Archaeology Palaeoanthropology (MSc)

Master of Science
Typical Offer
2:1 degree View full entry requirements
1 year
Course Type
Next course starts
September 2024

About this course

Explore the evolution, biology and behaviour of humankind through the study of our Stone Age ancestors. With this specialist master’s in palaeoanthropology you’ll gain expertise in the analysis of stone tools and hominin skulls to understand our evolutionary journey. You’ll work closely with experts in our Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins (CAHO) and benefit from opportunities to apply your learning in real-world settings.

We're ranked 7th in the UK for archaeology (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2022).

Your specialist palaeoanthropology learning will cover:

  • handling and interpreting stone tools
  • the role of evolutionary models, experimental testing, primatological data and ethnographies in the study of human origins
  • developing methods to interrogate meaning from collections of stone tools
  • using SPSS statistical analysis software
  • Palaeolithic symbolism and language, migration and responses to environmental change

Beyond your specialist modules you can personalise this palaeonthropology MSc to your areas of interest.

We bring expertise together from across the University, including Medicine, Humanities, the National Oceanography Centre, Engineering and Winchester School of Art, to help you gain both scientific skills and cultural understanding through a range of optional modules.

This is a very practical degree, but you don’t need prior knowledge of biology or anthropology. You’ll be based in our dedicated John Wymer Laboratory, with its own specialist library and large collection of stone tools and hominin skulls. Staff, PhD students and MSc students work in the same space, creating a lively learning environment. As a student on this course you automatically become a member of the CAHO research group.

You’ll have the opportunity to apply your skills on a 4-week placement, where you’ll gain valuable real-world experience of the archaeology sector and heritage industry. Previous placements have included Historic England, Wessex Archaeology and The Nautical Archaeology Society.

This  Palaeoanthropology course offers a balance between vocational and research skills. During your dissertation you’ll be able to embed with one of our research groups to do original research on a topic of that you choose. There is the possibility that this work will be published.

Southampton is close to the World Heritage sites of Stonehenge and Avebury and we have research projects engaged with both sites, as well as a range of other archaeological projects across the Globe.

If you’d prefer a less specialised archaeology master’s degree, or you’d like to focus on a different specialism, you can choose from our 3 other Archaeology MSc pathways. When you join us you’ll have 2 weeks in which you can change pathway if you wish.

Flexible study

If you prefer, you can apply to study this course as:

  • a part-time master's - study the same course content over 2 or more years

Your modules and fees may vary if you choose a different study option.

We regularly review our courses to ensure and improve quality. This course may be revised as a result of this. Any revision will be balanced against the requirement that the student should receive the educational service expected. Find out why, when, and how we might make changes.

Our courses are regulated in England by the Office for Students (OfS).

Course lead

Dr John McNabb is a Senior Lecturer in Palaeolithic Archaeology. He has collaborated on publications and studies on British Lower Palaeolithic sites. 

His core research expertise includes:

  • interpreting the behaviour of ancient human ancestors, based on the analysis of ancient material culture, primarily stone tools, or on site based contextual data
  • historical research on the development of human origins as an intellectual question in Victorian and Edwardian society

Since joining us at Southampton he's worked on a number of projects, completed his African research, and developed new interests in the history of Human Origins research. For more information view Dr John McNabb's staff profile

Related pathways

Your other Archaeology MSc pathway options are:

  • Archaeology - personalise your study of archaeology and build real-world skills through a heritage or archaeological placement with this QS top 30 Archaeology Master’s.
  • Archaeology Bioarchaeology - gain specialist skills in human anatomy and faunal analysis to make sense of the past. Benefit from dedicated archaeology laboratories and specialist research.
  • Archaeology Higher Archaeological Practice - discover our archaeological practice master's degree at the University of Southampton. Learn how to get a job in archaeology and commercial archaeology.

Course location

This course is based at Avenue.

Awarding body

This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.

Download the Course Description Document

The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.