MA in Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology

Course director: Dr Kevin Walsh

 

At a glance

Explore human-environment interaction through the ages

Why choose this course?

This course offers a unique perspective on landscape archaeology, focusing on human ecology and the interactions of people with their environments. It takes you beyond isolated archaeological sites, buildings or artefacts to explore their context in the wider landscape. You will investigate the varying lifeways of humans through the ages, and how people have interacted with the natural world since early prehistory.

  • Study landscape archaeology from the perspective of human ecology – from early prehistory to the 19th century
  • Explore topical issues ranging from human-environment interaction to rock art in the landscape
  • Access the region’s rich natural resources for landscape study in the Yorkshire Moors, Dales and Wolds
  • Learn from world-leading researchers in landscape archaeology
  • Use the latest techniques to build key practical skills in surveying, GIS, geoarchaeology and aerial photography
  • Receive careers and research advice from knowledgeable and experienced staff

image1 - Protohistoric tombs

What does the course cover?

The course explores the links between landscape theory and practice, and provides a broad foundation in the recognition, recording, interpretation and conservation of archaeological landscapes. The course comprises modules that assess the development of landscape archaeology and the range of approaches and methods employed in this increasingly important field of study. You will examine case studies from many different periods and areas around the world to understand different approaches to the study of landscape change.

Who is it for?

The MA in Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology is designed for students with an interest in how people have engaged with landscapes and the environment during the prehistoric and protohistoric periods. Students with a background in archaeology, physical geography, environmental science or history are particularly suited to this course.

What can it lead to?

This MA opens the door to a variety of archaeological and landscape heritage careers, as well as further research or PhD study. Past students have gone on to work with public archaeology services such as English Heritage, Historic Scotland and CADW, private archaeology units, National Parks and related organisations. See what our alumni have to say about the course:

“The flexibility of the MA meant that I was able to enhance and maintain my interest in the later prehistoric landscapes of Britain. It allowed me to apply the theoretical and practical skills that I learnt within the course to my investigation of such landscapes.”

Jessica Murray (2012), DPhil student, University of Oxford

“I chose to study at York because I felt that the MA Landscape Archaeology programme had the best combination of independent yet supported learning opportunities in a city that is truly remarkable to live in.”

Kendra Patton (2011), Project Archaeologist

Course content

Access pioneering landscape theory, practice and insight

This one-year MA course is taught via a combination of lectures, seminars and field trips. You will study two core modules, two optional modules and four shorter skills modules of your choice. Finally, you will hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your chosen topic.

image2 - Serre de l'Homme

AUTUMN AND SPRING TERMS

During the autumn and spring terms, you will study two core modules, each worth 20 credits. These are:

Concepts of landscape
Examine approaches to landscape archaeology and address issues associated with interpreting the cultural landscape. Consider the development of landscape archaeology and the theoretical frameworks that underpin it. Address the key methodologies, including mapping and geographical information systems.

Themes in the prehistoric landscape
Develop a detailed understanding of the key themes in prehistoric archaeology, such as human-environment interaction, ideas of marginality and the nature of power and ideology in the landscape. Analyse and interpret different activities in the cultural landscape and review published work.

You will study two further 20-credit modules and four shorter 'skills' modules from this table

We always try to give everyone their first choice of modules, although this cannot be guaranteed. Some skills modules required by particular programmes may be over-subscribed. Take a look at the full modules list for scheduling information, as some modules run concurrently.

SUMMER TERM

In your final term of study, you will carry out research for your dissertation and give an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic.

Previous dissertation topics have included:

  • A spatial analysis of prehistoric sites in a selected region, employing a Geographical Information System.
  • The use of LiDAR data in landscape archaeology.
  • The research potential of historic landscape characterisation and portable antiquities data in the assessment of landscape change.
  • The study of settlement abandonment in Mediterranean landscapes.
  • The impact of past societies on Yorkshire landscapes.
  • Theoretical assessments of human-environment interactions, considering changes in attitudes to nature over time.

This programme is also available for study as a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Landscape Archaeology.

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of this course was the option to take skills modules on topics such as remote sensing and aerial photography. The application of the skills that I learnt within these modules has greatly enhanced my current work and will continue to do so.

