About this course
This vocational master’s degree will prepare you for a career in commercial archaeology. Through hands-on experience you’ll gain the skills to plan and run archaeological projects, from survey and excavation to analysis and reporting. You’ll apply your learning by spending 4 weeks on professional placement.
We’re ranked Top 30 in the world for archaeology (QS World University Rankings, 2019).
Your specialist archaeological practice learning will cover:
- processes and workflows of the heritage industry and commercial archaeology
- professional report writing
- statutory and local government systems for recording and protecting cultural heritage
- presentations and exhibitions
- how to design and manage archaeological projects
Beyond your specialist modules you can personalise this degree 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. You’ll have full access to a wide range of dedicated facilities and specialist teachers to develop your practical skills. These include:
- a dedicated library
- a large collection of stone tools and hominin skulls
- specialist isotope labs and a scanning, imaging and micro-CT suite
- an extensive collection of human and animal skeletons
You can develop your practical skills further when you take part in a 3-day field trip to the West Devon and Cornwall World Heritage Site. Here you’ll conduct an environmental impact assessment using geographical information systems, computer-aided design and remote sensing.
We have relationships with a number of leading heritage institutions and companies. You’ll spend 4 weeks on placement with one of these institutions, 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.
In addition to your vocational training you'll develop advanced research skills. For your dissertation you’ll undertake original research on a topic that you choose. There's 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 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.
Dr Alison Gascoigne is an Associate Professor in Medieval Archaeology at the University of Southampton. She is an Islamic Archaeology specialist, focusing primarily on the earlier medieval Middle East and Central Asia. She has directed field projects in Egypt, and has also worked in Afghanistan.
She has particular interest in processes of cultural change in the conversion period of early Islam and beyond, and how such changes manifest themselves in material terms.To date her archaeological investigations have targeted provincial urban sites, where she examines cultural change at the large scale (urban form), as well as the small scale (the household/domestic assemblage, with particular interest in ceramics).
For more information view Dr Alison Gascoigne's staff profile
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.
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 Palaeoanthropology - Discover our Palaeoanthropology master's degree at the University of Southampton. Learn to analyse stone tools and hominin skulls to understand our evolution.
This course is based at Avenue.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the programme specification
The programme specification sets out the learning outcomes of this course and details how the course is taught and assessed.
You’ll need the minimum of a 2:1 degree in archaeology, anthropology, geography, biology, history or a related subject.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Recognition of professional experience
If you’ve been away from formal study for some time we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
Your studies will run for a full year, from September to the following September.
If you’d like to take longer to complete this master’s you can study part-time over 2 to 5 years.
If you decide that you’d like to change to a different archaeology specialism within the first 2 weeks of term you’ll be able to change your degree.
Throughout your studies, we’ll encourage you to engage with the wider research community through attending and presenting at seminars, workshops or conferences. In the summer you’ll focus on your personal research project, which you’ll complete with guidance from a personal supervisor.
What you'll study:
You'll take 2 compulsory modules that focus on specialist archaeological project management knowledge and placement experience.
Alongside your compulsory specialist modules, you can choose modules from the full range of available archaeology modules. You can also:
- include up to 30 credits from final-year undergraduate archaeology modules
- choose to study a module from another University department, subject to the approval of the course leader
Each module requires at least 150 hours of study time. As a full-time student you’re likely to be on campus up to 4 days a week.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2021-22
Year 1 modules
You must study the following module:
The dissertation is a personal research project which is completed with guidance from a personal supervisor. It takes place primarily over the summer period and should involve original research and high-quality formal presentation of material. The word li...
You must also choose from the following modules:
This module will cover the practical skills necessary to identify, record and interpret animal bones from archaeological sites as well as the techniques used for the study of animals in human life in the past. You will learn methods of identification of ...
A basic appreciation of the cultural phases and events that took place in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean region from Prehistory to Late Antiquity will be assumed as a prerequisite of the module. With this in hand a thorough examination of the maritime...
This fifteen credit module will introduce you to the theoretical, ethical, logistic, technical and legislative issues that have to be addressed if the theory and practice of archaeology are to be successfully applied in the investigation of sites underwat...
Seafaring lies at the heart of human activity across the world and has taken place from the earliest times to the present day. Reflecting this, in recent years the study of seafaring has become an increasingly important area in our understanding of the hu...
The first portion of the module comprises the learning of the basics of human osteology and palaeopathology. The second portion is more theoretically driven and integrates bioarchaeology with skeletal analysis, including topics such as age, gender, ethnic...
The module will focus on the major questions which have been, and are being, asked of Palaeolithic data. These include such issues as language origins, global colonisation, population replacement, and hominin responses to palaeoclimatic and palaeoenviron...
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process required in many countries to predict the consequences of proposed projects (e.g. construction) or policies (e.g. ground water management). This includes assessing the impact on cultural heritage assets. ...
This module explores human evolution in terms of physiological, social and cultural adaptations. It explores human ecology in the broad sense, combining not just cultural and social variability, but also physiological adaptations in past and present-day h...
This module aims to acquaint you with Geographic Information Systems including their use for mapping and analysing archaeological sites and landscapes, and to explain the broader context of their application to a range of archaeological research and manag...
Iron Age Europe witnessed the divergence of a ‘classical' Mediterranean world, whose culture included such features as states, towns, coinage and literacy, from a ‘barbarian' world to the north, where these features developed only much later, if at all. T...
This module examines the major social, economic and cultural developments that took place in England during the period between c. 800 and c. 1100 AD. It makes use of evidence from diverse disciplines, including the study of documentary, archaeological, ar...
