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MA Archaeology of Buildings

Open a doorway to the past of our historic buildings

Year of entry: 2020

Length

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

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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Train in the systematic research, recording, analysis and interpretation of historic buildings.

Through a combination of academic studies, practical training and research projects, you will learn the specialised skills required for the historical research, visual analysis and archaeological recording and interpretation of buildings. You'll gain a foundational knowledge of the history of architecture in the UK, from c.1000 to the present day. The course will allow you to explore current intellectual and professional research priorities in the archaeology of buildings and introduce you to conservation legislation, policy and practice. You'll leave with excellent research and communication skills relating to the research, analysis and interpretation of historic buildings.

The course brings together experts in buildings survey and recording, archive research, legislation and policy, conservation, theoretical interpretation and computer modelling to deliver a dynamic course, which will equip you with the specialist skills and knowledge required for a career in researching, managing, interpreting and conserving historic buildings. Specifically, you will gain valuable experience in archive research, photogrammetry and other 3D recording methods, CAD drawing, and computer modelling of historic buildings.

For me, my MA year was one of the most memorable. Not only did I develop a range of skills that have enabled me to confidently pursue a career in archaeology, but I also made friends for life. I now have an amazing job with English Heritage and I still regularly work with my fellow students.”
Charlotte, MA Archaeology of Buildings

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.

Royal recognition

We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2011 in recognition of our dynamic research community and teaching excellence.

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the year. These will be made up of two core modules, two option modules and four shorter 'skills' modules. You will then hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic. 

Modules

Core modules

Option modules

You will study two further 20-credit modules and three 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.

Dissertation

You will carry out a piece of original independent research, using appropriate disciplinary skills in an imaginative way. You'll be assessed with a 15-20,000 word dissertation and assessed lecture (80 credits) on your research.

During this process you will have regular meetings with their supervisor who will offer support, guidance and encouragement throughout.

Placements

Optional work placements provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical experience of working in the professional buildings sector. Your placement will draw on and contribute to the knowledge and experience you have gained, while enabling you to develop new insights, understanding and expertise in buildings archaeology. You'll gain experience of buildings archaeology in a professional working environment and consolidate your knowledge and understanding of procedures and issues gained through the taught modules. Placements usually take place in term time, or over the Easter or Summer periods. We assist you in finding the right placement, however you will be responsible for meeting any costs associated with the placement such as travel to and from a different location.

Upon successfully completing these placements you will have:

  • gained experience and knowledge of how building recording and research inform conservation and heritage practice, under the guidance of experienced professionals
  • developed experience in practical applications, facilitating critical reflection on the theoretical and philosophical issues raised in both core modules

Placement providers

Although the organisations offering placements change from year to year, the following list is a good indication of the choices likely to be available:

  • English Heritage
  • National Trust
  • Council for British Archaeology
  • York Civic Trust, including Fairfax House Museum
  • York Conservation Trust
  • The Churches Conservation Trust
  • Diocese of York 
  • Architects such as Purcell, Ferrey and Mennim
  • City of York Council
  • Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
  • York Archaeological Trust
  • West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
  • Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture
  • North Yorkshire Moors National Park

Take a look at Buildings Archaeology students putting their experience into practice on a landmark survey and conservation project at York Minster (YouTube video).

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 buildings 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 buildings archaeology in order to evaluate the field of practice
  • Inform decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professionallevel theories and methodologies for buildings 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
  • Apply knowledge of buildings archaeology and architectural history to inform the phased analysis of the stratigraphic development of historic buildings and inform the production of appropriate forms of written record
  • Visually analyse historic buildings to inform the selection of an appropriate level of measured survey and production of appropriate forms of drawn and photographic record.
  • Understand the role of relevant disciplinary, interdisciplinary and professional specialisms in the analysis, interpretation and presentation of historic buildings and their significance.

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.
£4,020£9,120
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£2,680£6,080

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 that you buy your own copies. You may wish to set aside a small budget for photocopying, depending on how you like to work.

If you decide to take up an optional placement, you'll have to fund the travel costs to placement yourself.

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

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 quality of teaching I experienced and the opportunity to develop while at York allowed me to pursue my own ideas. Having contact with external speakers also provided an excellent balance between the academic and practical, so that I could develop skills that were relevant to the professional workplace, such as building survey and practical conservation.
Alexander, MA Archaeology of Buildings

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 will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, with an emphasis on student led-discussion and presentations. The skills modules are hands-on, practical classes, lasting four hours each. These are taught in small groups of 12, so there is plenty of one-on-one guidance with staff.

Facilities

You'll 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 based in King's Manor, in York city centre. The majority of your teaching will take place there within the Department, with additional teaching 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
  • Alternative assessment methods such as film-making, blogging or posters

Careers and skills

You will gain practical skills and research training that provide excellent preparation for a range of careers. Graduates from the course are now well-established across the heritage sector, in leading architectural practices, archaeological units, heritage organisations and charities, both nationally and internationally. You'll also develop transferable skills that are applicable to a multitude of careers beyond archaeology and heritage.

Find out what our alumni say about the course.

Career opportunities

Previous graduates have gone into roles in a variety of organisations such as:

  • Field Archaeology Specialists (FAS Heritage)
  • Oxford Archaeology
  • URS Corporation
  • Purcell Architects
  • AOC Archaeology Group
  • Pre-Construct Archaeology
  • Headland Archaeology
  • Arc Heritage
  • York Archaeological trust
  • English Heritage
  • National Trust
  • Historic Scotland
  • Historic Royal Palaces
  • West Yorkshire Archaeology Service
  • MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)

Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Recording and analysis
  • Execute surveys
  • Use structural analysis
  • Research skills
  • Debate and discuss
  • Direct own, independent work
  • Work with others as part of a team
  • Communicate orally, in writing, and in graphical forms
A few days after handing in my MA dissertation I had a field test and interview for my role as an investigator in English Heritage’s assessment team. My work involves using a wide variety of documentary and cartographic evidence alongside fabric analysis, and my ability to identify, critique and summarise sources rather than passively accept them has been invaluable.
Katie, MA Archaeology of Buildings

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology, History of Art, Architectural History or a related field.
Other qualifications and experience The course is suitable for students and mid-career professionals seeking to develop or enhance an academic or professional specialism in buildings archaeology. To find out if your professional experience or qualifications are appropriate, please contact the Course Director.

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:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 176 in Writing and 169 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'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.

Applying

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.

We interview most applicants, unless you are living or working overseas. 

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