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MSc Funerary Archaeology

Bring past people to life

Year of entry: 2024 (September)

Length

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

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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in the UK for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

in the world for archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

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.

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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.

Course content

You will study 180 credits over the duration of your course:

  • Semester 1 - two cores and one option module
  • Semester 2 - one core and one option module with an 80 credit dissertation
  • Summer Semester - 80 credit dissertation continued

Modules

Core modules

Option modules

You'll study two option modules. Examples from previous years have included:

You'll also have the opportunity to choose options from our full module catalogue:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Dissertation

You'll complete a journal style 10,000-word dissertation and assessed lecture on your research.

You will receive support, advice and guidance from your dissertation supervisor throughout your project. The range of expertise of our staff means we can provide you with guidance on a wide range of topics. You will have one-to-one meetings with supervisors across Semester 2 and the Summer Semester.

Examples of previous dissertations include:

  • ‘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 Cribra Orbitalia 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, professional-level 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

  • Apply 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 and their funerary contexts as applied to research, public and/or commercial practice

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£5,295£11,950
Part-time (3 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.
£3,530£7,967

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

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.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

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, seminars and workshops with an emphasis on student led-discussion. The core modules offer you the chance to gain hands-on practical skills, and go on a field trip.

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is based in King's Manor, in York city centre. Your teaching will take place across both King's Manor and Campus West, depending on your chosen option modules. The osteology teaching will take place in 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

  • Funerary archaeology specialist
  • Museum education and outreach
  • Commerical archaeologist
  • Heritage film maker
  • Researcher
  • Cultural heritage journalist

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in Archaeology, Anthropology or a related field.
Other qualifications and experience Mature students or those with less conventional qualifications but with relevant professional experience and enthusiasm for this field will be considered. To find out if your professional experience or qualifications are appropriate, please contact the Course Director.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

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:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with a minimum of 176 in Writing and no less than 169 in all other components
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 7 in writing and no less than 6 in all other components
Duolingo 120, minimum 120 in production and 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 70 in Writing and no less than 65 in all other components
KITE 459-494, with 459-494 in writing and 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Merit in writing and Pass with Merit in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 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 haven't 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 English language test 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 online. 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

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Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Postgraduate Student Services Team
Dr Penny Bickle

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Department of Archaeology

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