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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses 2019/20>Historical Archaeology (MA)

MA Historical Archaeology

Study at the cutting edge of post-medieval archaeological investigation

Year of entry: 2019
Show year of entry: 2020


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time,
3 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

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Historical Archaeology explores the emergence of the modern world, from the end of the Middle Ages to the 21st century, using a wide range of material and documentary sources. 

Historical Archaeology focuses on the relatively recent documented past, usually the last 500 years, and the emergence of the modern world. It is one of the fastest growing areas of archaeology, dealing with many exciting issues that shape the world we have inherited today, and drawing together a rich and diverse range of material, documentary and landscape sources. You will have the chance to explore dynamic and globally significant themes, from capitalism to colonialism.

You will gain practical training in analysing and interpreting evidence, from excavations and standing buildings to designed landscapes and artefacts. You will have the chance to develop knowledge and skills that will give you a head start in many heritage or historic-environments and other graduate careers and research. The skills you will develop on this course at York will provide an unrivalled insight into the past and present, and prepare you for a wide range of jobs and careers, as well as further research.

Course content

You'll study a total of 180 credits through the duration of this course. You will study two core modules (each worth 20 credits), two option modules (each worth 20 credits) and four shorter skills modules of your choice (5 credits each). In the final term, you will develop your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture. Your dissertation will be worth a total of 80 credits. 


Core modules

Option modules

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

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


In your final term of study, you will carry out research for your dissertation and give an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic (worth a total of 80 credits).

Recent examples of previous dissertation topics include:

  • The legacy of lead production in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
  • An assessment of patterns of estate tree and woodland planting, in the nineteenth century.
  • An examination of the social relationships articulated in eighteenth century estates in Co. Cork, Ireland.
  • Picturing the Poor: the visual construction of rural poverty in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • From Garden City to Council Estate: the development of Tang Hall, York.
  • The Woolsey Trunk: nineteenth century childhood identity and the life course in Sacramento, California.
  • Landowners and industrialisation: investigating the relationship between the Duke of Bedford and the 19th century mining landscape of the Tamar Valley.
  • Gertrude Jekyll’s York designs: an examination of the relationship between the Arts and Crafts home and the landscape.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • be familiar with current research agendas and a broad range of issues in historical archaeology.
  • demonstrate detailed knowledge of topics and themes using material from Britain, Europe, North America, Africa and the Caribbean.
  • show they have developed key skills to organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner in written form and in presentations.
  • undertake an extended piece of independent research on a topic of their choice in the field of historical archaeology.
  • deliver a short lecture on a chosen topic in historical archaeology.

Beautiful surroundings

Study in King's Manor, a beautiful Medieval building in the centre of historic York.

Feel at home

Informality is one of our distinctive qualities - the atmosphere in our department is friendly, supportive and enthusiastic. We want you to develop your potential and thrive at York.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee
Part-time (3 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

We don't anticipate there being any additional fees associated with this course. All books and resources you need will be available in the library or online and it isn't mandatory to buy your own copies. You may wish to set aside a small budget for photocopying, depending on how you like to work.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll be taught via a combination of lectures, workshops and tutorials.

On the course you will examine themes such as the development of consumption and capitalism, colonialism and globalisation from British and international perspectives. The subject spans from the unique experience of Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries to consider the global impact of changing economic, political and cultural values as the modern world took shape.

You will examine data sources including excavated material alongside material culture from museums and collections, standing buildings, landscapes and documentary sources of all kinds, which relate to both the UK, its former colonies and the wider world.

Teaching location

The majority of teaching takes place at King's Manor in the centre of York, along with other locations on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed by a variety of methods. Depending on which modules you opt to take, these could include: 

  • Essays
  • Oral presentations
  • Report writing
  • Dissertation
  • Or alternative assessment methods such as film-making, blogging or posters

Careers and skills

This course is ideally suited to students from a wide range of backgrounds, which need not necessarily include Archaeology. The course appeals to anyone interested in the material culture and landscapes of the post-medieval period. Past students have included graduates of History, Art History, Heritage, English Literature and many more subjects, as well as mid-career professionals looking to enhance their knowledge, expertise and qualifications.

The course provides you with highly valued and transferable skills, knowledge and experience essential for a wide variety of careers. Many students go on to further study or take up employment with a range of organisations both within and outside the heritage sector, including the civil service and law firms, heritage consultancies and museums.

Career opportunities

Course postgraduates have gone on to work with many organisations, including landscape and environmental consultancies, professional bodies, heritage organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust, the media and museums.

Others have used the skills gained to pursue careers in other sectors, including:

  • Local government and development
  • Civil service and law
  • Chartered surveying
  • Computing and IT services
  • Business and administration
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Education
  • Accountancy and financial services
  • PhD or further study


Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Appraise complex information
  • Organise information
  • Formulate arguments in a critical and independent manner
  • Research skills
  • Effective communication

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
  • A good honours degree (2:1 or first class) or an equivalent qualification in Archaeology or a related field, such as History, History of Art, Geography or English Literature.
  • Non-graduate applications will be considered from those with three years practical or professional experience, broadly related to the topics within historical archaeology or those disciplines listed above.
  • Applicants are normally interviewed before an offer is made.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability.  We accept the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing and no less than 6.0 in all other components
  • PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 61 in Writing and no less than 55 in all other components
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 169 in all other components
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 23 in Writing and a minimum of 21 in all other components
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Department of Archaeology

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