Archaeology MA / Diploma / Certificate Landscape Archaeology pathway

The Archaeology MA: Landscape Archaeology pathway will allow you to develop a thorough knowledge of current investigative methods in landscape archaeology, and current approaches to the interpretation of human agency in past landscapes and their social and cultural construction.

There are opportunities to specialise in a range of practical techniques, digital landscape studies, and interpretative approaches in thematic and period/area landscape studies. These include the investigation of both prehistoric and historic landscapes around the world, and topics such as sacred landscapes, funerary landscapes, the spatiality of warfare and conflict, landscapes of inhabitation, wetlands, and environmental and landscape change. The pathway is ideal for research preparation, or as a basis for professional careers and career development 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 Cultural Archaeology pathway on the Archaeology MA.

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five departments of Classics in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

The MA Archaeology programme provides a foundation for doctoral study, or for developing research skills and capabilities applicable in professional fields in Archaeology and Heritage, and for demonstrating expertise in chosen aspects of archaeological method and interpretation.

The course structure combines the advantages of training in technical and methodological areas, gaining in-depth knowledge of particular thematic, period-based and/or geographical fields of archaeological study, with the freedom to pursue your own research interests through your Masters dissertation project.

You will study three core modules:

  • Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis
  • Landscape Archaeology

In addition, MA and Diploma students select three optional modules from a wide range of choices. These can include field survey, virtual landscapes, digital cultures, funerary archaeology, material culture, and cultural studies ranging from European prehistory and Egyptology to Classical and Byzantine archaeology. Full module descriptions are available below.

MA Archaeology students are encouraged to develop a broad range of transferable skills during the course. These include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the ability to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; analytical rigour; confident oral presentation; and the capacity for critical argument and debate.

Research training is also provided for all postgraduate students.

Assessment

Modules are typically assessed by written assignment, with the exception of Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation which also requires a presentation. MA students also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation.

Why study this course

The programme benefits from outstanding learning resources and the wider context of postgraduate study within the department and university, notably: 

  • Exceptional learning resources – you will have access to a range of learning resources including environmental and material culture teaching collections, the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Museum, and the Danford Collection of African art and artefacts.
  • Research strengths – Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five departments of Classics in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Extensive library collections – the University Library holds excellent Archaeology collections covering an extremely wide range of archaeological themes, subjects, periods and geographical areas.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – you will join a lively postgraduate community with many opportunities to enhance your learning from events, research seminars and conferences; there is always something happening in the Department.
  • Access to a wide range of services – as a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away.

Hear from our students

Modules

You will study three core modules:

Archaeological Theory, Method and Interpretation

This module delivers a generic disciplinary introduction to how archaeologists investigate and interpret past cultural worlds and social life. It focuses on key areas of theory, method and interpretation, embracing a range of cultural archaeology, landscape archaeology, heritage and environmental archaeology themes. It is also designed to develop and enhance key practical and research skills, especially in oral presentation, teamwork and essay-writing.
Assessment: Written assignment and presentation

GIS and Spatial Analysis

This module aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of landscape analysis using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The module introduces 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, GIS as a research tool, and issues relating to the deployment of GIS for both research and curatorial purposes.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Landscape Archaeology

This module surveys contemporary landscape archaeology and themes in the analysis and interpretation of past landscapes. It provides an introduction to theoretical approaches in landscape archaeology, and how different kinds of landscapes and extensive forms of landscape organisation, social practice and perception have been recognised, investigated and interpreted archaeologically. Methodologies of landscape-scale study will be reviewed and evaluated in the light of theoretical frameworks, research agendas, and the impacts of investigative techniques, including remote sensing and geophysical survey. The course is delivered in both class contexts and through a field study visit to explore the design and application of fieldwork methodologies in a specific landscape setting, interpretations of the past cultural landscapes revealed, and their modern representation and construction.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay 

