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MA in Archaeology

Robin Coningham and students

UNESCO Professor Robin Coningham with students on fieldwork.

Students excavating and recording archaeological features

Students excavating and recording on placement at Auckland Castle

Archaeology trip to Beijing

Field trip to the Forbidden City, Beijing

Students undertaking fieldwork in front of Lindisfarne Castle

Students undertaking an excavation in front of Lindisfarne Castle

Two archaeologists taking measurements in a cave

Professor Paul Pettitt examining Palaeolithic cave art

Dr Kristen Hopper working in the Infomatics Laboratory

Dr Kristen Hopper working in the informatics laboratory

Our MA in Archaeology is designed to prepare you for a wide range of careers in the fields of archaeology, cultural heritage management, the academic world, cultural research and journalism, as well as related careers with a cultural or heritage focus.

The MA is designed to take advantage of the exceptionally wide research interests of the staff in Durham Archaeology, which range from Neanderthal art and the Palaeolithic of western Europe, through Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe, to the Classical archaeology of the Greek and Roman worlds, through Egyptology, the landscape archaeology of the ancient and Islamic Near East and Arabia, to Buddhism in South Asia and trade along the Silk Road and across the Indian Ocean, prehistoric and historic East Asia, and of course the archaeology of medieval and post-medieval Europe - where Durham has long held a special place.

In order to cover this wide range of interests the MA Archaeology is organised around six academic ‘strands’. These allow students to select courses in the areas that interest them, whilst allowing some flexibility to mix and match and at the same time creating a community of fellow MA and MSc students where courses in research, presentation and practical skills are shared along with discussions and events. This structure offers the opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange combined with specialist training in key archaeological skills and knowledge.

The six strands are:

 A banner image with an drone photograph of a dig and an object

Explore a range of topics

The teaching is divided into core research and practical skills on the one hand, and specialist area/period-specific knowledge on the other.

All students undertake our Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology module, and Practical Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology, as well as a dissertation. The dissertation is a key part of the course, and is a piece of independent, original research conducted under the supervision of a member of staff specialised in your selected research area. 

Optional modules on offer include our wide-ranging Research Topics, which includes options such as Prehistoric Archaeology, Classical Archaeology, Egypt, the Near East, and Asia, Medieval Archaeology, and Environmental / Scientific Archaeology.

Funding Opportunities

Roman archaeology: The Hodgson Binns bursaries (£2,000) provides support towards the cost of fees for taught postgraduate students studying for an MA in Archaeology, with a focus on Roman archaeology. The bursaries are primarily to support students researching on Hadrian’s Wall and the North of England during the Roman period, but it may also be used for research on Roman Italy, Latin Epigraphy, Roman pottery and the study of Roman burial.

To apply for these bursaries please email a one A4 page (maximum) statement on how your research interests and chosen Masters course relates to the themes of the bursary to by 30th April 2023. Please title the email ‘Hodgson Binns bursary application’ and attach the statement as a PDF file to be considered for one of these bursaries. An awards announcement will be made in May 2023.

Find out more about this course and apply →

University student
Studying for an MA in archaeology at Durham really allowed me to develop my career in field archaeology. It taught me to work with a wide variety of evidence, including standing buildings, cartography, and historical documents as well as excavated material. The specialism in medieval archaeology that I developed during the MA has provided invaluable background to the excavations that I have been lucky enough to run at important places such Durham Cathedral and more recently at Auckland Castle.

Jamie Armstrong
MA Archaeology graduate