Introduction

Archaeology is the only discipline that studies the human past in its entirety; from the origins of our species to the events of yesterday. Archaeology at Aberdeen has a special northern focus that is unique in the UK. Through lectures, field and laboratory work you will engage with the archaeology of Scotland, Scandinavia, northern Europe, the North Atlantic and northern latitudes of Asia and North America. You will be taught by internationally acclaimed researchers.

This programme is studied on campus.

This MA degree focuses on the humanities and social science side of archaeology. Courses will cover subjects such as the origins of modern humans, colonisation of the north, history and theory of archaeology, Scottish archaeology and excavation and research skills.

In seeking to understand how ancient people lived their lives, structured their world, and engaged with their environment, archaeologists ask the big questions that can provide us with the tools to tackle modern day issues such the effects of climate change, designing the ‘perfect’ diet, or investigating the spread of epidemics.

You will develop the practical and research skills required to work as a professional archaeologist, taught and inspired by experts who are internationally recognised leaders in their fields, with many links and projects in areas of special interest overseas, such as Alaska.

The broad-based nature of your studies, opportunities, and flexibility at Aberdeen will also make you extremely attractive to employers in a wide variety of other fields including industry, commerce, and a range of other professions.

You will enjoy a special, warm welcome at the University of Aberdeen and benefit from excellent teaching, the international impact of our research, and a global experience as part of our friendly and vibrant international community. You will love our beautiful campus and great facilities for learning, sports and leisure, and take advantage of the many opportunities to develop extra skills and interests, and broaden your horizons through study abroad.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
F421

What You'll Study

In year 1, Archaeology will occupy one quarter of your curriculum, and in year 2 it will occupy one half. You can then choose to specialise in archaeology in years 3 and 4, undertaking a Single Honours degree or you can continue studying Archaeology and another subject in a Joint Honours degree.

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students and above, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year

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Archaeology in Action: an Introduction (AY1003) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides an introduction to how archaeological discoveries are made, the types of questions we can ask about past human societies using the evidence of their material remains, and the range of methods that archaeologists can draw on to try to answer the questions that excite them. By visiting archaeological sites, focussing on some of the world's most spectacular archaeological discoveries, and discussing some of the department's own original research projects, we will explore what the discipline of archaeology adds to our understanding of the human past and present, and what tools and techniques archaeologists employ in different environments.

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Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (AY1503) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides a romping introduction to the deep human past, from our earliest hominin origins in Africa to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Europe. Along the way we will discover the key stages in the evolution of our species and what it means to be 'human', from our use of symbols to express thoughts, ritualstic behaviours to our domestication of plants and animals and militarized empires. The archaeological evidence for these fundamental transitions in human societies provides us with powerful insights into some of the world's most fascinating civilizations,

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Prehistoric Britain: from Boxgrove to Bede (AY2009) - 15 Credit Points

Britain has been inhabited by humans for more than half a million years. This course provides an introduction to the peoples and societies that have occupied this Island from the first pioneer populations to the dawn of history.

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Test Tubes and Trowels: an Introduction to Archaeological Science (AY2006) - 15 Credit Points

Ever wondered how Archaeologists know what Neandertals ate, or what killed Ötzi the Iceman? Test Tubes & Trowels provides an accessible overview of the key scientific approaches used in modern archaeology to better understand archaeological sites and materials and to reconstruct past lives. Using a combination of lectures and practical workshops, the course will cover scientific methods of dating, artefact provenancing and ancient technologies, methods used for the study of diet, health, and movements of humans and animals in the past, and the identification of the environmental impacts of past human activities.

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Past Lives (AY2508) - 15 Credit Points

Archaeology is ultimately the study of human social lives. This course provides students with a detailed introduction to archaeological approaches to the study of human society. Through case studies and key texts we will investigate how archaeology can generate detailed insights into the richness and diversity of the diverse human communities and individuals of the past.

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The Archaeology of The North: Lifeways & Cultural Change (AY2505) - 15 Credit Points

This course is a detailed introduction to the ecological, economic and spiritual dimensions to the archaeology of the northern world. Lectures will draw on a series of case-studies to examine the human adaptations to northern landscapes, ritual and spirituality, and finally the impact of colonisation and contact upon northern cultures. Practicals in the course will include hands-on introduction to traditional skills such as flint knapping, tool manufacture and use of an atlatl.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Plus 60 credit points from courses of choice, of which at least 30 credits must be from level 3 Archaeology courses. You are required to choose 30 credits from Discipline Breadth or Sixth Century courses across levels 3 and 4.

Archaeological Fieldwork Portfolio (AY3011) - 15 Credit Points

During the summer after your second year of archaeology single honours students will go on a minimum of a two week long excavation. This course follows on from your field experience to help maximize the experiences and skills developed on these projects. Working with materials collected during the field project this course will develop key skills in communicating the results of field projects and the presentation of archaeological data.

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Professional Archaeology i: Field Methods (AY3010) - 15 Credit Points

We only have three days to find out! Excavation and field survey in modern archaeology can lead to spectacular discoveries regarding our past. This course, built around a short fieldschool and follow-up practicals and classes, will introduce and develop key skills in field archaeology, including excavation, field survey and sampling. Students will go through the whole process of designing, carrying out and reporting on a site and landscape in a course that will provide invaluable professional development.

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Archaeological Research Project Part i (AY3512) - 15 Credit Points

This course is the first stage in producing an archaeological dissertation, which is completed in Level 4. Lectures and practical training sessions introduce the theory and practice of archaeological research design. As the course progresses the student puts this into practice through the development of their own original research project, its presentation at a research seminar, and the submission of a full research proposal, which they subsequently take forward as their dissertation. A personal supervisor is identified and provides support, in addition to the other lecturers involved in delivering the lectures and skills training.

