MSc in Archaeological Information Systems

Course director: Prof Julian D Richards & Sara Perry (Acting Director, 2012-2014)


The MSc in Archaeological Information Systems is designed for people who have a basic grounding in computer literacy and an interest in archaeology and heritage, and who wish to follow vocational training in archaeological information systems.

Whilst providing a broad background to the subject, there is the possibility through the placement and dissertation to specialise in a technique or type of approach that is of particular appeal and to gain valuable practical experience.


Staff involved with MSc teaching are listed below, with their current research interests in archaeological computing.

  • Michael Charno: Digital Archivist & Web Developer, ADS: GIS and Spatial technologies
  • Tim Evans: Digital Archivist: electronic archives and publication
  • Jo Gilham: Digital Archivist, ADS: databases, GIS, XML, XHTML
  • Helen Goodchild: Fieldwork & Project Officer: GIS
  • Anthony Masinton: Computing Officer: VR modelling; visualisation and recording
  • Sara Perry: Lecturer in Cultural Heritage Management: digital heritage, social media, visualisation
  • Julian D Richards: Professor of Archaeology; Director ADS; Co-Director, Internet Archaeology: databases, GIS, Internet applications
  • Penny Spikins: Senior Lecturer in the Archaeology of Human Origins: GIS
  • Dr Holly Wright: European Projects Manager, ADS: Web design, Semantic Web, Linked Data


Excellent research computing facilities are available within the Department of Archaeology, including a well-equipped spatial computing laboratory, with plotters, digitisers and scanners.

The Archaeology Data Service and the e-journal Internet Archaeology are both hosted in the Department of Archaeology and several members of departmental staff also have significant ongoing research interests in computer applications, making York one of the largest centres for research into archaeological computing in the United Kingdom.

Other facilities for all Masters students include:

  • Dedicated IT suite with a full range of software including generic and specialist archaeological packages and computing support from two highly experienced experimental officers
  • A comprehensive range of state-of-the-art field survey equipment which postgraduates can normally use for their project work (and can gain experience with via the skills modules we offer)
  • A wide range of lab facilities for archaeological analysis including environmental and artefact processing as well as the bioarchaeological facilities on campus
  • A well stocked library with access to electronic resources, and study areas both in the Kings Manor library and the library on campus
  • The Kings Manor includes a common room and refectory open to all staff and students, and WiFi is available across the Kings Manor



Over the autumn and spring terms you will take:

  • two core 20 credit modules
  • two option 20 credit modules
  • four 5 credit skills modules
  • one 20 credit optional placement module

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

This programme is also available for study for a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Archaeological Information Systems.

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.

Work experience placement


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.
  • Other applicants may be considered in exceptional circumstances, for example those with considerable ICT experience.
  • You will be expected to provide evidence of some basic familiarity with a range of ICT applications and an aptitude for computer-based skills. We interview most applicants, unless you live or work overseas.

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 examined how computers have been applied in archaeology and the impact of their use on the development of the discipline
  • understand the concept of the Internet and locate and use relevant information on it and create materials to add to it
  • have the skills to evaluate critically the claims made for different computer applications and select the correct application for a given problem
  • have an understanding of authoring tools and be able to create an electronic text
  • have an understanding of database design and be able to design and implement a simple relational database
  • have an understanding of CAD and GIS and be able to create effective applications in each
  • have an awareness of principles of digital archiving, resource discovery and metadata

Many of our graduates go onto careers in archaeological computing, working in contract units, county-based Historic Environment Records, or founding their own consultancy businesses. Some apply their computing skills in a more mainstream archaeological work, in museums, or in the wider world. Some pursue further research at doctoral level.

Aleks Render

The AIS course is a MUST for anyone wishing to pursue a career in any aspect of ‘digital archaeology’. The blend of practical application and theory, together with superb teaching and facilities, equip you with the skills needed to embark upon a successful career both academically and commercially.

Geoff Arnott, MSc Archaeological Information Systems 2006-7; Director, Heritage Technology Ltd. 2008-