduates who have, or are willing to acquire, a good understanding of archaeology. It is best suited to those aiming for a research degree and a career in academia or museum science. It may also be appealing to those seeking to develop skills in line with professional/avocational interests.

What this course will give you

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest and most diverse departments of archaeology in the UK. Its specialist staff, outstanding library, and teaching/reference collections provide a stimulating environment for postgraduate study in the heart of London.

Excellent in-house laboratory facilities offer direct experience with a wide range of analytical approaches, including geochemistry, metallography, and ceramic petrography under the supervision of some of the world's leading archaeomaterials specialists. Amongst the techniques you will encounter are optical microscopy, SEM-EDS, pXRF, XRD, LIBS, and LA-ICP-MS.

Outstanding teaching/reference collections from around the world (including ceramic, glass, metal, and stone artefacts) are extensively used by MSc students. We also maintain an extensive network of connections to museums and active projects offering diverse research opportunities.

The foundation of your career

Due to an unparalleled breadth of academic expertise and laboratory facilities, our graduates develop an unusual combination of research and transferable skills, including critical thinking, team working, multimedia communication, data analysis and the use of advanced scientific instruments. On completion of the degree, graduates should be as comfortable in a laboratory as in a museum and/or an archaeological site. Many choose to continue on to research degrees while others choose to leverage their training in commercial archaeology or other industries requiring advanced knowledge and experience in materials characterisation.

Employability

Given our strong emphasis on research training, many of our MSc graduates take up further research positions after their degree, and over half of our MSc students progress to PhD research. Their projects are generally concerned with the technology and/or provenance of ceramics, metals, or glass in different regions and periods, but most of them involve scientific approaches in combination with traditional fieldwork and/or experimental archaeology.

Some of our graduates are now teaching archaeometry or ancient technologies at different universities in the UK and overseas. Others work as conservation scientists in museums and heritage institutions, or as finds specialists, researchers and consultants employed by archaeological field units or academic research projects.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical demonstrations and laboratory work. A popular aspect of this programme is its extensive use of analytical facilities. Assessment is through essays, practicals, projects, laboratory reports and oral presentations depending on the options chosen, and the dissertation.

While week to week schedules will vary, students can expect to spend 25% of their time in lectures, 25% in tutorials or practicals, up to 5% in advisory or supplemental engagement sessions, and about 45% working on independent study and research

Modules

Most formal teaching is carried out in the first two terms. During the second term, you identify a dissertation topic and supervisor. In the third term, you begin the literature review and laboratory components of your dissertation.

By the end of term 3, you will have enough accomplished to provide an oral presentation of your dissertation plans to staff and fellow students for some early feedback. Laboratory bench work, supplementary learning opportunities, and dissertation writing extend across the whole of summer. Research skills sessions provide additional support and guidance throughout the year to help you through all stages of the degree.

Teaching takes place during terms one and two. Those who undertake part-time study will discuss their pathway through the degree with the degree co-ordinator. Typically students will take the compulsory core modules in the first year and select their optional modules in order to spread these out to year two. The dissertation is discussed in year one and completed at the end of year two. We endeavour to be flexible to the needs of part-time students in designing their pathway through the degree over two years.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest centres for archaeology, cultural heritage and museum studies in Britain. Join us for a Virtual Graduate Open Event to find out more about our wide range of Master's programmes, how our programmes are taught, and what it's like to study at the Institute of Archaeology. Please contact Lisa Daniel, Graduate Admissions Administrator (l.daniel@ucl.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £14,100 £7,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £29,000 £14,500

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL Institute of Archaeology International Masters Student Award.Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor the scholarship will enable one Overseas fee paying student to undertake a year of study on an eligible Master's. It will provide support of up to £26,000 for the duration of their degree to cover fees. Further details can be found here. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2023.

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

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials at graduate level
  • what do you consider to be the major challenges in this field today
  • if you have a strong interest in any particular ancient material or technology
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
  • why you want to study Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials at UCL
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.