MA Antiquity: European Archaeology pathway

The Antiquity MA: European Archaeology pathway focuses on archaeological evidence for the peoples of Europe from prehistory to the beginning of the Middle Ages. Uniquely, it provides a coherent understanding of changing cultures and societies from Scandinavia through to the Mediterranean.

Some students go on to further research at doctoral level, but this pathway also stands alone as an opportunity to pursue your interests in more depth than was possible at undergraduate level, and arrive at a new understanding of what Europe means today. This is one of several pathways available on the Antiquity MA.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date: September

Details

This is the degree for you if you enjoyed studying the ancient world as an undergraduate, and would now like to study European Archaeology in greater depth and at a higher level; or if you want to explore this aspect of antiquity and it wasn’t included in your first degree. It allows you to specialise, but also encourages you to branch out into related disciplines and to consider interdisciplinary approaches.

You will study three core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC – 100 AD 
  • Approaches to Images, Material Culture and Texts
  • Research Skills

You will also choose three optional modules from across all of the programme’s pathways, offering the opportunity for interdisciplinary study. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision.  

Why study this course

The ancient world has been studied at the University of Birmingham for more than a hundred years. Particular current research strengths include: the relationship between Europe and the East in Late Antiquity; Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual and cult; Greek colonisation; the ancient and late antique city; the archaeology of death and burial and of human remains; environmental archaeology; the archaeology of landscape; archaeological imaging and remote sensing techniques.

With such a range of expertise available, you will be supported to explore your specific interests, particularly through the dissertation.

Modules

You will study three core modules:

Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC – 1000 AD 

This module uses a series of case studies of important sites to assess the processes of cultural change across Europe across this exciting, turbulent and formative era, with its movements of peoples and shifts of power between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. In addition to your knowledge of interpretive approaches and key sites you will acquire a thorough grounding in the latest developments in the theory and practice of European Archaeology. You will learn to reach independent answers to archaeological questions based on interpretation of evidence including site reports, artefacts, written texts and iconography.

Approaches to Images, Material Culture and Texts

This module invites you to experiment with interdisciplinary approaches. Linked to a series of research seminars by academic staff, the module is a forum in which staff and students work together to identify significant current directions in research, and to explore links, and differences, between academic disciplines.

Research Skills

This module will help you to develop the skills necessary for graduate level research, introduce you to the latest methods and techniques for interpreting primary sources, and demonstrate how to make critical use of scholarly works. You will learn how to define and approach interesting research questions, and develop an overview of the fields of scholarship most relevant to your pathway.

You will also choose three optional modules, from a range which typically includes:

Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture I

This module is based on the largest source of fresh evidence for the Late Roman-to- early medieval Eastern Mediterranean world (including southeastern Europe), namely archaeology. It is designed to accustom interested students to using archaeological materials in the discussion of historians’ ideas about economic, social, cultural, and even political changes. A background in archaeology is not essential, but some general aspects of the aims and methods of different types of archaeological projects must be introduced. The module(s) will deal with this by exploring the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East. We will then focus on the new debates which archaeology stimulates about important aspects of history from ca. 300 to ca. 800 AD. These concern the multiple impacts of invaders and invasions, Christianisation, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture, and artisanal production. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, understand the problems and value of different archaeological strategies, and use the burgeoning archaeological literature to discuss some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period ca. 300-800 beyond western and northern Europe.

Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture II

This module is based on the burgeoning archaeology of the medieval eastern Mediterranean and SE Europe and has the same general aims and themes as Late Roman and Byzantine Archaeology I. However, taking account of the rise and spread of Islam, the Slavs, and eventually the Crusades, and the divisions which these brought to the geographical space concerned, the course concentrates on the Christian world in the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus and Anatolia. At the same time the survival of local archives from the 9th c. onwards creates new possibilities for an historical archaeology of regions and sub-regions. By the end of this module you should be able to recognise key aspects of the medieval Byzantine and Crusader (‘Frankish’) archaeological record, use the archaeological literature to question some of the grand narratives of historians, and see ‘dramatic’ short-term historical changes from new perspectives.

Empire and Identity: The City in the Roman West

This module is in two parts, both linked by questions of how contact with the Roman empire changed peoples’ perceptions of themselves and how this was represented in particular through their material culture.

The first part considers the ‘Romanisation’ debate of the last hundred years, from the ‘top-down’ view of Haverfield and his successors, who brought to bear their own experiences of European colonialism and imperialism, through to more recent ‘bottom-up’ analyses employing post-colonial and related analyses, to the current position where the term can be seen as counter-productive.

The second part looks at the construction of ‘barbarian’ identities in the later Roman period (mainly the 4th and 5th centuries). It considers the construction of ‘ethnicity’ in the 20th century, from Kossinna on, and its relationship to material culture (if there is any). The recent discussions of the construction of ‘identity’ rather than just ‘ethnicity’ are considered. Particular use is made of the rich textual and archaeological evidence for the (Visi-)Goths.

Both part of the module seek to deconstruct traditional views and show how new thinking is necessitating profound review of previously accepted categories of ‘ethnicity’ in favour of considerations such as age, gender and status.

Individuals in History

This module explores the theory and practice of historiography, normally in the Roman world, with particular emphasis on the role of the individual. Typically, the module will be centred on a key text or texts which will enable students to develop strategies for reading and understanding the sources (biographic, literary, historical, material cultural) through which the role of the individual is accessed, and the relationship between individuals and their cultures is understood. This module will investigate issues such as: the significance of individuals in models of historical causation; the impact of biographical tropes and the importance of particular topoi for understanding characterisation; theories of the individual, character-development and biographical criticism; how individuals project themselves into history, versus the impact of historiographic/cultural imperatives on the representation of individuals within history.

Plus:

  • Archaeology of Greece
  • Herodotus and Ancient Worlds
  • Myth and Text in Antiquity
  • Research Project Development

Some of these optional modules may form the core of other pathways.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £6,210 full-time; £3,105 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,140 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements


Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

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Making your application

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Learning and teaching

The research modules will train you to a professional level in bibliographic research, project development, information management and retrieval, oral presentation, active listening, and a range of subject-specific skills tailored to this pathway.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Birmingham's Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills including: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

In 2013, over 92% of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Many of our postgraduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as museum and heritage activities and archaeological posts. Elsewhere, a range of professions are undertaken by our graduates, from librarianship and teaching to accountancy. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: AOC Archaeology Group; Blakesley Hall Museum; City and Borough Councils; English Heritage; KPMG; National Trust; and Sotheby?s.