Artefact Studies MA

London, Bloomsbury

This MA provides training in the documentation and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. Students will work with original finds from the rich collection of the Institute of Archaeology. Teaching includes a mixture of lectures, seminars and practicals with various types of artefacts, including pottery, worked flint and metals. Students will develop basic skills in cleaning, marking, describing, measuring, photographing and drawing artefacts, as well as producing a finds catalogue at professional level. We will discuss and train the identification of raw materials as well methods of classification and typology and the production and use of finds mapping.

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

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.

Who this course is for

The programme is particularly suitable for graduates with a first degree in archaeology or a related degree who wish to develop their skills in the study and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections, with a view to further research or a career in this field. 

Students who do not have the required archaeological background may want to consider taking our Graduate Diploma in the first instance.

What this course will give you

Whether you plan a career as a finds assistant, museum curator or plan materials-based PhD, this programme provides you with the skills you need to successfully identify, describe and document artefacts and analyse assemblages. The emphasis is very much on practical application, so there will be numerous handling sessions and praxis-related tasks.

The large collections of the institute cover most areas of the globe and offer a unique resource for honing your skills.

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is one of the largest and most diverse department of archaeology in the UK and provides a stimulating environment for postgraduate study. Its outstanding archaeological library is complemented by UCL's Main Library, University of London Senate House and other specialist libraries. UCL is located in central London, within walking distance of the British Museum and the British Library.

UCL's own museums and collections form a resource of international importance for academic research. Students will work on material from the institute's collection as part of their assessment. Past students on this programme have made effective use of the resources at the British Museum, the Museum of London and the Museum of London archives, the Petrie Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and other British and international museums. The Wolfson Labs provide a unique facility for scientific analyses of materials and have been used by numerous artefact students for their dissertations after the required training.

The foundation of your career

The degree is tailored to give graduates a solid grounding in systematically recording and documenting artefacts as well as analysing artefact assemblage. They will also have a basic understanding of creating graphs and diagrams, and analysing and assembling finds-catalogues. Without concentrating on any specific epoch, we give students the tools for understanding and systematically analysing any type of archaeological artefact assemblages.

Employability

Some recent graduates of the programme have gone on to artefact based PhD studies while others have pursued a very wide range of professional careers both within and beyond archaeology. The main career paths are working as finds assistants, museum curators or working in the antiquities service (PAS), recording and analysing finds.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through formal lectures, seminars and practical sessions. It can include a placement at a relevant museum or archaeological unit where students gain experience in the practical study and the recording of an artefact assemblage.

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. In addition to this, you are expected to undertake around 200 hours of private reading in preparing for classes and approximately 100 hours to prepare your module work. 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 research on your dissertation.

Modules

The teaching is carried out in the first two terms. One compulsory core module provides the foundation for the degree and you will take 60 credits of modules (chosen from a range of options). The programme provides training in the study and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. You will be introduced to the skills of finds specialists. We will focus on the practicalities of working with artefacts and assemblages and cover the sequence from excavation to cleaning, labelling, documenting, cataloguing and finally publishing and archiving artefacts. A lot of the lectures contain practicals. The programme also includes practical exercises in the assessment of finds-assemblages. We will also discuss practical issues in the professional study of artefacts and major theoretical debates about the collection, interpretation, reporting and curation of archaeological materials. A central concern will be the integration of finds analysis within wider archaeological research questions.

 In the second term you will identify a dissertation topic and supervisor then in the third term you begin work on your dissertation, which continues over the summer. Research skills sessions provide support for this and you have to make an oral presentation of your dissertation plans to staff and your student colleagues to obtain feedback.

Teaching takes place during terms one and two. Those who undertake part-time study will discuss with the degree co-ordinator their pathway through the degree. 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 1 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.

 The programme provides training in the study and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. You will be introduced to the skills of finds specialists. We will focus on the practicalities of working with artefacts and assemblages and cover the sequence from excavation to cleaning, labelling, documenting, cataloguing and finally publishing and archiving artefacts. A lot of the lectures contain practicals. The programme also includes practical exercises in the assessment of finds-assemblages. We will also discuss practical issues in the professional study of artefacts and major theoretical debates about the collection, interpretation, reporting and curation of archaeological materials. A central concern will be the integration of finds analysis within wider archaeological research questions.

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.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Artefact Studies.

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

Additional costs

The collection of data for the dissertation may cause travel expenses. There is a bench fee for the course which covers lab equipment.

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 programme. 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 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 Artefact Studies at UCL
  • why you want to study Artefact Studies at graduate level
  • what you expect to get out of this programme
  • what is your general archaeological background
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • what your undergraduate degree is in and how much practical work with artefacts does the degree include
  • what previous experience you have in working with artefacts
  • if you have any experience in working as a finds assistant or in a museum
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

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

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