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MSc Digital Archaeology

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

Year of entry: 2020

Length

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

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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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. 

This course provides practical experience and a broad foundation in computing applications that is highly valued in the heritage sector. 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.

At York, we've 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, as well as the Archaeological Data Service, the largest and oldest repository for archaeological data in the world.

Many of our graduates go on to careers in archaeological computing, working in contract units or county-based records organisations. Others apply their computing skills in more mainstream archaeological work, in museums, or in a variety of other fields.

I chose to study Archaeology because I have a deep and abiding fascination with the past. The University of York offers an outstanding programme and location. The assessed lecture and the opportunity to work with professional researchers as peers were most rewarding. York is an amazing heritage city and there is no end to the joys and rewards of living in North Yorkshire.
Ash, MSc Archaeological Information Systems (now Digital Archaeology)

Computer Modelling & SQL Server Applications
Tucson, Arizona, USA

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.

Royal recognition

We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2011 in recognition of our dynamic research community and teaching excellence.

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.

Modules

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

Core modules

Option modules

You'll choose two 20-credit modules from a wide range, including: 

You'll also choose four shorter skills modules from a range including:

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

Dissertation

You'll complete a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation (80 credits), which will allow you to demonstrate your skills in research as well as applying insights from the taught modules. You'll then present your research in an assessed lecture. 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

Placements

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.

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, MSc Archaeological Information Systems (now Digital Archaeology)

Director, Heritage Technology Ltd

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £8,040£18,240
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£4,020£9,120
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£2,680£6,080

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.

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

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 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.

Facilities

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, in York city centre. 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 option 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. The digital knowledge you'll develop, including transferable skills such as database design, will leave you well prepared for a wide range of technology-focused careers in archaeology, the heritage sector and beyond.

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
The degree has propelled my career and on my return to the USA has opened the door to many opportunities where GIS is integral to the position. In my current role, my GIS background has allowed me to change the way we work by streamlining our efforts for more effective disaster support.
Eric, MSc Archaeological Information Systems (now Digital Archaeology)

Historic Preservation Specialist, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent

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:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 176 in Writing and 169 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 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.

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.

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