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MA Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology

Discover how humans have shaped the earth

Year of entry: 2020/21


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

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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Explore topical issues ranging from human-environment interaction to rock art in the landscape, with unparallelled access to rich natural resources for landscape study in the Yorkshire Moors, Dales and Wolds.

Gain a unique perspective on landscape archaeology as you focus on human ecology and the interactions of people with their environments. You'll examine case studies from many different periods and areas around the world to understand different approaches to the study of landscape change. You'll also investigate the varying lifeways of humans through the ages, and how people have interacted with the natural world since early prehistory.

With guidance from leading researchers and experienced academics, you'll develop your understanding of the recognition, recording, interpretation and conservation of archaeological landscapes and build key practical skills in surveying, GIS, geoarchaeology and aerial photography.

Inspiring surroundings

York is the UK's archaeological capital. You'll be based in King's Manor, a beautiful Medieval building at the heart of the city.

Course content

You'll study two core modules, examining approaches to landscape archaeology and addressing issues and methodologies of interpreting the cultural landscape. You'll 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.

Option modules will allow you to tailor your degree to your individual interests, and explore related avenues. You'll also develop your research skills with a variety of both wide-ranging and specialist modules.

The Summer Term and vacation will be dedicated to researching and writing your dissertation. You'll also give an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic.


Core modules

Option modules

You will study two further 20-credit modules and four 5-credit 'skills' modules from our full range of options. Examples include:

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


You will carry out a piece of original independent research, using appropriate disciplinary skills in an imaginative way. You'll be assessed with a dissertation and assessed lecture (80 credits) on your research.

You will have regular meetings with your supervisor who will offer support, guidance and encouragement throughout the dissertation writing process.

Examples of recent dissertation titles 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

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:

  • Demonstrate an applied, systematic, in-depth understanding of essential disciplinary knowledge of landscape archaeology, and awareness of its breadth and its relevant academic, professional and socio-economic contexts
  • Engage critically with current debates and advanced scholarship in local and international research and practice within the field of landscape archaeology in order to evaluate the field of practice
  • Inform decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professionallevel landscape archaeology theories and methodologies to diverse problems or forms of data
  • Confidently synthesise research findings and key scholarly debates, and communicate (through a variety of forms and media) to peers, public or professional audiences in such a way that demonstrates an ability to consider and adapt to their respective needs
  • Demonstrate originality in rigorous and imaginative independent inquiry, using advanced research skills, and a clear contribution to the work of a team
  • Demonstrate an applied, systematic understanding of the relationship between people and landscape during the preand proto-historic periods and relevant interdisciplinary contexts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary specialisms (archaeology physical geography, geoscience) in the analysis and interpretation of prehistoric archaeological landscapes
One of the most fulfilling aspects of this course were the skills modules on topics such as remote sensing and aerial photography. The application of the skills that I learnt in these modules has greatly enhanced my current work and will continue to do so in the future.
Jessica, MA Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £8,040£18,240
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

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

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

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.

The course was enjoyable and engaging. The wide range of modules allowed me to tailor my study to areas relevant to my own interests, and encouraged me to advance my own areas of research.
Martyn, MA Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

We're making changes to comply with rules on social distancing. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students

Teaching format

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, with an emphasis on student led-discussion and presentations. You'll also partake in field trips, where you'll undertake first-hand research.


At York, you'll have access to a huge range of unique facilities.

In King's Manor, we have:

  • our own teaching rooms and a state-of-the-art lecture theatre
  • a specialist library with dedicated study spaces
  • a large lab space for working with artefacts, soil and environmental samples, and skeletal remains
  • computer labs with printers, scanners and specialised photo software, digital drawing and mapping software
  • a wide range of specialist archaeological equipment

On Campus West, near the Environment Building, we also have our own purpose-built Bioarchaeology labs. A dedicated experimental archaeology centre is located nearby. You'll also have full access to the main campus library and other University resources, including the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is located in King's Manor, in the city centre. Most of your teaching will take place here. Our BioArCh and Palaeo facilities are located in or near the Environment Building on Campus West, around 30 minutes walk from the King's Manor.

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

Core modules will be assessed through the submission of essays. As well as extended independent study, your dissertation will require you to present your research in an assessed lecture.

Other assessment methods will vary according to the modues you choose, but could include practical exams, coursework, portfolios or reports.

Careers and skills

This course will build up your knowledge and understanding of research methods, as well as providing a thorough grounding in the fundamental concepts, techniques and current debates relevant to landscape archaeology. You'll be able to understand and critically assess information sources, gather and organise information and arguments to form independent and develop presentation skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a diverse range of topics.

All of these skills are applicable to wide range of careers in archaeology, landscape conservation and beyond, as well as further study, research and academia.

Career opportunities

Previous graduates have gone on to work in:

  • public archaeology services such as English Heritage, Historic Scotland and CADW
  • international, national and local archaeological agencies
  • private archaeology units
  • national parks
  • heritage and conservation organisations

Transferable skills

  • time management
  • critical thinking and evaluation
  • theoretically/methodologically-informed decision making
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • project management
I’m now working 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.
Kendra, MA Prehistoric Landscape Archaeology
Project archaeologist, Golder Associates Ltd (Canada)

Entry 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.

Please note our next recruitment round for this course will be for 2020 entry. For more information, contact

We normally interview applicants before making an offer.

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Department of Archaeology

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