MSc in Coastal and Marine Archaeology

For information about this programme contact Kevin Walsh or Janine Lyon


The MSc in Coastal and Marine Archaeology offers you a wide range of opportunities to explore and deepen your understanding and research experience of the varied themes and methods of study associated with human settlement and activity in coastal environments.

You will have an opportunity to explore themes relating to the palaeoeconomy and palaeoecology of coastlines, the geoarchaeology of site formation and landscape context, coastline change and submerged landscapes, and the distinctive patterns of social development and symbolic life often associated with coastal settings.


  • Geoff Bailey specialises in the archaeology of coastlines, and also works on Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology, Quaternary landscape history, and palaeoeconomy. He has worldwide interests, experience of working on coastal archaeology in Australia, Europe and South America, and is currently running coastal underwater projects in Britain, the western Mediterranean and the Saudi waters of the Red Sea
  • Penny Spikins works on Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology, with interests in cognitive evolution, hunter-gatherer archaeology in Europe and South America, and submerged archaeological landscapes.
  • Nicky Milner specialises in palaeodiet and consumption practices, shell midden studies, and death and burial. She has excavated shell middens in many parts of Europe, a Mesolithic structure at one of Britain's earliest coastal sites at Howick in Northumberland, and is currently excavating at the Mesolithic site of Star Carr in the Vale of Pickering.
  • Matthew Collins heads BioArch and specialises in the use of biomolecular methods. He is one of the world's leading researchers on ancient protein and has pioneered the development of a robust method of amino acid racemization dating of shell.
  • Oliver Craig specialises in the biomolecular analysis of palaeodiets through the development of methods of isotope and residue analysis, with particular interests in the role of marine foods and the transition to farming.

In addition to these staff, our wider research community includes:

  • Karen Hardy, a former Marie Curie Research Fellow, and now ICREA Research Fellow in Barcelona, who has worked on the coastal archaeology of Scotland 
  • Caroline Wickham-Jones, an Honorary Fellow, and Lecturer at Aberdeen University, who has also worked on the coastal archaeology of Scotland
  • Garry Momber, Director of the Hants and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology and one of the leading exponents in this country of underwater survey and excavation of prehistoric material
  • Kirsty Penkman, an expert in Quaternary geochronology and the amino acid racemization dating of shell


There is a wide range of facilities for students undertaking an Archaeology Masters programme. These 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

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 as a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate in Coastal & Marine Archaeology.

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.

Field trips

The course includes field trips to the nearby coastline of Northeast England. Bordering the North Sea, this offers a varied geological history of coastal change, submergence, and often-dramatic erosion, with evidence of coastal archaeology extending back to the Mesolithic site of Howick on the Northumberland coast, one of the earliest coastal settlements in Britain, and traces of now submerged archaeology and relict forests elsewhere in the intertidal zone.


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
  • In the case of mature students who might not have conventional qualifications, appropriate relevant experience
  • We normally interview applicants before making an offer (except in the case of overseas students)

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 detailed understanding of the significance of coastlines and their contribution to key developments in prehistory
  • a broad knowledge of the different types of evidence and the methods available for their analysis
  • a critical awareness of key debates and unresolved issues
  • developed an ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays and producing projects
  • undertaken a piece of independent research on a topic within the field of coastal and marine archaeology
  • developed presentational skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse themes
underwater excavation at Neustadt Frederich Feulner

An amazing overview of coastal archaeology