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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses 2019/20>Digital Archaeology (MSc)

MSc Digital Archaeology

Master the digital systems that will help you to analyse archaeological data and visualise the past

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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Find out what studying and living in York as a postgraduate is really like.  

Meet us

The MSc in Digital Archaeology provides practical experience and a broad foundation in computing applications that is highly valued in the heritage sector.

Digital archives are a rich resource for knowledge preservation, exchange and dissemination. Digital technologies offer us new ways to understand, interpret and model the past. 

In studying Digital Archaeology at York you will join a department that has been at the forefront of researching and developing archaeological computing applications since the early days of digital practice in the field. We host Internet Archaeology, the first online peer-reviewed e-journal for archaeology. We also house the Archaeological Data Service, the largest and oldest repository for archaeological data in the world.

You'll have access to a full suite of research computing hardware and software and develop knowledge of internet applications, database design and management, Graphics Information System (GIS) technology, CAD and computer modelling systems.

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.

Course content

The MSc in Digital Archaeology is a one year course with core modules that will give you a secure grounding in the digital technologies used for disseminating, publishing and archiving archaeological information, and the analysis and visualisation of archaeological data. These are powerful methodological and analytical tools used across all aspects of archaeological practice, giving you the applied technical skills to flourish in the field of archaeological discovery.

You'll take two option modules from the wide range available to all Archaeology Masters students, allowing you to delve deep into the areas of archaeology that most interest you. You'll also take four shorter modules that will allow you to develop your research skills, before producing an 15-20,000 word dissertation and an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic.

Digital Archaeology Placement

At the end of your second term you'll have the opportunity to gain first hand practical experience through a student placement at a professional archaeological organisation. Placements are offered by organisations including museums, heritage centres and local planning authorities. Although optional, most of our students take up a work placement, as it provides invaluable experience highly sought after in the sector.


You will take a total of 180 credits in the course of your degree, including 40 credits of core modules, 60 credits of option modules and an 80 credit Independent Study Module.

Core modules

Option modules

You will choose two 20 credit modules from a wide range, including: 

You will also choose four five-credit skills modules from a range including:

You will then complete a dissertation and give an assessed lecture as part of the Independent Study Module in the final term.

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


You'll complete a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation, which will allow you to demonstrate your skills in research as well as applying insights from the taught modules. Under the guidance of one or more members of our academic staff you'll be able to develop independent research on a topic of your own choosing.

Examples of previous dissertation topics include:

  • A study of the Wilberforce Memorial School for the Blind using soundscapes
  • Proposal of an archaeological and heritage role-playing video-game of the ancient Roman city of York (Eboracum)
  • Improving the discoverability of zooarchaeological data with the help of natural language processing
  • The use of unmanned aerial vehicles to create 3D landscape models of deserted medieval villages

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 archaeological information systems and awareness of their breadth and relevant academic, professional and socio-economic contexts.
  • Engage critically with current debates and advanced scholarship in local and international research and practice around archaeological information systems in order to evaluate the field of practice.
  • Inform decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professional level archaeological information systems theories and methodologies 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 and 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.
  • Engage in critically self-aware and ethically-informed decision-making in order to develop impactful projects in the field of archaeological information systems which respond to the requirements of specific professional or academic environments.
  • Demonstrate professional-level competence with a variety of technologies used to publish, archive, analyse, visualise and interpret archaeological and heritage information.
  • Apply leading edge theoretical and methodological developments in archaeological information systems to managing the constraints of a workplace in the archaeological sector or in relation to serving specific local communities and real-world stakeholders.
A must for anyone wishing to pursue a career in any aspect of digital archaeology. The blend of practical application and theory, together with superb teaching and facilities, equips you with the skills needed to embark upon a successful career both academically and commercially.
Geoff Arnott, Director, Heritage Technology Ltd

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

See the departmental funding pages for more information on funding options.

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, workshops, practicals, seminars and tutorials. In the Summer Term you will develop your research and presentation skills by producing a dissertation and giving an assessed lecture. You will also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience through a student placement in the professional archaeology sector.


There are two dedicated computer labs at King’s Manor with a range of imaging software, including 3D Studio Max, AgiSoft Photoscan, ArcGIS, AutoCAD and the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.

The department has equipment available for student use including total stations, handheld and differential GPS, drones, Go-Pro cameras, magnetometers, ground penetrating radar, resistivity meters, video-ready DSLR cameras, microphones, an RTI dome and other photography kit.

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is based in King's Manor, at the centre of the city of York. The majority of your teaching will take place there within the Department, with a small amount taking place in Vanbrugh College 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 through essays and practical work including 3D models, websites, films and other forms of digital imaging. Some optional modules assess oral presentations, museum exhibition strategies or other multimedia output. You will also complete a dissertation and assessed lecture based on your dissertation.

Students doing group work on laptops in the Library.
Students in a seminary

Careers and skills

This course offers practical, career-focused training for many essential roles in the professional world of archaeology. By the end of the course you will:

  • have examined how computers are applied in archaeology and their impact on the development of the discipline
  • understand the concept of the internet, be able to find and use relevant information and add materials to it
  • have the skills to evaluate critically the claims made for different computer applications and select the correct application for a given problem
  • have an understanding of authoring tools and be able to create an electronic text
  • have an understanding of database design and be able to design and implement a simple relational database
  • have an understanding of CAD and GIS and be able to create effective applications in each
  • have an awareness of digital archiving principles, resource discovery and metadata.

Career opportunities

  • Archaeological computing
  • Consultancy
  • Archive management
  • Social media management
  • Local government and development
  • Business administration
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Education

Transferable skills

  • High levels of digital literacy, including digital archiving and imaging
  • Data collection and management
  • Critical thinking through and with digital technologies
  • High level of written and oral skills
  • Project management
  • Time management

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

You should have at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent.

English language

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

  • IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing and no less than 6.0 in all other components
  • PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 61 in Writing and no less than 55 in all other components
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 169 in all other components
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 23 in Writing and a minimum of 21 in all other components
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

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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