Attendance mode: Full-time
Start date: September
Faculty of Life Sciences
This one year, full-time MSc in Archaeological Sciences gives graduates in Archaeology and related subjects a systematic training in the application of modern scientific methods.
It gives you the practical, analytical and interpretative skills you need to apply a wide range of specialist approaches, preparing you not only for research in archaeological science but also to pursue career opportunities in all areas of mainstream archaeology.
You will join a group of postgraduate students from across the world and have the opportunity to use a wide range of specialist facilities and collections, whilst being taught by internationally recognised, research-active academic staff.
You can use the course to obtain broad expertise in the field, or to specialise in areas such as:
- Environmental Archaeology, covering environmental change, subsistence and health through studies of animal bones, plant remains and biomarkers in human and non-human hard tissue.
- Landscape Archaeology, focusing on understanding and interpreting landscapes in the past using prospection methods, visualisation and GIS.
- Chronology and Biomolecules, specialising in the use of physical, chemical and biomolecular methods to study and date both human remains and artefacts.
We also offer a part-time version of the course, which can be completed in two years.
Teaching staff are active researchers and provide excellence in both teaching (‘Excellent’ in the last Subject Review) and research (ranked 7th nationally for 4* research and 3rd nationally for research impact, REF 2014).
You will use a wide range of specialist facilities and collections, including geophysical survey, 3D visualisation, image analysis, materials investigation, botanical and faunal analysis and the largest collection of human skeletal remains in any UK archaeology department - over 4,000 skeletons dating from the Neolithic to the 19th century.
Global student body
You will be taught in small groups with postgraduate students from across the globe. Recent students have come from the UK, Greece, Italy, Spain, Norway, India, Pakistan, China, Iraq, Australia, Canada and USA.
Excellent graduate prospects
The course offers an excellent foundation for progression to PhD research or employment with specialist skills. First destination figures indicate that 85% of postgraduates in Archaeological Sciences achieve work or further studies in the discipline or cognate areas. Career destinations have included PhDs across the world and roles in commercial archaeology, law enforcement (Police Officers and Scene of Crime/Scientific Support), forensic science, osteology and museums.
Develop your own path
Flexible design means that the programme is well-suited both to students who wish to use it as a foundation from which to commence further research or as vocational training to enhance employment prospects in archaeology.
We welcome applications from all potential students and most important in the decision to offer a place is our assessment of your potential to benefit from your studies and of your ability to succeed on this particular programme. Consideration of applications will be based on a combination of formal academic qualifications and other relevant experience.
The standard entry requirements for the programme are:
- A first degree in Archaeology or another relevant discipline, normally with a second-class degree or higher or equivalent for UK students
- Applications are welcome from students with non-standard qualifications, and mature students (those over 21 years of age on entry) with significant relevant experience
- Admission will be judged on an individual basis of overseas students, at an equivalent level to UK entry requirements
- For North American students normally a GPA of at least 2.5 on a scale of 4.0 is required, or an equivalent
Admissions are made on the basis of demonstrated ability, qualifications, experience, references, and, occasionally, interviews. A completed application form, references, official transcripts, or a list of programmes/modules and grades/marks stamped by your undergraduate department or student registry are required of all applicants.
Recognition of Prior Learning
If you have prior certificated learning or professional experience which may be equivalent to parts of this programme, the University has procedures to evaluate and recognise this learning in order to provide applicants with exemptions from specified modules or parts of the programme.
English language requirements:
If English is not your first language you must have IELTS at 6.0 or the equivalent, with no less than 5.5 in each sub test.
If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.
The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.
Find more information on our module descriptors page.
The programme comprises a core of compulsory modules to provide appropriate background in theory and application of scientific methods in archaeology and a wide range of option choices to develop specialist skills.
The emphasis of the programme is on the learning of fundamental scientific principles across a number of disciplines (e.g. quantitative methods, statistics, physics, chemistry, biology and materials science) and applying these to archaeological contexts, drawing on areas of expertise in the School.
In addition to undertaking core modules in ‘Nature of Matter and Instrumental Analysis’ and ‘Archaeometry’, you take at least 20 credits of modules that cover specific analytical techniques, which include a strong hands-on element. These modules are chosen to suit your specific interests, in discussion with the programme manager and are drawn from a range of modules offered within the University.
You can then choose from a variety of optional modules normally following one of three pathways. Environmental Archaeology (which includes the following optional modules: ‘Analysis of Human Remains’, ‘Plants and Animals in Past Societies’) focuses on subsistence and health through studies of animal bones, plant remains and biomarkers in human and non-human hard tissue. It also introduces environmental issues which impact on humans, including environmental change. Landscape Archaeology (which includes ‘Plants and Animals in Past Societies’ ‘Site Evaluation Strategies and GIS’, and ‘Archaeological Prospection and Visualisation’) focuses on understanding and interpreting landscapes in the past using scientific methods. Biomolecular Archaeology (which includes ‘Analysis of Human Remains’, ‘Grave Concerns: Investigating Archaeology of Death’) allows students to specialise in the use of biomolecular methods to study both human remains and artefacts. The pathways are intended to guide you through appropriate modules; they are indicative rather than prescriptive and you may choose to take the optional modules offered in any combination, subject to timetabling.
The module in ‘Professional Development’ starts by guiding you in identifying your own learning needs and the resources to address them, and goes on to prepare you for your research project, including planning of research, research design, time management, ethics, and health and safety. The final element of the programme is a substantial dissertation.
It is expected that on successful completion of the entire programme you will be fully prepared to undertake research at MPhil or PhD level.
