Archaeology MA / Diploma / Certificate Cultural Archaeology pathway

The Archaeology MA: Cultural Archaeology pathway focuses on cultural interpretation in archaeology, both in relation to specific cultures/periods and current research themes, with opportunities to specialise in a range of subjects, including material culture studies, funerary archaeology, British and European prehistory, and Greek and Roman archaeology. It is an ideal foundation for doctoral research in all fields of cultural archaeology, as well as training in practical and research skills for careers in archaeology and heritage.

We offer the flexibility to upgrade from Certificate to Diploma level and from Diploma to Masters level during your programme as you develop your postgraduate studies. We also offer a Landscape Archaeology pathway on the Archaeology MA.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: MA - 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time; Diploma - 8 months full-time, 16 months part-time; Certificate - 4 months full-time, 8 months part-time

Start date: September

Details

You will study three core modules:

  • Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation
  • Material Culture
  • Funerary Archaeology

In addition, MA and Diploma students choose three optional modules from a wide range of subjects including landscape archaeology, late prehistoric Europe, Greek archaeology, ancient Egyptian society, empire and identity in the Roman world, Byzantine archaeology, GIS and spatial analysis, and field survey.

Research training is provided for all postgraduate students, and MA students put this into practice by researching a topic of your own choice for a supervised 15,000 word dissertation.

Modules

You will study three core modules:

Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation
This module delivers a generic disciplinary introduction to the MA Archaeology programme. It focuses on key areas of theory, method and interpretation, embracing a range of cultural, landscape, professional, heritage and environment themes and how these are integrated. It is also designed to develop and enhance key practical and research skills, especially in oral presentation, teamwork and essay-writing.

Material Culture
This module provides an introduction to material culture studies and artefact analysis in Archaeology, drawing on the wide range of approaches to material culture in related disciplines such as Anthropology. It serves to create a foundation in material culture theory, analysis and interpretation that underpins the overall approach to investigation and interpretation followed by the pathway as a whole. Key themes include classification and typology, technology, functionalism, symbolism, contextual analysis, agency theory and signification, aesthetics, and the material analysis and representation of artefacts in both research and popular media. The module comprises lectures, seminar classes, and hands-on analysis of material culture in class exercises and other contexts.

Funerary Archaeology
This module presents a critical review of theoretical approaches and interpretative themes in contemporary funerary archaeology, and examines the central significance of this field of study in current debates in world archaeology. As a core module for the Cultural Archaeology pathway, it uses this evidence-rich field of study to explore the relationships between cultural ideals, values, social agency and symbolic representation. There will be particular focus on a range of interpretative themes, including social interpretation, cultural identity and personhood, ritual practice, and past belief systems. It will draw widely on cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary case studies in archaeology and cognate disciplines such as anthropology and history.

MA and Diploma students also choose three optional modules from a range which includes:

Landscape Archaeology
This module aims to introduce you to the subject of landscape archaeology and themes in the documentation and analysis of landscapes. You will receive a broad introduction to landscapes through a series of thematic sessions covering field methodology and application to landscape types from townscape to islands. You will be able to develop an appreciation of a range of landscape types, the theoretical issues and present interpretative trends in landscape studies, as well as an appreciation of the techniques used by archaeologists to record and classify landscapes. You will also acquire knowledge of remote sensing techniques in landscape studies including the role of aerial photography and satellite sensing and the application of these in data collection.

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.

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. The module 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 module 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.

GIS and Spatial Analysis
This course aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of computational landscape analysis using GIS. The course will introduce you to advanced concepts of GIS and spatial analysis and the application of GIS to landscape studies, covering concepts such as the development of data models for landscape archaeology, airborne/satellite remote sensing and issues relating to the deployment of GIS for both research and curatorial purposes.

Field Survey
This module introduces you to the theory and practice of recording the archaeological and environmental elements of ancient landscapes, from a scale of individual structures and monuments to integrated surveys of past cultural and natural landscapes. The module will include an introduction to the fundamentals of geodetic survey and students will receive practical training in basic measured survey using a variety of equipment and learn to work with survey data in both conventional and digital formats. The module will also explore the potential of survey data for analysis through assessment by a group project using data through work generated through the course Field School. The Field School will take place at an appropriate site or landscape selected by the staff.

Fees and funding

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

MA

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

Diploma

  • Home/EU: £4,140 full-time; £2,070 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,140 full-time

Certificate

  • Home/EU: £2,070 full-time or part-time
  • Overseas: £7,070 full-time

For part-time students studying an MA or Diploma, 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

  • For the MA programme, we normally require a 2:1 degree, or equivalent, in a discipline relevant to the selected pathway
  • For the PG Diploma and PG Certificate programmes, we normally require a 2:2 degree, or equivalent

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

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

Learn more about applying

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

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.