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Archaeology (MA)

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Why study this course

Enhance your understanding of Archaeology by region and period, through a combination of taught modules and individual research in this flexible programme.

Enhance your understanding of Archaeology by region and period, through a combination of taught modules and individual research in this flexible programme.

Renowned for our particular expertise in the British Isles, Europe and the Mediterranean area, our experts teach from the Neolithic through to the Celtic, Roman and Viking periods.

You will be able to critically assess the work of others and of your own, to engage effectively in debate at an advanced level, to plan, design and carry out a coherent research strategy, and to produce detailed and coherent reports and presentations. The wide-range of transferable skills acquired are a particular strength for the pursuit of careers outside of archaeology and the heritage sector.

In addition to our general MA Archaeology programme we offer three pathways to shape your studies. You can choose the pathway that best suits you. The pathway you choose will determine the modules you go on to study.

The three pathways are as follows:

European Neolithic

The Neolithic encompasses some of the most important transformations in prehistory: people settling down, adopting and developing agriculture and animal husbandry, taking on new forms of material culture, extending networks of exchange, establishing long-lived sites and building monuments. These new practices were not just the result of new technologies or subsistence economies; they were deep rearrangements of the ways in which people lived their lives and how they structured their communities. The Neolithic therefore sets a series of unanswered questions about origins and identity, what people believed about the world, their past and themselves, the nature of their relations with others, and the rate and kind of change over several millennia.

Prehistoric Britain

The Prehistoric Britain pathway is designed to introduce students to the prehistory of Britain through a detailed examination of the archaeological record from Shetland to Cornwall and Kent. Cardiff University has long been a centre for research into British Prehistory. In the past staff and students from Cardiff University were involved in the iconic excavation at Stonehenge and Silbury Hill. Current staff have been involved in excavations throughout the country including at Avebury, Maiden Castle, Cladh Hallan and Skara Brae and at Ham Hill in Somerset, the largest hillfort in Britain. Research themes in the recent past have included the chronology of early agricultural communities, the nature of monumentality in the first millennium BC, the domestic wild dichotomy and animal life ways and the spatial organisation of settlements.

Early Medieval Society and Culture

In Britain and Ireland, the period AD 400-1100 witnessed some of the deepest and most lasting changes in society and culture in post-Roman Europe. Through the study of settlement forms and patterns, mortuary remains, artefacts, art, literature and place-names, the MA Archaeology Early Medieval Society and Culture sets the foundations of modern society, cultures and identities in Britain and Ireland within their proper European contexts. The rich archaeological sources are ideally suited for many developing analytical techniques, as well as for multidisciplinary approaches.

Distinctive features

  • Training in research methods and skills including writing and public speaking, interpreting and presenting data, and designing research projects
  • Wide choice of topic, region, period and method-based optional modules
  • Advanced research seminars tailored to specific student interests
  • You may have the opportunity to build on your existing skill-set through participation in projects and excavations.

Where you'll study

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Curious about the human experience across millennia and cultures, we are seeking to better understand our past, to illuminate our present and improve our future.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4470
  • MarkerColum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

Admissions criteria

Applicants should normally possess a higher education degree with a first or good upper second class Honours (UK), or a qualification recognised by the University as equivalent to this. Applications should include a brief statement (500 words) on dissertation plans.

Applicants whose first language is not English will normally be expected to obtain a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall.

We welcome applications year-round but to commence your studies in any given year (starting September), you must submit your application by 1st August.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

Course structure

This is a full time course that takes one year to complete.

Taught Stage

You will take two core modules (40 credits) and four optional modules (80 credits). The options you take will depend on the pathway you choose.

Dissertation Stage

On successful completion of the taught course element you will go on to complete your dissertation (60 credits). This takes the form of an individual research project, resulting in a dissertation of around 20,000 words. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a mix of seminars, lectures, tutorials and practicals in the archaeology laboratories.

As part of the programme, you will deliver presentations to your fellow MA students within our supportive community.

How will I be assessed?

Taught stage assessment is via essays, presentation and coursework.

On successful completion of the taught elements of the programme you progress to a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a topic or theme of your choice (subject to the approval of your supervisor).

This self-regulated year of study is ideal preparation for progression to PhD.

How will I be supported?

You are assigned your own personal tutor.

We offer one-to-one time in set office hours during teaching weeks, and also welcome email contact. Additionally, you can make appointments to see your personal tutor or module leaders on a one-to-one basis about any issues. Our Professional Services team is also available for advice and support.

Discussion of assignments is offered and written feedback is provided on summative assessment. You are encouraged to discuss your ideas with module tutors both in seminars and one-to-one in office hours.

Your personal tutor is your contact point to discuss any problems arising from the course. Further queries should be addressed to the Course Director.

Feedback:

Feedback on coursework may be provided via written comments on work submitted, by provision of ‘model’ answers and/or through discussion in contact sessions.

What skills will I practise and develop?

  • Intellectual skills, including the ability to critically evaluate evidence and its interpretation and to be tolerant of differing interpretations; to sustain a logical argument and reach a conclusion that can be defended; to synthesise and analyse information; to compare and contrast theoretical explanations and to integrate different methodologies.
  • Communication skills, including the ability to communicate orally in an appropriate professional medium; to make presentations both as an individual and as part of a group; to write effectively at an advanced level.
  • Numeracy skills, including the ability to display and present numerical data in appropriate formats; and to analyse numerical data and solve basic mathematical and statistical problems.
  • Information technology skills, including the ability to produce and calculate values using a spreadsheet; to produce and query databases; to use e-mail, the Internet and the World Wide Web; to find, manage and utilise information and data.
  • Personal skills, including the ability to manage workloads; to adapt and apply skills to new contexts; to assess and formulate priorities, constraints and goals and to adapt to changing circumstances.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£7,650None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

EU students entering in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£17,350£1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Career prospects

Graduates of this and similar degree programmes have embarked on careers in a range of professions from academia, the heritage sector, journalism and law to media research (media, commercial, academic), teaching and publishing. A significant number choose to continue studies at PhD level.

Recent graduate destinations include CADW, Church in Wales, Council for British Archaeology, Glamorgan Archives, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Trust, Tate Gallery, Welsh Assembly Government and a range of universities in the UK and overseas.

Funding

Master's Excellence Scholarship

This award worth £3000 is open to UK and EU students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance to support your study at Cardiff University.

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