Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Archaeology of the North

Key Facts

Study Modes
Full-time (12 months)
Part-time (27 months)
Entry Dates
Learning Mode
Not Specified


The taught MSc in Archaeology of the North is the only degree of its kind in the world, reflecting the unique research focus of the Department of Archaeology at Aberdeen. This degree can be studied on a part time basis and there are two intakes each year: September and January.

Students are equipped with research skills to investigate the material culture and heritage of the far northern hemisphere, a region that includes Scotland, the North Atlantic, Scandinavia and Baltic Europe, northern Russia and the circumpolar region through Siberia, the North Pacific and high-latitude North America. With an emphasis on colonisation and culture contact, lifeways and world-views, every graduate is provided with a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice specific to northern archaeology, together with the foundation for further study or professional employment. In addition every graduate will have acquired detailed competence in a specialist regional or chronological field, chosen from a range of options across the entire northern world.

The degree can be taken as preparation for higher research, as a professional qualification or purely for interest. 

Contact Information

For further information about the programme or to discuss your application, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Unit.

We also have a facebook group which you are welcome to join to discuss the programme.


The programme is offered full-time over one year (September to September) and part time over two years. The schedule of work for part-time students is agreed in consultation with the programme director. The MSc requires the successful completion of 180 credits, including four 30-credit core modules, and a 60-credit dissertation.

The 30-credit core modules include:

Northern Worlds

In a series of research-led lectures and seminars, students investigate what characterises the Archaeology of the North from environmental, socio-cultural, and ideological aspects. We examine several inter-locking themes, from the first colonisations of the North tracing how these earlier populations established the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity that define later periods. Students will be introduced to the ecological characteristics of higher latitudes, and examine the diverse ways in which communities have made the Northern World their home. We also examine how human communities have responded to climate changes in the past, resilience and adaptation, technology, and spirituality amongst Northern peoples

Northern Cultures and Peoples

In a series of text based student-led seminars we study past Northern Peoples and Cultures through key topical debates, characteristic for different cultural regions and time periods. In the seminars students examine a range of northern contexts, from prehistory to more recent times all over the Circumpolar North.  Students encounter topics as versatile as animal domestication in Northern Eurasia, Scandinavian Vikings, and Colonial North America illustrating the diversity of life and thought in Northern communities. Each seminar will also explore how particular key issues have become central to the ‘identity’ of archaeological research in the respective areas.

Theories and Methods in Research*

In this course students will follow the development of archaeological thought from its roots in the scientific revolution of the 17th century through to the post-modern thinkers and finally discovering where the current theoretical debates stand. Students will explore the links between the theoretical development of archaeological research and the general developments in the history of science and philosophy. Students also explore different methodologies central to archaeological research, discuss what constitute archaeological data, and how to design a research project. Students will also discuss research ethics, and scientific agendas. These issues are explored through a series of lectures and seminars.

Advanced Archaeological Approaches in Northern Research*

As an advanced engagement with current trends and approaches in Northern Archaeology students examine current cutting edge debates associated with new theories and methodologies in archaeological research.  Students will encounter the versatility of methodological and theoretical approaches in Northern research through four different themes central to the Archaeology of the North; Body and Death, Heritage and Memory, Social Space and Structures, Human and Environment.  Each theme is explored through series of research led seminars and a practical, approaching the theme from different theoretical/methodological angels. The main assessment of the course is an Internal Masters Conference on these four themes.

*Subject to agreement, the course can be replaced with one from a sister discipline, such as Anthropology of the North.

The 60-credit dissertation is prepared on a research subject to be agreed with the student's advisor.

Learning Methods

Field Trip, Field Work, Group Projects, Individual Projects, Lectures, Research


Assessment for each 30-credit taught module is on the basis of one 3000-word essay and one project on topics relevant to the course, chosen in consultation with the course coordinator. The nature of the project may vary from course to course and include reports, exercises and presentations.

Following successful completion of the taught modules, students are allowed to advance to the dissertation (60-credits), which involves in depth original research on a topic chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. Dissertations will normally be 12,000 words in length.

Students who complete the taught modules, but who do not wish to write a dissertation, may thereafter be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip).


Classes are taught through lectures, small group tutorials and seminars. A main focus of the MSc is development of individual research skills through dissertation work.


Ameen "The chance to study and live in a different country and all of the new experiences associated with that made the move to Aberdeen very exciting." [More] 

Academic Requirements

Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a 2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree (or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth) in any branch of Archaeology or related discipline such as Anthropology, Celtic Studies, History or History-related degree.

It is important to note that the programmes of postgraduate study at the University of Aberdeen are very competitive and the entry requirements stated are a guide to the minimum requirements, but do not guarantee entry. 

Document requirements

For this application we need at least:

  • a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) so far (original & official English translation)
  • detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • current CV/resume
  • academic reference letter OR employer if you have 2+ years of relevant experience

It is important when submitting an application that you ensure you have completed all the necessary sections and enclosed all the relevant documentation to ensure that your application can be processed as quickly as possible. 


Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements. These are located at This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency. If you are in doubt about your proficiency in English, contact the British Council office or its equivalent in your country. If your first language is not English, it is important that your proficiency in English is good in order for you to study successfully at the University of Aberdeen . Without this ability you will find great difficulty in understanding lectures, producing written work and sitting examinations. 


We have two intakes of students each year - September & January. Late applications may be asked to wait until the next intake should the programme coordinator feel there is insufficient time to consider the application. Prospective students who require a visa to study in the UK are advised to apply as early in the year as possible to secure a place. Applications received after 30th June (September intake) or 16th November (January intake) from students who need to apply for a visa to study in the UK will not be processed for entry but will be considered for entry into the following intake as appropriate.


2016/17 Fees

UK/EU Students - £5,600

International - £15,400

Information on tuition fees, can be found on the University Registry website.



Funding opportunities can be found in our searchable Funding Database. You are advised to search the database as a broad range of funding exists much of which you may be eligible for.

A list of funding opportunties is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.

University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated (or about to graduate) with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information

Development Trust International Taught Postgraduate Scholarship 2016/17

It is open to students from Canada, paying International fees commencing a full-time MSc in Archaeology of the North in the College of Physical Sciences in September 2016. More information. 


Related Information

General Information

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