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Research Degrees

Within our top-rated, internationally acclaimed department, some of the very best postgraduate research students in Archaeology are able to develop themselves and their careers. 

Our research, teaching and reputation are world-class: we are regularly ranked one of the top two Archaeology departments in the UK (e.g. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, The Guardian University Guide 2018, Complete University Guide 2018) and one of the top four globally (World University QS rankings 2020) and have an impressive spectrum of research expertise, especially in British, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian archaeology, and in the science based and theoretical areas of the discipline. 

We can offer you research supervision leading to MA, MSc, MPhil, and PhD qualifications in a broad range of subjects, through both full and part-time study. You will work closely with our academic staff - experts in their fields with access to extensive research facilities. Skills-based training is provided to assist you in developing your research projects. All postgraduates are encouraged to share their work with the departmental and wider community, by means of departmental seminars, afternoon workshops, postgraduate-led one day conferences, and by means of publication. 

 A person loading samples into a drying oven in the Archaeological Science Lab

Research Degrees 

MA by Research: Following one year of full-time or two years of part-time (plus up to six months writing up time) research and writing, you will produce a thesis of up to 50,000 words. The research topic for this qualification is usually based on a specific object, site, or phenomenon. If your topic is suitable and you demonstrate an aptitude for research, the MA or MSc by Research can lead to postgraduate research at a higher level (MPhil. or PhD). 

MPhil: Following two years of full-time or four years of part-time research and writing, you will produce a thesis of up to 60,000 words. The research topic for such a thesis is usually based on an area or period of study, or the study of a specific class or group of objects, and this qualification can be upgraded to a PhD if your topic is suitable and you demonstrate an aptitude for original research. 

PhD: Following three years of full-time or six years of part-time research and writing, you will produce a thesis of up to 100,000 words. The subject of your thesis will be a substantial piece of original research where you demonstrate your ability to undertake independent research. 

This programme is particularly suitable for students who wish to pursue a career in a University setting, in research and/or teaching.  



A range of general and specialist research training will be provided for you through individual and group tuition based in the department and more general research preparation courses organised centrally. Your individual training needs will be assessed at the start of your course, and this process is repeated annually. 

Departmental Training includes: 

  • Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology/Archaeological Science; 
  • Access to Level 3 and Level 4 (taught postgraduate) modules, where required; 
  • Training in teaching methods with feedback, normally from 2nd year onwards; 
  • Specialist training provided by supervisors specific to individual research needs; 
  • Contributions to the general Research Seminar Programme and seminars specific to Research Centres linked to the department. 

University Training includes: 

  • Faculty Induction Course at the start of your first year; 
  • Training Needs Analysis to identify your specific training needs; 
  • Courses/workshops on research (e.g. 'Managing your research project', Managing the student-supervisor relationship', 'Your intellectual property rights'); 
  • Access to UKGRAD HEFCE funded training events 
  • Access to University information technology and research methods courses. 



How to apply

The process can be summarised in 5 steps:

1. Check you meet our entry requirements.

2. Make contact with the department and a potential supervisor. It is essential prior to applications that the supervisor has agreed to supervise your project, and normally you will have sent in drafts of your research proposal for feedback prior to applying. This is especially important if you are applying for AHRC or other funding.

3. Write a research proposal following our guidance.

4. Check on available start dates and deadlines, especially where you are applying for funding.

5. Apply using the applicant portal.


Find out more about ourresearch projects, or contact us for more information on applying. If you are applying for a PhD, please read our guidance on writing a research proposal. We hope you will choose to join us for a research degree in archaeology.


There are a number of sources of funding for research postgraduate (and particularly PhD) study. You can find out more on the University's funding and scholarships pages. The table below summarises the main sources of funded scholarships for students studying Archaeology.


Funding Body Deadline
China Scholarships Council 15 January 2023
Northern Bridge DTC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) 10 January 2023
IAPETUS DTC (Natural Environment Research Council) Varies by project - see website for details
Commonwealth Scholarships November 2023 (for 2024-25 entry)