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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Drawing on the wealth of expertise and experience within the department, the MA in Archaeology offers you the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge you will need to build a fascinating and challenging career in commercial archaeology, heritage management, research, or the wider employment market.

The course is available as a full-time option over one year or part-time over two years and features specialist modules, taught classes and workshops alongside dissertation research. The course is organised around 6 diverse strands to allow you to specialise in your chosen area of archaeology. These are Landscape Archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, the Archaeology of Egypt, the Near East and Asia, the Archaeology and Heritage of East Asia, Classical and Roman Archaeology, and Medieval and Post Medieval Archaeology (click here for more information).

Each route will give you the opportunity to advance your skills and expertise dependent upon your interests and career aims, with a view to progressing either to doctoral-level research or to developing your career in archaeology and a range of other fields. You will also have the opportunity to engage with the broader student community within the department by participating in shared research, presentation and practical skills learning, and through discussions and our full calendar of events.

An exceptionally wide scope of methodological and research expertise exists within Durham’s Department of Archaeology, and you can draw on this expert knowledge to advance your own area of archaeological interest. Subjects offered include the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages of Europe to the Classical archaeology of the Greek and Roman worlds, through Egyptology, the archaeology of the ancient and Islamic Near East and Arabia to Buddhism in South Asia and trade in the Indian Ocean, as well as the archaeology of the medieval, post-medieval and historic periods.

During the course, you will also develop your abilities and experience in areas such as the collection, management and analysis of archaeological data and materials, current archaeological approaches, methods and practice and the presentation of archaeological research.

Our MA in Archaeology will undoubtedly equip you for a wide range of careers in archaeology, academia, cultural heritage management, research, and journalism, as well as many other careers that have a cultural, social, or heritage focus.

Course Structure

Core modules:

Research and Study Skills in Social Archaeology provides you with an understanding of the latest tools, skills and methods for learning, research and presentation in archaeology. You will be shown how to think critically about source material, ethics in research, how to process and visualise data, how to use resources such as libraries, databases, online sources as well as other sources including archives, grey literature and maps. You will be introduced to compiling and using databases, and the use of visual presentations, tools and conventions. Your dissertation will challenge you to practise, develop and demonstrate your research skills involving published literature and the compiling of new data on a specific research topic. 

The Dissertation provides the experience of sustained, rigorous, independent research under the close guidance of a specialist academic supervisor that is a necessary foundation both for further post-graduate academic work and for professional report writing. Under the guidance of your assigned dissertation supervisor, you will familiarise yourself with published literature on your chosen topic, develop a research design, collect data and draw your own conclusions..

The remainder of the course will be made up of modules where you will choose from multiple exciting options, including:

Practical Research and Study Skills: This module runs in term 2, where you will select two topics from a range of options in ‘Master Classes’ led by professionals and academic experts, typically taught through workshops. Recent options have included: GIS, geophysics, ceramics analysis, materials analysis, glass analysis, numismatics, museum artefact cataloguing, and 3D imaging.

These classes provide the opportunity to develop professional skills which are assessed through ‘real-life’ assignments, such as professional-quality reports.

It is possible to substitute PRSS with a 20-credit language module from the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Research Topics in Archaeology (choose either a single of double module): Research Topics are detailed courses examining particular periods, areas or themes, and are taught by the Department’s leading experts focussing on their specialist research areas. Teaching is typically delivered through a series of two-hour lectures and one-hour seminars/tutorials, usually over one term. Students choose from  two research topics with at least one related to their MA strand (eg ‘Prehistoric’, ‘Classical and Roman’ etc.). You can choose from an extensive list of more than 20 research topics across a variety of themes offered in term 1 and 2 (click here for a list of recent topics).

In consultation with the MA Archaeology Programme Director, it is possible to substitute one or both of the Research Topic modules for a guided study, where you undertake independent research under the supervision of one of our members of staff, or one of the MA modules from other courses run by the Archaeology Department, or even by another department.


The MA in Archaeology offers a highly effective and stimulating mix of taught lectures, seminars, workshops and practical classes.

In the first two terms, you will attend around four hours of lectures, workshops or practical classes, and two one-hour seminars each week. Practical work will complement the desk-based analytical skills activity.

