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HumanitiesPostgraduate study

V400 MA Palaeolithic Archaeology and Human Origins - 1 yr(s)

This course aims to examine the rich, global archaeological evidence for the study of our earliest origins, using Palaeolithic and Quaternary archives, and provides you with the basis for future research work.

Introducing your degree

Studying a Masters in Palaeolithic Archaeology and Human Origins immerses you in theories and archaeological evidence of mankind's earliest beginnings. Setting you up for future research projects, the masters degree course attempts to answer some of the biggest archaeological questions posed. You will have the opportunity to examine the development of the modern day Homo sapien, dietary concepts and disease treatments.

Programme Overview

A Masters in Palaeolithic Archaeology and Human Origins is one of the most important, evolving archaeological disciplines you can study. By extrapolating information on where we have begun, we can determine as a species where we are going,  The history of the Homo sapien provides the foundation for scientific development in almost every field, including changes on how dietary concepts and disease treatment  is addressed. This programme offers a unique opportunity to study the material evidence of our evolutionary history.       

You will be trained in the practical analysis of Palaeolithic stone artefacts and encouraged to place this knowledge into a broad framework based on current interdisciplinary research. This will enable you to investigate the key questions in human evolution, including the development of technology and language; to understand the reasons why society evolved; and to participate in the long-running debate about the fate of the Neanderthals.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

To apply for a postgraduate course please visit the How to Apply page or click on the apply button below.

Application process and required supporting documents

  • University online application including a personal statement
  • Transcript
  • 2 references
  • English language (if relevant)

If you have a question or would like further information, contact our admissions team:
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 8062

Programme Structure

This programme is divided into 180 credits. 105 credits are obtained from taught modules with the remaining 75 credits relating to the dissertation.

Key Facts

Duration: 1 year (full time); 2 years (part time)

Start date: October

Funding: AHRC Block Grant; Humanities studentships may be available

Closing date: 1st September

Dissertation Length: 25,000 words

International students

The Southampton pre-Masters can be taken if you have qualifications or grades that do not meet University of Southampton direct entry criteria but meet the minimum entry criteria for the pre-Masters further details). You will be guaranteed a place on your chosen masters degree programme subject to successfully completing the pre-Masters. Visit our pre-Masters Programme to find out more about these degree programmes.

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Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements


First- or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in archaeology, anthropology, history or a cognate discipline.

English Language

IELTS 6.5 overall, with minimum of 6.5 in reading and writing, 6.0 in speaking and listening, or equivalent in other approved English language test.

Selection process

Intake: 8-15

Average applications per place: 3

Academic entry requirements: First or upper second class honours degree, or equivalent in archaeology, anthropology, history or a cognate discipline.

English language entry requirements:   IELTS 6.5 overall, with minimum of 6.5 in reading and writing, 6.0 in listening and speaking, or equivalent in other approved English language test.

Selection process: Online application

Interview may be required on a case by case basis to assess suitability of course

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

Two core modules cover the analysis and interpretation of stone tools and the context of human origins covering the past two and half million years.

Opportunities are provided to master practical skills in making, describing and analysing stone artefacts. Teaching is through seminars and practicals, divided between two semesters, and assessment is continuous. A module in research study skills is also provided, and two option modules are taken from the flexible Humanities MA programme.

The dissertation is a key component of the MA allowing you to explore a topic in depth, apply your new analytical skills and make a contribution to research. The last four months of the course is devoted to this component.

Year 1

Please note that we cannot gaurantee certain courses (ARCH6121 and ARCH6117) will always be taught in the semester they are advertised in - this information should be used primarily as a guide.

Students may consider taking a 'free elective' - they shuold contact the MA Convenor if they wish to take a non-Archaeology option.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Learning & Assessment


Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:

Printing and copyingWhere possible, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour). Please note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. You will be given a printing allowance of £1 per 7.5 ECTS ARCH towards the costs of printing lecture handouts and/or practical scripts. The University Print Centre also offers a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here: They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters. Details of current costs can be found here: £0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentLaboratory equipment and materials: All laboratory equipment and materials are provided.
FieldworkEquipment and materials: During your degree you are likely to go on a number of fieldtrips and to take part in fieldwork. The exact number and nature of these trips will depend on your module and fieldwork choices. However, wherever and whatever you do you are likely to need access to waterproofs, sturdy shoes or boots, a sun hat and a small rucksack. For some sites you may be asked to have steel toed boots. For those qualified to do so, you may become involved in diving projects. In these circumstances you would normally be required to bring/hire your own mask, fins, snorkel, knife, exposure suit and dive watch (and if possible, dive computer).
EquipmentIT: Computer discs or USB drives Students are expected to provide their own portable data storage device.
EquipmentIT: Software licenses All software is provided.
EquipmentIT: Hardware It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.
ClothingLab coats and safety spectacles: One laboratory coat and a pair of safety spectacles are provided at the start of the programme to each student.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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