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This course is not running in 2018.

Archaeological Prospection

PG Diploma
Duration: Up to five years
Attendance mode: Part-time
Award: PG Diploma
Not suitable for international students
Start date: September
Faculty of Life Sciences
Apply Prospectus downloads


The course is a highly focused postgraduate degree programme which develops specialist skills in the theory and practice of archaeological prospection, in particular in near-surface geophysics.

It provides students with knowledge and experience of the principal geophysical and geochemical techniques currently available for the detection of buried archaeological features and other near-surface targets. It gives an appropriate background to materials and soil science, together with the relevant mathematical principles.

Other methods of detection such as remote sensing, topographical survey and field-walking are introduced as essential components of an integrated approach to landscape assessment. Sampling procedures and the computer treatment and display of field data from all methods are critically examined with the aid of case studies based on field experience. Skills and knowledge are developed through lectures, seminars, laboratory and fieldwork classes and a formal dissertation.

Find out more about the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences.


"Bradford is an excellent place to study.  

It is the best place in the world to study my course and it has really lived up to my expectations."

Gpam Nieuwlaat
MSc Archaeological Prospection-Shallow Geophysics

Why Bradford?

  • It offers in-depth specialist training, including hands-on experience in the Division's geophysics and computer laboratories and in the field, and a substantial individual research dissertation
  • A part-time route is feasible, accumulating module credits over a period of study. Individual modules are available to candidates wishing to enhance their specialist knowledge in a particular area
  • First destination figures indicate that about 85% of postgraduates in Archaeological Sciences achieve work or further studies in the discipline or cognate areas

Entry requirements

Additional entry requirements:

  • A 2:2 degree in Archaeology or another suitable subject (for example Geography, Geology, Environmental Science, Geophysics or History
  • Students will normally have a minimum of one GCSE in mathematics and one in a physical science
  • Other relevant qualifications will be considered
  • For North American students a GPA of at least 2.5 on a scale of 4.0 is required, or an equivalent

English language requirements:

IELTS at 6.0 or the equivalent.

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.

Modules: All Modules are Core

Semester 1 (60 Credits - 4 Modules):

  • Electrical Methods of Survey (20 Credits)
  • GIS: Theory and Practice (10 Credits)
  • Magnetic and Electromagnetic Methods of Survey (20 Credits)
  • The Nature of Matter* (10 Credits)

Semester 2 (60 Credits - 4 Modules):

  • Research Skills (10 Credits)
  • Site Evaluation Strategies (20 Credits)
  • Soils and Chemical Prospection (10 Credits)
  • Treatment, Display and Interpretation of Field Data (20 Credits)

*If substantial prior experience in this module can be demonstrated, it may be substituted with another module

Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Learning activities and assessment

The dissertation is research based and is undertaken at the end of the second semester. The topics are drawn either from those suggested by the staff or are a result of the student's existing interests. As a result they are highly varied and some recent examples:

  • An investigation into the effectiveness of a magnetic cart based system compared to traditional handheld techniques
  • A comparison between an ERT system and conventional Earth Resistivity arrays
  • Post Medieval lead mining in the Yorkshire Dales: an investigation using magnetometry
  • Investigating voids using multiple GPR configuration
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of a trapezoidal resistance array for archaeological applications
  • The development of a sequential geophysical multi-method prospection design for Norwegian Iron Age Settlements
  • Enhancing magnetic survey interpretation of Roman cities: geophysical data combination and archaeological feedback on Ammaia
  • Investigating the use of magnetic susceptibility in locating and defining DMVs
  • Ground penetrating radar survey and exploratory geophysics at Carlisle Cathedral
  • An Investigation into the Role of Remote Probes for Twin Probe Survey over a Roman Fort Site
  • High Cayton: disentangling the peasant vill from the Cistercian grange using geophysical techniques
  • Social Analysis of Space using Geophysical Data at the Iron Age Site of Entremont, South France
  • Geophysical survey of possible Roman forts along the Roman 'A65', North Yorkshire

Watch our videos where course manager Dr Chris Gaffney explains different geophysics techniques that you will learn during the course.  These videos were part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2015 where Archaeological Sciences showcased their research into The Hidden Landscapes of Stonehenge.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Electromagnetic Induction Device

Earth Resistance Meter


Career support and prospects

Career support

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.

Career prospects

Via a flexible programme of study that reflects staff expertise and current research / commercial themes, students will develop independent learning skills and high-level subject knowledge that will enable them to pursue further research or careers in archaeological prospection.

We expect our graduates to develop critical and analytical problem solving skills and personal transferable skills to prepare students for careers in non-cognate fields.

Many graduates have progressed into prospection companies or have started their own businesses based around techniques and skills acquired at Bradford. For the most recent cohort to graduate (nine students) three are currently undertaking PhD research (Bradford, Birmingham and Ghent), five are working in commercial geophysics and one is training to be a teacher.


Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees


  • Home /EU: £2,060 per year

Tuition fees are subject to review for students starting their course in subsequent years. See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

How do I find out more?

Contact the Faculty

Hear what our students have to say about the course:

Graduate Jimmy Adcock says: "I chose the University of Bradford because the course it offered is fairly unique in archaeology. I had done Geophysics as an undergrad, and that trained me to work in the oil industry but my real interest was using it for archaeological sites and there's only a very small number of places that offer that, and Bradford is one of them. And in fact Bradford was the first place to do scientific degrees for archaeology rather than having it as an art. And so having looked into the different places I could go, Bradford seemed the obvious choice." Read more from Jimmy here.

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.

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 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.

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.