This unique one year taught postgraduate programme combines cutting-edge biomolecular research with archaeological and evolutionary approaches, taught across the fields of archaeology, biological and medical science.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
Location of Study
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This programme combines the study of ancient biomolecules in archaeology with advanced genetic, biomedical and evolutionary research to offer important insights and perspectives on key topics fundamental to human society, such as our evolutionary origins, our rich biological and cultural diversity, ancient health and disease, life history patterns, and past responses to environmental and climate change. It also offers insights to similar questions but for other, non-human organisms such as wild and domestic plants and animals.

Biomolecular Archaeology therefore provides a set of analytical tools important not only for archaeologists, but also for biologists, ecologists, environmental scientists, and biomedical professionals, all of whom benefit greatly from gaining direct insights to past biological diversity.

The principal aim of the MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology is to equip students from a range of different backgrounds with the theoretical and practical skills required for analysing the most commonly preserved ancient biomolecules, with specific emphasis on palaeogenetics, genome sequencing and bioinformatics.

With a practical and applied focus, the programme combines cutting-edge biomolecular research with archaeological and evolutionary approaches and methods. Students will benefit from a choice of courses offered across the fields of archaeology, biological and medical sciences, and study key cross-disciplinary topics such as human evolution, plant and animal domestication, human diets and migrations, ancient pathogens, and human adaptations to past environments.

Students will have the opportunity to learn how biomolecules degrade and preserve in archaeological materials, and how they are extracted and analysed, the strategies and tools used in analysing DNA sequence data, and to develop their own, original biomolecular archaeology research project with specialists in our dedicated laboratories.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

  • Ancient Biomolecules (30 credit points)
  • MB5025 Molecular Genetics (15 credit points)
  • MB5021 Bioinformatics (15 credit points)

Semester 2

  • Palaeogenetics (30 credit points)
  • MB5522 Advanced Bioinformatics and Genome Sequencing (15 credit points)
  • MB5523 Human Genetics (15 credit points)

Semester 3

  • Research Dissertation (60 credit points)
Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses
Ancient Biomolecules (AY5011)

30 Credit Points

This course provides a broad introduction to the field of Biomolecular Archaeology and the study of ancient biomolecules. In a series of lectures, seminars and practicals, you will learn key theoretical concepts, principles, and laboratory methods underpinning state-of-the-art research on ancient biomolecules, such as DNA, proteins and lipids

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Molecular Genetics (MB5025)

15 Credit Points

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Bioinformatics (MB5021)

15 Credit Points

A course containing a series of lectures describing 'latest-methods and discoveries' in areas of bioinformatics and functional genomics including transcriptomics, proteomics, and DNA sequence analysis.Contains a series of in-depth workshops that teach the principles and practice of next generation sequence analysis, transcriptomics, proteomics and sequence similarity analysis.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses
Palaeogenetics (AY5507)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with an in-depth overview of the study of ancient DNA. Through extensive training in theoretical concepts and principles, laboratory methods, and bioinformatics, you will attain specialist skills in the analysis of DNA extracted from archaeological remains.

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Advanced Bioinformatics and Genome Sequencing (MB5522)

15 Credit Points

An exciting course that brings a student right up to date with bioinformatics, genome assembly and annotation technology. You, the student, will isolate a novel bacterium from the environment and purify its DNA. This will be whole genome sequenced, and you will then assemble your own bacterial genome and functionally annotate it, taught by expert bioinformaticians from our Centre for Genome-Enabled Biology and Medicine. Your analysis will enable you to identify the species you have isolated, its metabolic and environmental responses, growth constraints and regulation, cell surface markers and antibiotic resistance, producing a full inventory of genes and their presumptive functions. Overall the course prepares a student for future employment in a biosciences workplace where genome sequencing and annotation is becoming an everyday tool of modern biotechnology.

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Human Genetics (MB5523)

15 Credit Points

Human genetics has undergone a revolution over the last decade, driven by technological innovations that have given us an unprecedented insight into the genetic diversity of our species. This course will explore how this information is used to determine the role of genetic variation in human health and disease.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
Dissertation in Archaeological Science (AY5906)

60 Credit Points

This course enables students on the MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology or MSc in Bioarchaeological Science programmes to develop their own research project in archaeological science. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in conducting extensive literature review and synthesis, formulating a clear and concise research question, and design and execute practice-oriented research.

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We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Seminars

Why Study Biomolecular Archaeology?

  • Recent advances and breakthroughs in genetics and other biological sciences have catapulted Biomolecular Archaeology to the forefront of modern science.
  • Cross-disciplinary by definition, the MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology uniquely draws on theory and practice from other disciplines such as molecular biology, evolutionary genetics, bioinformatics, and chemistry.
  • The learning methods include traditional and interactive lectures covering the theoretical underpinnings of key concepts, principles and practices in Biomolecular Archaeology along with seminars and student-led discussions and workshops in which problem-based learning is central, and which aims at reinforcing learning of content covered previously in lectures and seminars.
  • Practicals also allow students to gain hands-on experience with key laboratory methods (both wet-lab and computational/bioinformatics).
  • Students are trained in the preparation and written presentation of laboratory reports handling biomolecular (archaeological) data.
  • Working knowledge (also a practical skill) in managing ethical concerns in archaeology and genetics is also included.
  • The Dissertation in Archaeological Science (60 credit points) in semester 3 involves an extensive literature review, and research design and execution is central and provides students with an opportunity for attaining broader and more detailed knowledge of cutting-edge specialisms in Biomolecular Archaeology.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

  • 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 archaeology (or a related discipline such as anthropology, earth sciences, or history), biological or medical sciences.


  • 2:2 in archaeology or a related discipline as above, with relevant professional experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / RUK £8,200
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
EU / International students £18,400
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Aberdeen Global Scholarship (EU)

The Aberdeen Global Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is a £2,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Postgraduate Masters students who are classed as International fee status and are domiciled in the EU, plus another £3,000 discount for eligible Postgraduate Masters students who would have previously been eligible for Home fees (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Aberdeen Global Scholarship


Biomolecular archaeology is a rapidly developing field of study. Graduates of this programme will be well placed to pursue careers working as professional archaeologists, either for archaeology companies or for universities, museums, local authorities or other heritage sector organisations. The knowledge and skills taught on this programme are highly transferable and have multiple applications beyond archaeology, for example in molecular biology.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX