Archaeology allows you to study at MSc to PhD level. The advantage of studying at the University of Aberdeen is that we are surrounded by major archaeological sites on the mainland (and Orkney) from ancient civilisations.

Aberdeen's Department of Archaeology is unique in the United Kingdom in that it focuses explicitly on the lifeways and worldviews of northern cultures, encompassing a region that takes in the North Atlantic, Northern Eurasia, high-latitude North America and the North Pacific.

Popular perception holds that if the 'cradle of civilization' was nurtured in warm southern climes, then the north was little more than a frozen wasteland. Such caricatures, of course, are hard to support when we consider the almost infinite and varied evidence of the human condition in the northern world. While often living in environments which could be less than favourable and even hostile, northern peoples were anything but more primitive versions of those farther south.

Through complex histories of colonization, local innovation, and cultural contact, the northern world developed an astonishing range of prehistoric and historic social and cultural forms; from ancient Siberian populations to the Picts of the Scottish highlands and from the hunter-fisher-gatherers of the North Pacific to the Vikings of Scandinavia.

At a time when the contemporary world is beginning to cast its eyes northward in search of ever diminishing natural resources, Aberdeen is at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of our understanding of northern cultural diversity both in the past and present.

The Graduate School offers an induction programme and skills training opportunities for all research students to support their studies and career planning.

MSc by Research

Students undertake a research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor and, unlike a postgraduate taught degree by coursework and dissertation, there are no formal lectures or seminars and work is not formally examined until after the final thesis is submitted. The thesis is required to display evidence of originality or present a satisfactory, orderly and critical exposition of existing knowledge within the field.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Degree Qualification
MSc or PhD

Our Research

Archaeological research in Aberdeen is organized along four interlocking themes:

  • Human interactions with northern environments - how did individuals and communities adapt to, understand and transform the landscapes they moved and acted in?
  • Material culture, technology and vernacular architecture - how and why did new kinds of objects, technologies and built structures emerge from, and spread into, the societies of the northern world?
  • The northern mind - how do past and present societies in the north perceive and understand the world, how do they define themselves in it, and how do they express their beliefs and identities?
  • Interactions between northern populations - how far did diasporas, colonisations and inter-community contacts define the long-term culture history of the northern world?

Fees and Funding

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Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


An Archaeology degree can also be the gateway to many other professions, and the training in analytical and communication skills acquired by our graduates make them employable in a wide variety of fields including industry, commerce and research.

The broad-based nature of the discipline enables graduates to compete strongly in the employment market place. Today archaeologists in the UK work in an increasingly wide range of professions. A significant percentage of graduates are employed in private or university-based archaeological units and consultancies. These professionals are responsible for mitigating the impact to archaeological sites in relation to different forms of development. Typically, such posts involve a good deal of fieldwork and the production of high quality scientific reports.

Others graduates go on to win research, teaching and curatorial posts in universities, museums and private institutions and work in a range of areas from interpreting ancient environments to communicating archaeology to the public. In addition to more traditional occupations, a growing number of archaeologists are now employed by a range of governmental and non-governmental heritage organizations.

Careers in this area are primarily involved in making decisions about the management and conservation of archaeological resources at local, national and international levels. Archaeologists and individuals with archaeological training also work in a growing number of non-traditional careers where archaeological knowledge is central. These positions range widely, from jobs with engineering firms, where knowledge of archaeological principals can be crucial to project planning, to careers which engage the public's appreciation of the past.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Postgraduate Research School
University of Aberdeen
Crombie Hall
AB24 3TS