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Archaeological Practice (MA)

The MA in Archaeological Practice is designed to develop practical skills for post-excavation analysis ranging from environmental analysis to artefact handling and analysis.

There is an emphasis on developing skills necessary for project management and/or working in the heritage industry.

There is also an Archaeological Specialist Pathway offering apprenticeships for those already working in the industry.


You can apply directly to the University using the Apply Now button at the top of the page. 

Request Information
Contact Email: n.nayling@uwtsd.ac.uk
Contact Name: Prof Nigel Nayling

Tuition Fees 2023/24:
Home: £7,800
Overseas (distance/online): £10,400
Overseas (on-campus): £15,000
Fees are for the whole course

Why choose this course?

  1. Practical, hands-on engagement with a range of post-excavation techniques in the laboratory;
  2. Working with excavation and survey material currently being researched by your lecturers’
  3. The opportunity to develop project management skills;
  4. You’ll be taught by experienced university lecturers who are specialists in their fields.
  5. You’ll gain research skills which will be a sound basis for further study, as well as a range of important skills that can be easily transferred to the workplace.

What you will learn

Course Overview

This MA has been developed for Archaeology graduates and other students who wish to become archaeological practitioners in the field. It is designed specifically to allow these students to acquire practical skills in handling and interpreting post-excavation materials. A key aspect of the program is its hands-on approach, with handling exercises and laboratory-based learning. This is thoroughly embedded within a theoretical framework appropriate to current archaeological interpretation, which provides students with the skills to present the archaeological material in a variety of media to diverse audiences.

In Part One, each module is worth 30 credits and in addition to the one compulsory module, students have a choice from the list of optional modules noted below.

In Part Two, students are given the opportunity to research in detail a topic which has particularly appealed to them and write an extended dissertation (for 60 credits). Students will be allocated a supervisor to help guide them through their dissertations.

(An Archaeological Specialist MA for graduates already working in archaeology, as part of an apprenticeship scheme is also available - blended learning)

Module Topics

Part I (PG Cert, PG Dip & MA)

Archaeological Research Methods (30 credits; compulsory)

This module provides students with a detailed understanding of current archaeological research, theoretical perspectives, research agendas and knowledge production. The aim is to equip students with the intellectual skills to synthesise, contextualise and interpret primary archaeological data within relevant theoretical frameworks.

Practical Skills for the Archaeologist (30 credits; optional)

This module is a hands-on laboratory-based module which encourages students to develop the necessary skills to handle, analyse and interpret a variety of archaeological data, both environmental and anthropogenic. It provides students with a detailed understanding of how key questions about the past might be addressed through the processing, analysis and interpretation of a diverse range of archaeological materials. Students also develop the skills needed to present their findings in a variety of media including archaeological reports.

Archaeological Project Design and Delivery (30 credits; optional)

This module provides fundamental skills in project design and management.  The module examines legal requirements, professional standards and guidelines relevant to investigation and the processing, publication and storage of data and materials. It considers the different roles of clients, stakeholders and project team members and how to ensure effective communication between them.

Heritage in the Political World: Communities and Comparative Aspects (30 credits; optional)

This module explores the connections between heritage activity and the socio-political contexts in which it is undertaken. Students interrogate how the past is conceived, created and represented in (and by) different social agents (individuals, communities, heritage organisations. The module develops a critical understanding of concepts and theories relating to the creation and representation of tangible and intangible heritage and explores and public engagement with these heritage materials. (optional)

Unravelling Heritage: History, Theory and Methods (30 credits; optional)

This module enables students to explore the connections between Heritage activity and the political, legal and institutional contexts in which it is undertaken and to investigate how the past is conceived and represented in (and by) various Heritage agencies and providers. The module covers various methodologies, approaches and ethical issues faced in Heritage Studies and provides a critical understanding of the political, legal and institutional frameworks within which Heritage is conceived and practised.

Introduction to Digital Humanities (30 credits; optional)

This module is a practical skills-based module. It engages with new forms of historical enquiry supported by emerging digital humanities. Students will acquire basic skills in programming, web design, database construction and XML. In exploring the design, creation, management and use of digital resources in the humanities students will interrogate the potential usefulness and limitations in historical research.

Work Placement (30 credits; optional)

This module gives students the opportunity to work in the heritage/museum (and related) industry for up to 4 weeks. Students develop a critical understanding of work-related issues and an awareness of professional standards and make a valid contribution to the aims, objectives or of the organisation or practitioner concerned.

Part II (MA)

MA Dissertation Archaeological Practice (60 credits; compulsory)

In Part Two, students are given the opportunity to research in detail a topic which has particularly appealed to them and write an extended dissertation (for 60 credits). Students will be allocated a supervisor to help guide them through their dissertations.


The modules are assessed by a variety of assessment methods: reports, essays, object analyses, comparative analyses, short assignments, oral assessments and one 15-000-word dissertation.

Key Information

Entry Criteria

Applicants are expected to have a good first degree (a first or upper second), although every application is considered in its own merit, so places may be offered on the basis of professional qualification and relevant experiences. Candidates with a lower degree classification or no degree may be admitted at Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma level, with an opportunity to upgrade to Master’s level if satisfactory progress is made.

Career Opportunities

This programme is ideal for those who have an archaeology degree but would like more practical module choices to help them improve their job prospects in archaeology.

Additional Costs

Students may spend up to £300 per year on books and additional related materials.

Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Bursaries and Scholarships section.

Further Information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about the University or about this course in particular.