This MA provides training in the documentation and interpretation of artefacts from archaeological sites and museum collections. Students benefit from a placement within a museum, an archaeological excavatin or an archaeological unit where experience will be gained in the practice of finds analysis.
Covid-19 programme updates
Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.
Modes and duration
Part-time students will usually attend two to two and a half days a week depending on the timetable. They must complete the core-course in the first year.
Tuition fees (2020/21)
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.
A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in archaeology or related 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
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.
Select your country:
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.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of one core module (30 credits), four optional modules (60 credits), an optional work placement and a research project (90 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Artefact Studies.
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.
All students are required to take the following:
- Working with Artefacts and Assemblages
Students choose to follow further optional modules up to the value of 60 credits from an outstanding range of Master's modules available at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. For this degree, some of the most popular choices include:
- Aegean Prehistory
- Antiquities and the Law
- Archaeology and Education
- Archaeological Ceramic Analysis
- Archaeological Glass and Glazes
- Archaeometallurgy: Mining and Extractive Metallurgy
- Egyptian Archaeology through the Petrie Museum: an object-based theoretical Approach
- GIS in Archaeology and History
- Interpreting Pottery
- Laboratory and Instrumental Skills in Archaeological Science
- Mediterranean Prehistory
- Public Archaeology
- Structure and Deterioration of Craft Materials
- Technology within Society
- The Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East: A Comparative Approach
- Themes and Debates in Islamic Archaeology and Heritage
Detailed descriptions of the core courses and modules can be found here. Please note not all modules are available every year.
The dissertation will normally combine a professional standard finds report with a theoretically informed academic overview of the particular field, tailored to answer a specific research question. However, with the permission of the Programme Co-ordinator, the dissertation can be on any topic relevant to the degree.
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. Assessment of the core course is by a standard essay, six pieces of short work, a portfolio and the dissertation.
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 modulework. 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.
The collection of data for the dissertation may cause travel expenses. There is a bench-fee for the course which covers lab equipment.
UCL Institute of Archaeology (IoA) Master's Awards: a small number of grants up to the value of £1,000 are available for the academic year 2020/21. 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 2020.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
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 path is working as finds assistants, museum curators or working in the antiquities service (PAS), recording and analysing finds.
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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
Whether you plan a career as a finds assistant, museum curator or plan a 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 IoA cover most areas of the globe and offer an unique ressource for honing your skills.
The UCL Institute of Archaeology is 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.
Department: Institute of Archaeology
What our students and staff say
"It has been amazing to see the growth of public interest in Stonehenge and archaeology more generally in the ten years that we have been running this project."
Professor Mike Parker PearsonArchaeology MA
Professor 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.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
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.
- All applicants
- 11 August 2020
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 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
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.