Modules: (C) = Core, (O) = Option
Semester 1 (60 Credits - 3 x (C) Modules and 30 Credits from the (O) Modules listed):
- Quantitative Methods (10 Credits) (C)
- Analytical Methods 1* (10 Credits) (C)
- The Nature of Matter 1 (10 Credits) (C)
- Analysis of Human Remains (20 Credits) (O)
- GIS: Theory and Practice (10 Credits) (O)
- Archaeozoology (10 Credits) (O)
- Introduction to Forensic Archaeology (20 Credits) (O)
Semester 2 (60 Credits - 4 x (C) Modules and 20 Credits from the (O) Modules listed):
- Analytical Methods 2* (10 Credits) (C)
- Research Skills (10 Credits) (C)
- Techniques and Interpretation in Instrumental Analysis (10 Credits) (C)
- Topics in Archaeometry (10 Credits) (C)
- Forensic Taphonomy (20 Credits) (O)
- Funerary Archaeology (10 Credits) (O)
- Past Environments (20 Credits) (O)
- Site Evaluation Strategies (20 Credits) (O)
- Soils and Chemical Prospection (10 Credits) (O)
End of Semester 2 onwards (60 Credits - 1 x (C) Module):
- Dissertation (MSc) (60 Credits) (C)
* Students must take at least 20 credits from Analytical Methods 1 and 2. These comprise a wide choice of 10 credit modules run as short courses are shared with the MSc Analytical Sciences. These modules are run as short courses.
- X-Ray Diffraction
- Separation Science
- Vibrational Spectroscopy
- Mass Spectrometry
- Stable Light Isotope Analysis
- Electron Microscopy
Learning activities and assessment
The teaching and learning strategy takes into consideration the learning outcomes, the nature of the subject, and the need for you to take responsibility for your own learning as part of this advanced taught programme.
The thematic modules are delivered in a combination of formal lectures, student-led intensive seminars/tutorials and extensive practical instruction. Coursework (laboratory and field reports, worksheets, essays) is geared towards demonstrating relevant knowledge, understanding and professional skills in principal approaches to the application and use of scientific methods in archaeology. Elements of group work are part of core specialist modules; communication skills are tested in both written and oral form in several modules.
The degree progresses through a spiral curriculum, with each teaching / assessment block developing and building on prior learning. The underlying knowledge and understanding is then drawn upon in the Dissertation (c.15000 words) which encompasses a substantial piece of original research, ultimately assessed for its publishable merit.
The assessment strategy is designed to support the learning outcomes of each specific module. It uses a wide range of assessment methods, including coursework (worksheets, critiques, laboratory reports, research design, essays), exams (practical tests), and oral presentations. Assessment elements are regularly structured in a way that allows you to benefit from formative learning towards summative assessment.
Career support and prospects
The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.
Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.
The course prepares students not only for research in archaeological science, but also furthers career prospects in mainstream archaeology or scientific analysis. The course is well-suited both to students who wish to use it as a foundation from which to commence research or as vocational training to enhance employment prospects in archaeology.
Career destinations have included PhDs at Universities of York, Bradford, Oxford, Texas A&M, Catamarca; UNESCO research; archaeological project managers; conservation science and teaching.
Archaeology engages the entire human past in all its temporal and spatial dimensions. It is fundamental to our understanding of how we evolved and our communities developed, and how we study, preserve and interpret our past.
At Bradford, our distinctive approach emphasises the integration of the natural and physical sciences in this enquiry. In accordance with the University’s mission, making knowledge work, the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences aims to provide excellence in a comprehensive range of archaeological topics, with emphasis on both teaching and research, believing the two activities to be mutually dependent.
You will use a wide range of specialist facilities and collections, including geophysical survey, 3D visualisation, image analysis, materials investigation, botanical and faunal analysis and the largest collection of human skeletal remains in any UK archaeology department, over 4,000 skeletons, dating from the Neolithic to the 19th century.
If you would like to visit our facilities, please contact us to arrange a tour. Alternatively, take an online tour of our archaeology facilities through our Virtual Experience.
Fees, Finance and Scholarships
- Home/EU - £7,750
International - £17,600
Tuition fees are subject to review for students starting their course in subsequent years. See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.
We have one Master's Studentship Award available for students starting their course in September 2017.
The award, linked to the AHRC Heritage Consortium, will provide funding to a high quality applicant. The funding will allow you to focus on developing high level skills and competencies for research and professional practice. The studentship, valued at £8,933, will cover the course fee and provide an attractive maintenance award subject to eligibility criteria.
You may also be eligible to apply for the government's new Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 to put towards your fees and living costs.
How do I find out more?
Contact the Faculty
For further information contact the programme leader, Dr Cathy Batt on email@example.com.
Steps to Postgraduate Study
Find out more about studying at a postgraduate level on the official, independent website Steps to Postgraduate Study (link opens in new window).
How to apply
The easiest way to apply is online.
- Apply for 2017/18 courses (September 2017 – July 2018 start dates)
- Apply for 2018/19 courses (September 2018 – July 2019 start dates)
This will help us process your application more quickly and allow you to submit your supporting documents electronically.
If you are unable to apply online, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a paper application form.
We will also need the following supporting documents, along with any other information specified on the course page:
- Degree certificates/transcripts
- Research proposal (if required)
- Two references (including one academic reference)
- Evidence of English language level (if required)
- A copy of your passport
Once you have applied you will have access to the University's Applicant Portal, where you can track the status of your application.
You should also start thinking about how you plan to fund your postgraduate study — you may need to apply for loans or grants at this stage.
If you applying from outside the UK and require additional support you may apply through your country representative.
They can help you at every stage and communicate with the University on your behalf. They often provide additional services to ensure your smooth arrival to the UK such as visa application support and assistance with your travel arrangements.
Further information is available on our International Office website.
Download the programme specification for Archaeological Sciences
This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.