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MA Field Archaeology

Train to be part of the next generation of archaeological pioneers

Year of entry: 2019


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

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

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This course offers you the perfect blend of theory and practice, equipping you with wide-ranging, advanced practical skills, while giving you a deep theoretical knowledge and understanding of the logistical challenges, legal requirements and ethics involved in archaeological fieldwork. It is both challenging and rewarding.

This is a flexible course, devised to meet demand for professional training in the UK and worldwide. It will give you a thorough knowledge of how, and why, archaeological fieldwork has arrived at its current state and acquaint you with the key methods employed in modern fieldwork, analysis and dissemination. It will enable you to think strategically about project design and tactically about project implementation.

You have the opportunity to develop wide-ranging advanced field skills. You'll build a deeper understanding of the theoretical, legislative and ethical context of archaeological fieldwork whilst you study among a community of practitioners that is unrivalled in the UK. You'll develop skills and knowledge essential for varied archaeological careers and research and learn from leading figures in the field. Added to that you will receive close personal mentoring from experienced, well-connected staff as well as gain the opportunity for placement experience with professional archaeological organisations.


Course content

You will undertake a total of 180 credits. These will be made up of two core modules (worth 20 credits each), two option modules (worth 20 credits each) and four skills modules (worth 5 credits each). You will hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic which will be worth 80 credits in total. 


Core modules

Option modules

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

Examples of previous dissertation topics include:

  • The Methodology and Techniques in Stratigraphic Identification and Interpretation: The Case in Hong Kong Field Archaeology. 
  • Including the Community: The Reality of Public Archaeology in the Professional Realm. 
  • A Comparison of Romano-British Identity Formation: The Personal Ornaments of Pre- and Post-Roman Britain. 
  • Finding Swinside’s Lost Circle: Its Location and Significance. 


Alongside the taught course, at the end of your second term you will have the option of gaining experience in a student placement with a professional archaeological organisation.

Placements give you a valuable opportunity to put the knowledge and skills you have learned into practice and to further develop your skills and expertise. Although optional, most students take the placements as they not only provide excellent experience, but are an invaluable addition to your CV.

During your placements you may get involved with the following:

  • developing a practical understanding of how archaeological fieldwork is planned and carried out in an integrated way.
  • gaining detailed knowledge of how ecofactual or artefactual assemblages might be identified, quantified, analysed and interpreted.
  • becoming familiar with the ways in which field archaeology is organised and administered, and of the pressures it is subject to, working with a local government organisation or national organisation with offices in York.

Although the organisations providing placements vary from year to year, according to availability, those regularly offering such opportunities include City of York Council, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the York Archaeological Trust, AOC Archaeology and various other commercial archaeology units, plus community groups in and around the city.

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:

  • developed an awareness of the organisational and legislative context within which fieldwork operates in the UK
  • gained a detailed knowledge of the varied techniques of site evaluation used today
  • become aware of the practicalities, and problems, of implementing archaeological projects and understood the implications of this for strategy and project design
  • grasped the processes of analysing stratigraphic, spatial, artefactual and palaeoecological material, the objectives of this work, and how it is managed
  • surveyed the range of mechanisms for synthesising, archiving and disseminating the evidence generated by fieldwork
  • developed your understanding of how the profession operates in “the real world”, through work placements and field visits
  • developed your ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner, through writing essays and producing projects
  • undertaken a piece of independent research on a topic within field archaeology
  • developed your presentational skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse topics

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

Some modules include field trips. Costs associated with attending field trips are covered by the department.

Placements are unpaid and there may be travel costs associated with attending them, however, if this is an issue, other placements can be considered which do not have travel costs associated. 

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.

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.

A treasure trove of archaeology

With historic buildings and significant remains from the Roman, Viking and Medieval periods, York has an impressive concentration of 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 will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars and field visits.

Teaching location

The majority of your teaching will take place at King's Manor in the city centre. Additional teaching may take place at 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

The MA in Field Archaeology is a flexible course, devised to meet demand for professional training in the UK and worldwide. It will give you a thorough knowledge of how, and why, archaeological fieldwork has arrived at its current state and acquaint you with the key methods employed in modern fieldwork, analysis and dissemination. It will enable you to think strategically about project design and tactically about project implementation.

Career opportunities

Postgraduates have gone on to pursue research degrees or take up managerial positions working for museum, conservation and archaeological services and for local councils, national authorities, field units and heritage bodies. Other graduates have set up their own archaeological businesses, both within the UK and in other countries. Some of the organisations now employing our students include:

Transferable skills

  • Time-management
  • Awareness of organisational and legislative contexts
  • Skills in site evaluation
  • Problem solving, often on a complex scale
  • Methods of analysis
  • Organise information
  • Construct arguments in a logical and ordered fashion
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication skills

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
  • A good honours degree (upper second or first class) or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in archaeology or a related subject.  
  • Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant professional experience in this field will be considered. 
  • Candidates lacking sufficient previous experience will be required to spend at least three weeks prior to entry on either one of the department’s own training excavations or another approved project. 
  • To find out if your experience or qualifications are appropriate, please contact the Course Director. We normally interview applicants before making an offer. 

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability

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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