The Public Archaeology MA at UCL is a unique programme in a rapidly growing sector. It provides students with an understanding of the different means of communicating archaeology to the public, and of the real-world political, educational, social, economic and moral/ethical dimensions of public archaeology from a global perspective.
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.
Select your country:
About this degree
Students are introduced to the range of areas in which archaeology has relevance to the wider world, and develop an understanding of how archaeology is communicated, used (and misused) in the public arena. The flexible programme structure allows students to design a theoretically based or practically based degree depending on each individual's interests and needs.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of a core module (30 credits), optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (90 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Public Archaeology.
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.
Students are required to take the following module:
- Public Archaeology
You are then able to choose further optional modules to the value of 60 credits. At least one of these must be taken from the list below of modules recommended for this degree programme. The other 30 credits may also come from this list or can be chosen from amongst an outstanding range of other Master's programmes offered at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.
- African Heritage
- Antiquities and the Law
- Archaeology and Education
- Archaeologies of Modern Conflict
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas I: First Peoples to Emerging Complexity
- Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas II: Empires, states and settlement
- Cultural Memory
- Digital Heritage: Applications in Heritage Management
- Heritage Ethics & Archaeological Practice in the Middle East and Mediterranean
- Managing Archaeological Sites
- Managing Museums
- Museum and Site Interpretation
- Sources and Social Research Methods for Heritage and Archaeology
- Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Foundations
- Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology: Current Issues
Detailed descriptions of the core courses and modules can be found here. Please note not all modules are available every year.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words (90 credits).
Examples of past projects include:
- exploring the educational value and potential of archaeological archives
- evaluating community archaeology in the UK and China
- the uses of contemporary art in archaeology museums
- uses of the past in Belize and other post-colonial nations
- archaeology, identity and consumerism in Tintagel, Cornwall
There is no compulsory fieldwork element of the programme, but we aim to offer (non-compulsory) field trips to museums and heritage sites.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars discussions, practical demonstrations, and (where possible) field trips to museums and archaeological sites and monuments around the UK. It features guest lecturers with first-hand experience in the archaeology, museum, cultural and heritage sectors. Assessment is through essays, project reports and the dissertation.
In the core course module there are approximately 80 hours of lectures, seminars and other classroom-based activities. Students are expected to spend roughly double that time in preparing for lectures, primarily focused on assigned readings. The contact hours in option courses will vary, as will the time for assignments and projects, depending on the nature of the module.
The field trips for this course are optional. The majority of costs for field trips are covered by the department including travel, accommodation, and entry to sites and museums. The only additional costs to students are meals during the trips.
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.
Heritage and Museums Diversity Scholarship: The UCL Institute of Archaeology is funding a heritage diversity scholarship for a candidate from black and minority ethnic backgrounds as these groups are currently under-represented within the heritage sector. The scholarship covers course fees only for a UK/EU student.
For further details and an application form please see here.
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 graduates of the programme go on to PhD studies while others pursue careers in professional organisations associated with the archaeology, museum, cultural and heritage sectors. Students benefit from the practical real-world insights and contacts within these sectors that the programme offers. Career paths in these sectors include the growing fields of education and interpretation in museums and heritage sites; policy and research jobs in organisations such as the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, English Heritage and Arts Council England; and the growing interest in public archaeology within commercial archaeological organisations worldwide.
Graduates of the Public Archaeology MA have a distinct set of skills and knowledge that equips them for work across the archaeology, heritage and museum sector. This includes an in-depth understanding of the structure of the sector and its socio-economic, political and cultural contexts, but also a very practical appreciation of public understanding and engagement with the past. These strengths are reflected in the diversity of career paths amongst graduates of the Public Archaeology MA programme, in archaeology, museums, the heritage industry and academia.
Why study this degree at UCL?
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. Students benefit from London's many museums, galleries and other archaeological spaces, but in particular have easy access to UCL's own museums and collections, which form a resource of international importance for academic research.
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 suitable both for people interested in academic study of the relationship between archaeology and the wider world, and for people wishing to pursue a career in public archaeology, museums and the wider heritage industry. It is particularly suitable for graduates with a first degree in archaeology, anthropology, history or classics.
- 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 Public Archaeology at graduate level
- why you want to study Public Archaeology at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to this programme
- how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
Applicants need a general archaeological background to be eligible for direct entry onto this degree. Applicants without this may wish to consider our Graduate Diploma in the first instance.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.