Jessica Murray (2012), DPhil student, University of Oxford

Staff

Learn from prominent landscape archaeologists

Teaching for this course is conducted in small groups by experienced and respected academics in landscape archaeology. Seminars feature student-focused discussion, while practical training is used to teach relevant skills.

image3 - Field system Grassington

Course Director Dr Kevin Walsh provides the principal teaching, guidance and leadership for this course. Kevin works in the Mediterranean on multi-period landscape projects in the French Alps and Greece. His particular interest is the history of human-environment interaction throughout the Holocene.

Additional teaching, support and practical training is provided by other archaeological specialists who lead various optional modules on the course. These include Dr Jonathan Finch and Prof John Schofield. Specialist technical input is provided by our Project and Fieldwork Officer, Dr Helen Goodchild.

“My time at York allowed me to develop a great combination of practical field techniques, as well as research and writing skills, that have enabled me to take on new opportunities and succeed.”

Kendra Patton (2011), Project Archaeologist

Careers

Open the door to varied archaeological careers and research

The MA in Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology enables you to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of research methods appropriate to Landscape Archaeology
  • understand and critically assess the sources of information pertinent to the study of Landscape Archaeology
  • understand the fundamental concepts, techniques and current debates relevant to Landscape Archaeology
  • gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays under various conditions
  • undertake independent research on a topic within the field of Landscape Archaeology
  • develop presentation skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse themes‌‌‌

The skills and knowledge gained on the course are applicable to wide range of archaeological and landscape conservation careers, as well as further study, research and academic careers.

image4 - Coring at Stymphalous

Past students have gone on to work for international, national and local archaeological agencies, public archaeology services, private archaeology units, National Parks and related heritage and conservation organisations.

Find out what some of our alumni have said about the course and how it improved their career prospects.

“The wide range of modules allowed me to tailor my study to areas which were relevant to my own interests, and encouraged me to advance my own areas of research, which I am now seeking to expand for PhD study.”

Martyn Thomas (2014), freelance site assistant

Alumni

Where next? A word from our alumni

Alumni of the MA in Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology have gone on to pursue further archaeological study, as well as varied careers in archaeology and associated sectors.

Here’s what some recent graduates had to say about the course:

Jessica Murray (2012), currently DPhil student, University of Oxford

“I am currently a final year DPhil student on the Atlas of Hillforts in Britain and Ireland project at The University of Oxford. The flexibility of the MA meant that I was able to enhance and maintain my interest in the later prehistoric landscapes of Britain. It allowed me to apply the theoretical and practical skills that I learnt within the course to my investigation of such landscapes. One of the most fulfilling aspects of this course was the option to take skills modules on topics such as remote sensing and aerial photography. The application of the skills that I learnt within these modules has greatly enhanced my current work and will continue to do so in the future.”

Martyn Thomas (2014), currently working as a freelance site assistant

“The Landscape Archaeology course was enjoyable and engaging. The wide range of modules allowed me to tailor my study to areas which were relevant to my own interests, and encouraged me to advance my own areas of research, which I am now seeking to expand for PhD study.”

Kendra Patton (2011), currently working as a project archaeologist in Canada for Golder Associates Ltd. 

“I chose to study at York because I felt that the MA Landscape Archaeology programme had the best combination of independent yet supported learning opportunities in a city that is truly remarkable to live in. I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on skills modules, and focused on survey and GIS methods. I also really appreciated that even during summer field work my supervisor was available to read through dissertation drafts.

“I’m now working as a Project Archaeologist for a geotechnical engineering company in Canada, where I have the opportunity to do a little bit of everything: excavation, artefact analysis, research and report writing. My time at York allowed me to develop a great combination of practical field techniques, as well as research and writing skills, that have enabled me to take on new opportunities and succeed.”

Entry

How to apply

To apply for this course, you will need:

  • A good honours degree (upper second or first class) or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in archaeology or a related subject.

or

  • For non-graduate applicants, three years’ practical experience in the conservation or management of landscapes.

To find out if your experience or qualifications are appropriate, please contact the Course Director. We normally interview applicants before making an offer.

apply now button

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

 

 Kevin Walsh

The MA in Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology encourages you to look beyond individual archaeological sites and consider how people moved around, interacted with, used and adapted the landscape in which they lived. The flexible structure of the course and its varied content mean it can be oriented towards either vocational or further research outcomes, as well as offering a comprehensive suite of practical skills training.

Dr Kevin Walsh