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MA Historical Archaeology

Study at the cutting edge of post-medieval archaeological investigation

Year of entry: 2024 (September)

Length

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

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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in the UK for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

in the world for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

Historical Archaeology explores the emergence of the modern world, from the end of the Middle Ages to the 21st century. It is one of the fastest growing areas of archaeology, dealing with many exciting issues that shape the world we have inherited today.

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'll gain practical training in analysing and interpreting evidence, from excavations and standing buildings to designed landscapes and artefacts.

The knowledge and skills you'll develop on this course will provide an unrivalled insight into the past and present, giving you a head start in many heritage or historic careers and research, as well as a range of other sectors.

You'll 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.

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I loved studying Historical Archaeology at York. The MA course was an inspiration! It provided the foundation for my PhD and I was able to turn an interest into a passion, and the encouragement and support I received from my tutors gave me the confidence to turn that into a career.
Annie, MA Historical Archaeology

Beautiful surroundings

York is the UK's archaeological capital. You'll study in King's Manor, a beautiful Medieval building in the centre of the historic city.

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.

Research excellence

Ranked 6th overall for our research according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the duration of your course:

  • Semester 1 - one core and two option modules
  • Semester 2 - one core and one option module, with an 80 credit dissertation
  • Summer Semester - 80 credit dissertation

Modules

Core modules

Your core modules will cover topics such as:

Option modules

You'll also study three option modules:

You'll also have the opportunity to choose options from our full module catalogue. Examples may include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.

Dissertation

You'll complete a 15,000-word dissertation and assessed lecture on your research.

You will receive support, advice and guidance from your dissertation supervisor throughout your project. The range of expertise of our staff means we can provide you with guidance on a wide range of topics. You will have one-to-one meetings with supervisors across Semester 2 and the Summer Semester.

Examples of previous dissertations 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:

  • Demonstrate an applied, systematic, in-depth understanding of essential disciplinary knowledge of historical 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 historical archaeology in order to evaluate the field of practice

  • Inform decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professional-level theories and methodologies relating to historical archaeology 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 understanding of essential knowledge of historical archaeology and the relationships with allied disciplines

  • Critically assess how scholarship from a wide range of other disciplines impacts the study of historical archaeology, including analysis of the types of evidence that are collected and the theoretical frameworks used

  • Demonstrate an in-depth and advanced understanding of how theoretical interpretations and critical skills can be applied in practice to the study of historical archaeology through the analysis of artefacts, landscapes and buildings

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£5,295£11,950
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£3,530£7,967

Students on a Student 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.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

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.

Funding information

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

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

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

Funding opportunities

We have a variety of funding options available within the department.

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 has a real focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which is matched by the staff expertise and this means that your seminars are often at the forefront of contemporary archaeological thinking. The members of staff are so passionate about the subject and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Max, MA Historical 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.

Teaching format

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

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is based in King's Manor, in York city centre. Your teaching will take place across both King's Manor and Campus West, depending on your chosen option modules.

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
  • Alternative assessment methods such as film-making, blogging or posters

Careers and skills

Over the course of the year, you'll develop 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

  • Archaeologist
  • Heritage manager
  • Business administrator
  • Academic researcher
  • Chartered surveyor
  • Museum education officer

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology or a related field such as History, History of Art, Geography or English Literature.
Other qualifications and experience 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.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 169 in all other components
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 7 in writing and no less than 6 in all other components
Duolingo 120, minimum 120 in production and 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 70 in Writing and no less than 65 in all other components
KITE 459-494, with 459-494 in writing and 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Merit in writing and Pass with Merit in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
TOEFL 87, minimum 23 in Writing and 21 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't 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 English language test 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.

Applying

You can apply and send all your documentation online. 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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Contact us

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Postgraduate Student Services Team
Dr Caitlin Kitchener, Course Director

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Department of Archaeology

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