The towns in which the Romans lived are some of the most familiar features of the Roman world. Although they seem to look and feel like modern towns, they actually worked in quite different ways, a reflection of the fact that ancient Roman society was dis...
This module will introduce you to the key theoretical and technical concepts used in maritime archaeology, along with its evidence base. It has been designed to provide an accelerated learning curve for those who are new to the subject area, developing c...
As maritime archaeology becomes an increasingly mainstream part of the discipline of archaeology, public awareness of the importance of protecting, managing and disseminating maritime cultural heritage assumes a heightened importance. At the same time, cl...
This module examines the central role of technology in archaeological constructions of social life. It integrates techniques for the investigation of materials in archaeological science with discussions of social theory. Case studies from a range of diffe...
The extraction and characterization of ancient molecules and the measurement of stable and radioactive isotopes has revolutionized archaeology over the past two decades and remains at the cutting edge of archaeological science. From the the identification...
The module provides an introduction to the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt. The module provides a broad sweep of Egyptian history from the Predynastic through to later periods. It introduces aspects of death, burial and commemoration, compares an...
The waters of the world have frequently served to connect rather than divide communities, leading to water transport becoming of vital importance to society. The remains of ships and boats thus constitute a key primary source for maritime archaeology. Th...
The module comprises 2 sections; the first comprises seminars based upon current theoretical and methodological developments within palaeopathology and bioarchaeology, whereas the second portion comprises development of detailed skeletal and palaeopatholo...
By the end of this module you will be familiar with digital photogrammetry in archaeology and the visualisation of photogrammetric datasets. You will also have a basic grounding in key methods in photogrammetry and be able to create accurate and detailed ...
In this module we will examine how knowledge about the past is presented in museum exhibition and display. We will look at current practices in exhibition design and discuss the contemporary literature on communicating heritage to a range of audiences. Yo...
A key component of higher archaeological practice is the development of archaeological vocational skills, and the application of what is learnt at university in the working environment. The archaeological methods and skills taught at university have diver...
This module is designed to equip students with the essential core skills to engage with higher-level archaeological practice within the UK and overseas. By this, we refer to activities beyond routine fieldwork procedures such as survey and excavation. The...
The Neolithic period heralds some of the most momentous changes in human history; it is the period when prehistoric people began to live in permanent settlements and adopted agriculture. In Britain, this period is dominated by rich evidence for large monu...
Learning and assessment
You will acquire knowledge beyond routine fieldwork procedures and develop skill sets commonly used in professional archaeological practice.
We'll teach you through lectures, seminars, role-play practical sessions and field trips. Depending on the further modules you pick, learning highlights include:
- designing exhibition proposals
- Total Station training
- producing publication standard written reports
- site mapping and analysis with Geophysical, GIS, LiDaR remote sensing
You'll be assessed through various modules, including:
- group presentations and role-play practicals
- written exams and essays
- fieldwork reports
- digital projects and project design
- mapping packages
- field, laboratory, and practical tests
Your dissertation is a personal research project which has a 20,000 word limit and takes about 600 hours to complete. You must take the dissertation module to complete this course unless otherwise agreed with the course coordinator.
Your contact hours will vary depending on your module choices. Full information about contact hours is provided in individual module profiles.
90% of our archaeology master’s graduates are in employment or further study 6 months after graduation (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey).
Your research project could set you on the road to an academic or research career - and could end up being published in an academic journal. Many of our graduates go on to complete PhD studies.
You’ll gain a lots of practical, vocational experience on the course. Most students go on to work in archaeology, the heritage industry and science. Job roles have included:
- maritime archaeologist
- project officer
- trainee geophysicist
- community outreach
- coastal process scientist
- civil servant
- forensic scientist
Our graduates have gone on to work for:
- Wessex Archaeology
- Ministry of Defence
- Department of Health and Social Care
- Historic Scotland
- Heritage Lottery Fund
- Geophysical Surveys of Bradford
- Channel Coastal Observatory
- Portsmouth City Council
- Maritime Archaeology Trust
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency
- A number of museums
Your experience here will set you up with many transferable skills that will be valuable whatever career path you choose. You’ll gain experience of team working, presentation skills, networking and data analysis.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £18,850.
What your fees pay for
Your fees also cover:
- the majority of the cost of fieldwork trips
- up to £350 transport costs for placements
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
International Postgraduate Taught Merit Scholarship
You are eligible for this scholarship if you:
are an international student who hasn’t taken a master's with us before
are enrolling to start a master's in September 2020
gained a 1st class honours degree at undergraduate level
If you meet these criteria you’ll be awarded an automatic £3,000 scholarship. This will mean a £3,000 reduction in your tuition fees. We’ll confirm your scholarship in your offer letter.
Unfortunately this offer isn’t open to UK / EU students.
Other postgraduate funding options
A variety of additional scholarships, grants and bursaries may be available to help you fund your master’s study, both from the University and from other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Applications must be received no later than 4 weeks before the start of the course. You must supply all supporting documentation at least 2 weeks before starting your course.
We recommend you apply at least 6 weeks before the start of the course to ensure you're able to meet our requirements and apply for a visa in time.
We cannot guarantee students who do not meet these deadlines will be able to begin their course.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for any postgraduate taught course that starts in or after September 2021.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you're applying for a Master of Research (MRes) degree, you will not need to pay the fee. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
You may also be asked to provide:
- a degree transcript
- evidence of professional qualifications
Learn more about how to apply with our postgraduate application guide.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We'll get back to you within 6 weeks with a decision about your application.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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