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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses 2019/20>Funerary Archaeology (MA)

MA Funerary Archaeology

Bring past people to life

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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Past societies responded to and treated their dead in a huge diversity of ways, providing archaeologists with crucial insights into their workings. 

Funerary archaeology combines analysis of human remains with their archaeological context to take a truly interdisciplinary approach to studying both life and death in the past. 

Our course will enable you to use the latest techniques and equipment to build key, practical knowledge and explore the varied archaeological and methodological approaches to funerary archaeology. You'll have the chance to develop your skills in a range of different methods and techniques, but all centred on learning how to investigate death and burial in the past.

The flexible nature of the course enables you to pursue your own particular period or methodological interests by selecting modules that appeal to your research interests. You'll work alongside internationally renowned specialists and gain 'hands on' experience in the analysis of human remains. You'll have the opportunity to learn through field trips to local museums and relevant sites such as the prehistoric monuments in the Yorkshire Wolds.

This interdisciplinary course is available as either an MA or also as the MSc in Funerary Archaeology.

Beautiful surroundings

Study in King's Manor, a beautiful Medieval building in the centre of historic York.

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.

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the year. Fifty credits of this will come from four core modules (two worth 20 credits and two worth 5 credits each). An additional 50 credits will consist of four optional modules (two worth 20 credits and two worth 5 credits each). You will hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic. Your dissertation will be worth a total of 80 credits. 


Core modules

Option modules

You will get to choose two, 20-credit option modules, plus two 5-credit option skills modules. You will be able to select from a wide variety of options.

One of the 20-credit option modules must come from an MA course, this is ideal if you wish to specialise in a particular period, eg Mesolithic, Vikings, Medieval or another time period.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You will carry out a piece of original independent research using appropriate disciplinary skills in an imaginative way. You'll be assessed via a dissertation and assessed lecture on your research.

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

Examples of recent dissertation titles have included:

  • ‘Women are the decorative Sex’: gender and prehistoric burials
  • Understanding Neolithic Childhood
  • Pastoral Neolithic funerary practices in Lake Turkana basin, Northern Kenya
  • Grief and Mourning in the Roman World
  • Coffin-furniture in post-Medieval Manchester
  • A spatial epidemiology of Cribia Orbitala across medieval, south east England, to examine the prevalence of malaria
  • Engaging the public in Funerary Archaeology in museum settings

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.

Field trips are funded by the Department at no additional cost to you.

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.

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. Both core modules have a field trip, with the chance to explore a relevant excavation, museum exhibition or site visit. The core 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 from staff.

Teaching location

The majority of teaching takes place at King's Manor with the osteology teaching taking place in the PalaeoHub. This includes a brand new, state-of-the-art osteology lab, located close to the BioArCh facilities (based on Campus West in the Department of Biology). 

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

This course will prepare you for roles in the heritage sector, commercial archaeology, film/television, journalism and academia.

Career opportunities

  • Funerary archaeology specialist 
  • Museum education/outreach
  • Museum collections
  • Commercial archaeologist
  • Researcher
  • Heritage film-maker
  • Cultural heritage journalist

Transferable skills

  • High level of written and oral skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Numerical literacy
  • Teamwork
  • Project management
  • Time management

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

A good honours degree (upper second or first class) or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in archaeology, anthropology or a related field.

Other qualifications

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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Department of Archaeology

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