MA in Historic Landscape Studies

Course director: Dr Jonathan Finch


The MA in Historic Landscape Studies is designed to integrate the recording, interpretation, appreciation and conservation of historic landscapes in all their diversity. The historic landscape has become increasingly important within contemporary archaeology, which recognises its central role within agendas related to planning, heritage and environmental change. The need to understand how the landscape has developed, changed, how it has been used, exploited and re-shaped is more urgent than ever. It is also a central element to understanding how the past shapes the present, in terms of understanding the landscapes we inhabit as well as understanding how the archaeological resource as a whole has been created and destroyed over the centuries.

This innovative course brings together experts in field archaeology, environmental archaeology, agrarian landscapes and parks and gardens. The result is a comprehensive course that addresses the themes and issues encountered by academics, conservationists and professional archaeologists attempting to undertake the recording, interpretation and conservation of these landscapes.


  • Jonathan Finch: specialises in historic landscape studies. His research has led to publications on medieval regional landscapes, and the relationship between foxhunting and landscape change since the seventeenth century. He is currently working on how landed estates created distinct cultural landscapes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the UK, as well as exploring their global connections through plantation ownership in the Caribbean and North America. He has also co-ordinated a series of exhibitions at four country houses on the life of estate communities, and published a volume dedicated to estate landscapes. He is currently running a fieldwork project at Harewood House, near Leeds, excavating the earlier medieval manor house which was demolished in 1773. 
  • Kevin Walsh: works in the Mediterranean on multiperiod landscape projects in the French Alps and Greece. His particular interest is the history of human/environment interaction throughout the Holocene.
  • Mark Edmonds: interests lay in Prehistory, in particular on the study of landscape and memory and on the social dimensions of technology. He is particularly interested in the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Britain and North-Western Europe.
  • Paul Belford: has a wide range of research interests in historical archaeology, focusing primarily on early industrialisation, religion and identity, colonialism and early exploration, post-medieval urban places and ferrous metallurgy. Paul headed up excavations within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site between 2001 and 2008, examining 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century industrialisation, with a specific focus on social and environmental aspects. Outcomes included the discovery of the first steel furnaces in England, and a profound understanding of 19th and 20th century domestic lifeways; impacts included community archaeology and new approaches to landscape interpretation. Paul also worked at the St. George's World Heritage Site in Bermuda between 2004 and 2007. Fieldwork explored 18th and 19th century domestic, industrial and commercial sites and developed new insights into slavery and landholding during the 18th century.
  • John Schofield: is actively exploring connections between the historic environment, art and memory. With English Heritage he has co-ordinated a major programme of research into military heritage, much of which is now published in various journals and books.  John is currently working with staff at the Desert Research Institute, Nevada on an archaeological survey of the Peace Camp, occupied by nuclear protestors in the 1980s and 90s. He is also working on projects in Greenham Common, amongst the former bars and music halls of Valletta (Malta), at a stasi prison in Berlin.
  • Julian Richards: Head of Department, is a specialist in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age England, especially mortuary behaviour and settlement evolution. He has recently completed a series of excavations at the Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian "productive" site at Cottam, and is now working on a Scandinavian cemetery at Heath Wood, Ingleby.


Elements of the course are taught by experts from the city and region.

The introduction to medieval documents for archaeologists is taught by Chris Webb and his colleagues from the internationally renowned Borthwick Institute for Historical Research. The programme also benefits from its involvement with the Centre for Medieval Studies, which is the foremost interdisciplinary research centre for the medieval period.



Over the autumn and spring terms you will take:

  • two core 20 credit modules
  • two option 20 credit modules
  • four 5 credit skills modules

In the summer you will carry out research for your dissertation and give an Assessed Lecture on your dissertation topic.

Core modules

Recommended option modules

Recommended skills modules

Whilst we endeavour to give everyone their first choice on modules, please note that this cannot always be guaranteed. Please be aware that certain skills modules are required by particular programmes, and so may be more over-subscribed than others.  Please see the Full modules list for scheduling information on option and skills modules, as some run concurrently.


You will need:

  • A good honours degree (upper second or first) or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in archaeology or a related field.
  • Non-graduate applications will be considered from those with three years practical experience related to the conservation or management of historic landscapes.
  • We normally interview applicants before making an offer.

Apply now

First, check our How to apply page, which explains what information the Department needs from you.


When you complete the course, you will:
  • have a knowledge and understanding of research methods appropriate to historic landscape studies
  • understand and critically assess the sources of information pertinent to the study of the historic landscape
  • understand the fundamental concepts, techniques, and current debates relevant to historic landscape studies
  • have developed an ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays under various conditions
  • have undertaken a piece of independent research on a topic within the field of historic landscape studies
  • have presentation skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse themes
Stone wall

I thoroughly enjoyed the year and feel enlightened...I have developed some useful skills