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MA Early Prehistory and Human Origins

Explore what it means to be human

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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What makes us ‘human’? How did early human societies work? How different were Neanderthals from ourselves and why did they die out? What was life like in the Ice Age? Debate these questions and many others within a lively research environment as you build up your knowledge and experience of early prehistoric societies from three million to 5,000 years ago.

The archaeology of human origins is a fascinating and dynamic area of research, with new evidence and theories constantly changing our interpretation of who we are. 

On this course you'll explore the archaeology and approaches to human origins whilst working alongside internationally renowned specialists in early prehistoric archaeology and human evolution. You'll have the opportunity to work on pioneering studies with the potential for significant media exposure and gain ‘hands on’ experience of museum collections at the York Museum. You'll be able to select modules to allow you to explore your own research interests and have the chance to visit Upper Palaeolithic rock art on a field trip to Creswell Crags.

This course is also available as an MSc Early Prehistory and Human Origins.

This course will take you on a voyage of discovery, and the teaching is second to none. You will be encouraged to rethink many of your assumptions and your ideas will be challenged. This course is essential for anyone interested in the antiquity of humankind with its diverse cultures, customs, religions, art and technologies.
Elle, MA Early Prehistory and Human Origins

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 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.

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 dissertation of 15-20,000 words and a related assessed lecture (80 credits total) on your research. The subject of your research will determine whether you graduate with an MA or MSc.

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

Previous dissertation topics have included:

  • Narratives within Upper Palaeolithic cave art
  • The prehistory of compassion
  • Neanderthal children and burial
  • Childhood in evolutionary perspectives
  • Venus figurines
  • Reinterpreting Clactonian and Acheulian assemblages
  • New perspectives on microliths and social status

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 the field of early prehistory and human origins, 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 study of early prehistory and human origins in order to evaluate the field of practice
  • Informed decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professionallevel theories and methodologies in the study of early prehistory and human origins 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 in-depth and systematic understanding and awareness of archaeological and anthropological evidence relating to early prehistory and human origins
  • Show a critical understanding of cultural and evolutionary change in the distant past and issues in interpreting relevant material evidence, in order to develop better understandings of hominin development and human behaviour in the Palaeolithic
  • Demonstrate integration of interdisciplinary perspectives on the archaeological evidence for early prehistory and human origins in order to bring relevant approaches from other disciplines to bear on the interpretation of data

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.

Field trips are funded by the Department.

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.

This course pushes you to re-evaluate concepts of human development and to explore and create your own ideas and explanations. With teaching staff who are at the forefront of this area of study, you are encouraged to challenge accepted theories with calculated debate and discourse.
Robert, MA Early Prehistory and Human Origins

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.

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 occasional 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

This course offers a broad range of essential skills and expertise, specialist knowledge and insight, which are relevant to a wide variety of careers or further study. Many of our students go on to pursue research at PhD level while others have taken up careers in heritage, conservation, the archaeology sector and academia.

Career opportunities

  • PhD level research
  • Heritage careers
  • Conservation work
  • the Archaeology sector work
  • Positions within academia

Transferable skills

  • Time management
  • Awareness of societies and how they work
  • Critical understanding of arguments
  • How to formulate and construct debate
  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
I found my MSc a valuable asset to my career after university and truly feel I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without it. The skills and experience I gained while at York, from time management and research skills to the personal confidence gained in areas such as public speaking and presentation, have been invaluable.
Holly, MSc Early Prehistory and Human Origins

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology, Anthropology or a related field
Other qualifications and experience Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant experience in this field will be considered. 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.

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