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.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
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.
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
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.
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.
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About this degree
This degree bridges the gap between data generated by materials science and broader archaeological questions about human behaviour. Students will be 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.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of one core module (15 credits), five optional modules (75 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Archaeological Science: Technology and Materials.
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.
- Laboratory and Instrumental Skills in Archaeological Science
You are then able to choose further optional modules to the value of 75 credits. At least 15 credits must be made up from the following, either Technology within Society or Archaeological Data Science. At least 30 credits must be made up from the following list below.
- Archaeological Ceramics Analysis
- Archaeological Glass and Glazes
- Archaeometallurgy: Mining and Extractive Metallurgy
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas I: First Peoples to Emerging Complexity
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas II: Empires, States and Settlement
- Geoarchaeology: Methods and Concepts
- Interpreting Pottery
- Working with Artefacts and Assemblages
The 15,000 word dissertation (90 credits) is produced as a result of an individual research project undertaken during the course, building upon the core course and often on a specialisation chosen from the options. The dissertation may be written on any approved topic relevant to the degree. Students are assigned to a supervisor to guide them through the main stages of the work. Hands-on analytical work using the Institute's own faciltites is encouraged.
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
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Institute of Archaeology Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2021/22. 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 2021.
UCL Institute of Archaeology International Masters Student Award: thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor the scholarship will enable one international fee paying student to undertake a year of study. It will provide support of up to £26,000 for the duration of their degree and funds can be used to support fees and/or maintenance costs at the recipient’s discretion. Further details can be found here. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2021.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
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 abroad. 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.
Due largely to an unparalleled breadth of academic expertise and laboratory facilities, our graduates develop an unusual combination of research and transferable skills, including critical abilities, team working, multimedia communication, numerical thinking and the use of advanced analytical instruments. On completion of the degree, graduates should be as comfortable in a laboratory as in a museum and/or an archaeological site. They become acquainted with research design and implementation, ethical issues and comparative approaches to world archaeology through direct exposure to an enormous variety of projects. The range of options available allows students to tailor their pathways towards different career prospects in archaeology and beyond.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK. Its specialist staff, outstanding library, fine teaching and reference collections, based in the heart of London, provide a stimulating environment for postgraduate study.
The excellent in-house laboratory facilities will provide direct experience with a wide range of techniques, including electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis, portable X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, infra-red spectroscopy, petrography, and metallography under the supervision of some of the world's leading specialists.
The institute houses fine teaching and reference collections from around the world that are extensively used by MSc students. Collections include ceramic, glass, metal, and stone artefacts, as well as geological materials from around the world. In addition, the institute has an extensive network of connections to museums and active projects offering research opportunities for MSc students.
Department: Institute 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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
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: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
The programme is designed for graduates in archaeology or related disciplines with an interest in scientific methods. 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.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2021
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 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
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