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Courses / Postgraduate / Higher Archaeological Practice (MSc)

Higher Archaeological Practice (MSc)

Master of Science
1 year
Course Type
Next course starts
September 2022

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.

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.

Course lead

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

Related pathways

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.

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.

Changes due to COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2021 to 2022. We're working hard to plan for a number of possible scenarios. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.

Find out more on our COVID advice page.

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