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MA Mesolithic Studies

Shine a light on an under-explored field of research

Year of entry: 2019


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

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

This course provides an important overview of the European Mesolithic, exploring the ways in which the period has been interpreted from the 19th century, up to the present day. It also explores key topics such as technology, consumption practices, death and burial, plants and animals, and settlement, drawing on the research carried out in the department which is a globally renowned centre for mesolithic studies.

You'll have the opportunity to learn about recent, cutting-edge research on several Mesolithic excavation projects, including nearby Star Carr, site of the oldest house and oldest carpentry in Europe, Howick in Northumberland, and coastal shell middens in Europe. 

The lack of research in this area means that there is a huge amount waiting to be discovered, and you could find yourself becoming a leading specialist in the field and getting involved with pioneering projects and research. You'll even have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of experimental archaeology in our Mesolithic camp. You'll also learn about cutting-edge techniques, such as ancient DNA and stable isotope analysis, and climate-change reconstruction. 

Course content

You'll study 180 credits over the duration of the course. You will study two core modules (worth a total of 40 credits), and six option modules, two of which are longer modules (worth 40 credits) and four which are shorter skills modules (worth a total of 20 credits). Finally, you will hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic (worth 80 credits).


Core modules

Option modules

You will also study two further 20-credit modules and four shorter 'skills' modules from this table

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 an assessed lecture on your research.

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

Examples of previous dissertations include:

  • Assessing the extent to which ritual behaviour towards animals can be identified from Mesolithic faunal remains
  • Demonstrating coastal identity: burials and shell middens in Mesolithic Europe
  • Coastal consumption in the Irish Mesolithic
  • An assessment of seasonality of shellfish from the site of Baylet
  • An evaluation of the exploitation of eels in Mesolithic Europe
  • Searching for Mesolithic sites in the Vale of Holderness using LiDAR data
  • The treatment of the dead in Britain, 13,000-3000 BC
  • Artefact biographies of the Star Carr barbed points


You will have the opportunity to handle artefacts on this course, which may also include some experimental archaeology. In addition, you can volunteer to work on post-excavation processing in the lab, which might include refitting flint, or processing environmental samples. We have contacts across Europe and, for students who might wish to get experience on a Mesolithic archaeological dig, we can provide links to excavations where possible. You would need to fund such activities yourself.

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 a thorough understanding of the history of research and the theoretical approaches in Mesolithic Studies
  • show a broad foundation in the key aspects of Mesolithic lifeways
  • show that they have developed a critical understanding of the key debates in the period
  • demonstrate an ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays under various conditions
  • undertake a piece of independent research on a topic within the field of Mesolithic archaeology
  • show presentation skills through the delivery of seminar papers on a range of diverse themes

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.

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'll be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, field work and lab-based practicals.

Teaching location

Much of the teaching on this course takes place at King's Manor in the centre of York. 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

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.

Careers and skills

Many course graduates go on to further specialist research at PhD level, many of which have been funded, and then pursue careers in academia. Others have gone into a range of careers, from teaching and digital archiving to commercial archaeology work and wilderness training.

Career opportunities

Some of the organisations our past students now work for include:

Transferable skills

  • Time-management
  • Handling and management of diverse data sets
  • Producing syntheses of data
  • Being able to critically evaluate the work of others and yourself
  • Discussing ideas and interpretations within a group setting
  • Communicate in verbal and written forms to a professional, academic standard

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
  • A good honours degree (upper second or first class) in a relevant subject, or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution in archaeology, anthropology, biology or related fields. 
Other qualifications

Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant appropriate experience will also be considered. 

If you are uncertain whether your qualifications or experience are appropriate, please contact the Course Director for more information.

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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