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Professional Archaeology II: Post - Excavation Analysis and Employment (AY3514) - 15 Credit Points

Lectures and laboratory practicals will provide experience in the techniques used to process and analyse archaeological artefacts and samples. We will introduce analytical basics for lithic, ceramic, faunal and historic artefact analysis as well as techniques for conserving, cataloguing and curating archaeological collections. This course also introduces practical skills required to obtain employment and placement in an archaeological workplace through practical exercises in writing CVs, job cover letters and job interview skills.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from Level 3 courses in Archaeology.
  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

Archaeological Research Project Part II (AY4002) - 30 Credit Points

Building directly on the skills learnt in AY3512, the student undertakes an original research project, under the guidance of their personal supervisor and course co-ordinator, and at the end of the course submits an archaeological dissertation. The session begins with a research seminar when students present how their research has progressed over the summer and what they will now be doing to complete it.

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Current Issues in Archaeology (AY4510) - 30 Credit Points

Archaeology is a contemporary discipline and the focus in archaeological questions, subject areas and theoretical debates constantly change with time. In this course we focus on some of the topics that are important for the ongoing research within our department, from domestication and climate change to community archaeology and relating to death. The different issues are discussed in text-based seminars, where the students themselves are responsible for presenting the topic and leading the seminars. The course aims to explore and challenge current trends in the archaeological discourse.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from Level 4 courses in Archaeology.
  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

Course Availability

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

All students attend lectures, seminars, tutorials and laboratory-based practicals, and make a number of excursions to ancient monuments and museums in Scotland. In the Honours years there is an emphasis on field and research skills, with a required fieldwork component. A dissertation provides students with the opportunity to tackle an original piece of research.

Assessment is by means of written exams and different types of continuous assessment, depending on the course. In the first year continuous assessment takes the form of essays, but in upper years it also includes critical reviews, posters, laboratory assignments, field notebooks and oral presentations.

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Archaeology?

  • Archaeology at Aberdeen has a northern focus unique in the UK, covering the heritage of Scotland, Scandinavia, northern Europe, the North Atlantic and the northern latitudes of Asia and North America.

  • Aberdeen is at the heart of a region that is among the richest in the UK in terms of sites of outstanding archaeological interest and is in close proximity to the World Heritage sites in Orkney.

  • Opportunities to participate in outstanding national and international department-led field research projects, from Aberdeenshire to Alaska, and receive practical training in survey, excavation and documentation methods.

  • Field-based teaching and study visits to local archaeological sites, monuments and museums.

  • Strong interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the strengths of related academic subjects across the University within the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences.
  • Excellent laboratory facilities, outstanding museum collections and exhibitions, and the award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with its atmospheric study environment, state-of-the-art technology and extensive collection of Archaeology books and journals.
  • Research-active staff among the world-leaders in their fields.
  • Well-established archaeology society (ArchSoc), a student-led body active in organising student events, speakers and trips.
  • A packed campus programme of public events, exhibitions, seminars, café debates, including the annual May Festival, British Science Week and the Being Human Festival – all welcoming internationally acclaimed experts, authors, and broadcasters, and showcasing Aberdeen research and discoveries in archaeology.  

Entry Requirements

You will find all the information you require about entry requirements on our dedicated 'Entry Requirements' page. You can also find out about the different types of degrees, changing your subject, offers and advanced entry.

Qualifications

SQA Highers - AABB
A Levels - BBB
IB - 32 points, including 5,5,5 at HL
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

Further detailed entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,000
All Students
International Students £13,800
Students admitted in 2016/17
International Students £14,300
Students admitted in 2017/18

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate Open Day

Our next Open Day will be on

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Careers

The curriculum is designed to equip graduates with the practical and research skills required to work as professional archaeologists. The broad- based nature of the discipline enables graduates to compete strongly in the market place. The analytical and communications skills acquired by Archaeology graduates make them sought- after in a wide variety of fields including commerce, research and a range of professions.

Career Opportunities

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Heritage Volunteer
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Project Archaeologist
  • Writer

What our Alumni Say

  • Michael Stratigos
    Michael Stratigos, PhD Student at University of Aberdeen

    Michael Stratigos

    Job Details
    PhD Student , University of Aberdeen
    Graduated
    I ultimately settled on Aberdeen because it offered a course that seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for. A four year programme in Archaeology that had numerous opportunities to be hands-on and in the field.

Our Experts

Our staff are prominent researchers and fieldworkers in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, the North Atlantic and the circumpolar region from Siberia to the Canadian arctic. Closer to home, the archaeology of Scotland is a natural priority.

Spanning the humanities and physical sciences, our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes offer a complete archaeological education with a distinctive northern flavour.

Other Experts
Dr Gordon Noble
Dr Kate Britton

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.

Facilities

  • Petrographic and stereomicroscopes
  • Palynology laboratory
  • Hydrology laboratory
  • Dirty and clean sedimentary laboratories
  • Soil chemistry laboratory
  • Bioarchaeology laboratory and faunal reference collection
  • Archaeological Chemistry laboratory
  • Trace Element Speciation Laboratory
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Archaeology Student Society

Archaeology Student Society

A group for all those studying Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen or for anyone who has an interest in the past.

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Archaeology Fieldwork

Archaeology Fieldwork

We encourage all of our students to participate in a University field project, although opportunities to work on approved digs and surveys outside of the University are also supported.

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Archaeology In the News

Archaeology In the News

Leading Pictish Archaeology in the news.

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Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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