Over the second and third terms, we aim to develop your abilities as an independent researcher with the lectures and workshops introducing you to archaeological research methods in specific fields of study and allowing you to practise them. Typically lectures provide key information on a particular area and identify the main areas for discussion and debate among archaeologists on a particular theme. Seminars then provide opportunities for smaller groups to discuss and debate particular issues or areas, based on the knowledge gained through lectures and through reading. Practical classes and workshops allow you to gain direct experience of practical and interpretative skills in archaeology.


You will be expected to submit three or four pieces of assessed work per term, consisting of essays of 2,000 or 4,000 words as well as practical projects such as poster presentations.

Importantly, you will also be required to produce a 20,000-word dissertation completed after you have carried out independent study activity into a particular theme, area or research problem.

This dissertation is regarded as the key feature of the MA and will be produced under the supervision of a specialist member of the academic team.

Entry requirements

Typically applicants will have: ideally a degree in archaeology or a related subject entailing experience in historical, material culture and/or visual culture (e.g. Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Art History and Theory, History, Classics, Oriental Studies), although a wider range of backgrounds is acceptable, with 2.1 honours or higher for UK degrees, or international equivalent (please consult the department on international equivalents).

For mature students, relevant employment experience or other qualifications are taken into consideration (again, you are welcome to consult with the department on this). Prior knowledge of specialist areas is not mandatory, but an ability to prove previous interest or experience would be an advantage.

IELTS 7.0 or above with no component below 6.5; TOEFL IBT (Internet Based Test) 102 or above (with no component below 25).

Application Deadlines:

There is no specific deadline for applications, although applications for any given academic year must be received before the start of that academic year.

Tuition fee deposit:

All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa. £500 deposit is also payable by UK applicants if an offer of a place from the Department of Archaeology is accepted.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,900 per year
EU students £26,900 per year
Island students £11,900 per year
International students £26,900 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,600 per year
EU students £14,600 per year
Island students £6,600 per year
International students £14,600 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Many of our postgraduates move into an academic career, either teaching or by taking up post-doctoral research positions in universities. Others join museums or national and regional heritage organisations. Some work in professional archaeology, in national or local planning departments, while others elect to use their analytical and presentation skills to gain positions in industry, commerce and government.

Department information


The Department of Archaeology is home to one of the largest postgraduate communities in Europe who benefit from world class academic teaching and leading-edge facilities to be able to pursue their passion for studying the past, interpreting the present and understanding the future.

The wide-ranging courses are research-led and delivered by staff who are recognised experts in specialisms that span world, European and British archaeology from the last ice age to the post-medieval period.

Our taught courses provide the ideal grounding for further academic research at a higher level but also offer essential preparation for entering a professional career.

They include MA Museum and Artefact Studies, MA International Cultural Heritage Management, and MA Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects, all of which have strong vocational themes. The MSc Bioarchaeology and MA Archaeology offer ideal preparation for research careers and specialisation and our unique MSc Human Bioarchaeology and Palaeopathology and MSc Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology are ideal for postgraduates nurturing both academic and professional aspirations.

We welcome applications from researchers seeking MRes and PhD qualifications tailored to specific interests, and we offer strong developmental support.

With our expertise in a wide range of archaeological disciplines and significant research activity across the globe, our aim is to create a top-class learning environment that is vibrant and supportive and enables you to make a difference in your chosen field.

For more information see our department pages.


  • 10th in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Archaeology 2023
  • 1st in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see our Archaeology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 97% of our research outputs graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)
  •  2nd in the UK top ten for the overall quality of research (REF 2021)


The Department of Archaeology has a reputation for excellence and connections across the world.

We are home to state-of-the-art laboratories, specialist technology and some of the best library resources in the UK. We have project rooms with interactive technology, teaching laboratories, a computer suite, a photographic studio and scientific research laboratories in DNA, conservation, isotopes, environmental archaeology, luminescence dating, palaeopathology and bone chemistry, many of which are used as learning resources for out postgraduate community.

Taught courses and researchers alike benefit from our status as co-owners of a UNESCO World Heritage site and the extensive range of library, museum and artefact collection resources on offer at Durham.

The Department of Archaeology can be found in the Dawson Building, which is ideally situated at the heart of the Durham city campus, next to the Bill Bryson Library and the Palatine Centre.

More information on our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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