Skip to content
Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses>Funerary Archaeology (MSc)

MSc Funerary Archaeology

Bring past people to life

Year of entry: 2020

Length

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

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

Talk to us

Chat to staff and current students to find out what studying at York is really like. Join us on campus or online.

Meet us

Past societies responded to and treated their dead in a range of diverse 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 of the analysis of human remains. You'll get the chance 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 MSc or as the MA Funerary Archaeology.

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the year. These will be made up of four core modules, two option modules and two shorter 'skills' modules. You will then hone your research skills by producing a dissertation and presenting an assessed lecture on your dissertation topic. 

Modules

Core modules

Option modules

You will study two further 20-credit modules and two 5-credit 'skills' modules from our full range of options. Examples include:

One of these option modules must come from an MSc course which is ideal if you wish to specialise in a particular methodology, eg by taking Ancient Biomolecules or one of the modules offered by the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences, based at Hull York Medical School.

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

Dissertation

You will carry out a piece of original independent research, using appropriate disciplinary skills in an imaginative way. You'll be assessed with a dissertation and assessed lecture (80 credits) 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

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 funerary archaeology, and awareness of its breadth and its relevant academic, professional and socio-economic contexts
  • Engage critically with current debates and advanced scholarship in local and international research and practice within funerary archaeology in order to evaluate the field of practice
  • Inform decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations by assessing and applying advanced, professionallevel funerary archaeology 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 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
  • Confidently apply current theoretical, ethical and methodological debates in funerary archaeology to relevant case studies and contemporary practice
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of human skeletal anatomy, growth and pathology, and explain its relevance to archaeology
  • Assess and evaluate the role of relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary specialisms in the analysis and interpretation of human remains andtheir funerary contexts as applied to research, public and/or commercial practice

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.

Royal recognition

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

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 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 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 the osteology teaching taking place in the PalaeoHub 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

This course will prepare you for roles in a range of sectors, including heritage, commercial archaeology, film/television, journalism and academia. You'll also develop transferable skills that are applicable to a multitude of careers beyond archaeology and heritage.

Career opportunities

Previous graduates have gone into roles such as:

  • 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
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology, Anthropology or a related field.

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.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Learn more

Department of Archaeology

Discover York

Accommodation

We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to premium.

Student life

Explore campus and city life and hear what our current students have to say about living here.

The city

Lively, full of culture and beautiful, York is regularly voted one of the best places to live and visit in the UK.