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

Archaeology of Greece

This module provides an advanced overview of approaches to the archaeology of Greece from prehistory to the Roman period. Students will be introduced to contemporary developments in the theory and practice of archaeology, and will gain expertise in using and interpreting a variety of evidence including site reports, artefacts and iconography in addressing archaeological questions, and in relating archaeological evidence to textual evidence where available. The module will include a series of case studies of important archaeological sites across a range of periods.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Byzantine Archaeology and Material Culture

The module surveys the history of archaeological practice as it concerns the post-Roman East, and explores key aspects of the Late Roman and Transitional (‘Dark-Age’) archaeological record, different archaeological strategies, and how archaeological literature can be used to understand some of the major long-term changes that characterise the period AD 300-800. It focuses in particular on interpretative themes such as Christianisation, invasions, demographic changes, the transformation of urban culture, and changes in rural settlement, agriculture and artisanal production.
Assessment: Written assignment

Creating Europe: Complex Societies 1000 BC – AD 1000

This module explores the nature of complex societies in Europe from the Iron Age to the early medieval period, and their interactions with the state-organised societies of the Mediterranean. It is organised thematically and chronologically, focusing on interpretations of complex societies, large-scale economic and political systems, ethnicity, elite culture, chiefdoms, state formation, empire, urbanism, coinage, and long-term change. Case studies are drawn from a wide range of cultural contexts in north-west and central Europe, using both archaeological and historical evidence. A key theme addressed throughout the module is the extent to which social forms and transformations in Europe can be explained in terms of indigenous cultural, economic and political processes or in terms of inter-regional Mediterranean/temperate European influences and dependencies.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Empire and Identity

This module considers the impact of the Roman Empire on peoples’ perceptions of themselves and how this was represented through their material culture. The lectures are arranged thematically, covering the period from c. 250 BCE to 300 CE. Based on primary archaeological evidence and on the critical evaluation of previous scholarship, the module aims at analysing the specific quality of Rome’s rule over the Mediterranean and Central and North-western Europe and the various forms of cultural (and violent) interaction this hegemony entailed. Lectures will focus on a broad range of topics, such as the changing perceptions on the concept of ‘Romanisation’, the army as an incubator of Roman identity, religion and identity in the empire, bathing and Roman identity, urbanism and empire, violence and cultural transformation, Roman art and society, imperial modes of production, and the creation of Roman provincial landscapes.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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 includes an introduction to the fundamentals of geodetic survey and you 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.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

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. The extraordinarily rich and diverse character of mortuary evidence is highlighted, with particular focus on how this kind of evidence is used to explore the relationships between cultural ideals, values, social agency and symbolic representation. Key interpretative themes that are considered from several perspectives include social interpretation, cultural identity and personhood, ritual practice, and past belief systems. The module draws widely on cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary case studies in archaeology and cognate disciplines such as anthropology and history.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Material Culture

This module provides an introduction to material culture studies and artefact analysis in Archaeology, drawing on wider perspectives on materiality in related disciplines such as Anthropology. It serves to create a foundation in material culture theory, analysis and interpretation, focusing on current archaeological approaches to the study of artefacts and the materiality of cultural life. 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 analysis of material culture in class exercises and other contexts.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay 


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

MA

  • UK/EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £17,010 full-time

Diploma

  • UK/EU: £6,000 full-time; £3,000 part-time
  • International: £17,010 full-time

Certificate

  • UK/EU: £3,000 full-time or part-time
  • International: £8,505 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.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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

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

MA Archaeology students attend a wide range of seminars, lectures, and classes as part of their taught modules, potentially including computer suite-based classes, a survey field school, and study visits, depending on the modules selected. 

Dissertation research is conducted independently, guided by a supervisor selected for their expertise and experience relevant to the student's project, with supervisory meetings taking place on a regular basis. The course benefits from excellent library resources for archaeological study, housed within the new University Library situated close to the department, and MA students join the wider, dynamic community of Archaeology staff and students at the University with opportunities to attend seminar series, public lectures, social events, and potentially participate in departmental field projects. 

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology

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.

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: AC archaeology; University of Birmingham; National Trust; and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.