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MA Field Archaeology

Train to be part of the next generation of archaeological pioneers

Year of entry: 2023 (September)

Length

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

Start date

September 2023 (semester dates)

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QS World Rankings by subject 2022

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QS World Rankings by subject 2022

Establish wide-ranging, advanced practical skills, while gaining a deep theoretical knowledge and understanding of the logistical challenges, legal requirements and ethics involved in archaeological fieldwork.

This challenging and rewarding course offers you the perfect blend of theory and practice, 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. You'll learn to think strategically about project design and tactically about project implementation.

You'll build a deeper understanding of the theoretical, legislative and ethical context of archaeological fieldwork while you study among a community of practitioners that is unrivalled in the UK.

As well as learning from leading figures in the field, you'll be supervised by our experienced, well-connected staff. There are also opportunities for placement experience with professional archaeological organisations, further developing the skills and knowledge essential for varied archaeological careers and research.

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One of the best things about the MA is that experts from the various spheres are brought in to give lectures. We got to hear about the topic from specialists with ‘real world’ experience in the discipline. They maintained contact with us and were helpful when it came to planning essays. This was a great feature of the course and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rachel, MA Field 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. You'll study a variety of modules and then hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic. 

Modules

Core modules

  • Critical Approaches to Archaeological Practice

Option modules

You'll also study five option modules. Examples from previous years have included:

  • Becoming Human
  • Debates in Funerary Archaeology
  • Ancient Biomolecules
  • Animal bones for Archaeologists
  • Experimental Archaeology
  • Histories of Conservation
  • Researching & Analysing Historic Buildings
  • Contemporary Issues in Museums
  • Digital Creativity
  • Digital Approaches to Archaeology
  • Critical Approaches to Archaeological Practice
  • Mesolithic Life and Death
  • The Ancient Celts: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe
  • Roman Europe
  • Making the Nation
  • The Viking Age
  • The Archaeology of the Human Skeleton
  • Thinking through Material Culture
  • Building Conservation Projects
  • Buildings Recording
  • Sustainability I: definitions of sustainability & methods of assessment
  • GIS and spatial analysis
  • Landscape survey and geophysics
  • Heritage Principles and Concepts
  • Prehistoric Art: Origins and Transitions
  • Skeletal Evidence for Health in the Past
  • Zooarchaeology in Context
  • Museums, Audiences & Interpretation
  • Life and Death in Iron Age Britain and Ireland
  • Death, Burial and Commemoration in the Roman World
  • Archaeologies of Colonialism in the British Atlantic World
  • Medieval Settlement and Communities
  • Presenting Historic Houses
  • Understanding & Interpreting Historic Buildings
  • Sustainable Conservation Challenges
  • Sustainability II: understanding sustainability as change through time
  • Artefacts and Materials Analysis
  • Understanding Archaeological Pottery
  • Virtual Reality and 3D Modelling
  • Data Science for Archaeology
  • Project Management
  • Curated Placement

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Dissertation

In the final stage of your course, you will carry out research for your dissertation and give an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic.

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. 

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 field archaeology, an awareness of its breadth and its relevant academic, professional, ethical and socio-economic contexts and apply recent developments in the theory of fieldwork engagements to such practice, taking into account its changing legislative context
  • Engage critically with current debates and advanced scholarship in local and international research and practice within field 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 the practice of field 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
  • Analyse different types of archaeological data, generating integrated interpretations and using leading edge techniques to disseminate results
  • Confidently demonstrate fieldwork skills, notably of project management, in an interdisciplinary context within and beyond the Department

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2023/24

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,990£22,250
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£4,995£11,125
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£3,330£7,417

Students on a Student Visa (formerly 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.

  • 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 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. 

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 2023/24 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.

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 Department of Archaeology is based in King's Manor, in York city centre. The majority of your teaching will take place within the Department, with a small amount taking place 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

Our graduates 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. You'll also develop transferable skills that are applicable to a multitude of careers beyond archaeology and heritage.

Career opportunities

  • Archaeologist
  • Academic researcher
  • Conservator
  • Heritage manager
  • Museum education officer
  • Geophysical surveyor

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
The Field Archaeology course has equipped me with the sensibility of both archaeological practices and theories, which serves as a solid grounding for my current duties of interpreting and curating archaeological data and disseminating archaeological knowledge for greater utility by the public.
Brevis, MA Field Archaeology

Exhibition Curator, Hong Kong Museum of History

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology or a related subject. We also consider applicants who have a 2:2 degree and relevant work experience.
Other qualifications and experience 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.
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
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 176 in Writing and 169 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 International ESOL B2 Communicator: Pass with 39/50 in writing and no less than 33/50 in all others
PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online 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'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 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 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.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Helen Chan, Student Services Administrator
Dr Jim Leary, Course Director

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Department of Archaeology

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