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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Archaeological Research is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil provides training in archaeological research methods and associated transferable skills, and the opportunity to complete a research dissertation under academic guidance.

The MPhil in Archaeological Research consists of three components, structured around independent study:

A research paper (6,000 words);

A research skills module;

The dissertation (25,000 words).

The MPhil in Archaeological Research is carried out through independent research conducted under the guidance of the supervisor. Students and the course coordinator agree on a supervisor and a topic, generally in advance of beginning the course. The supervisor is assigned based upon the student’s particular research interests and focus. Following the induction period, students meet regularly with their supervisors to report on their work, to discuss academic issues and research directions, and to resolve any problems arising in the research process. Students typically aim to identify a dissertation topic, research resources such as datasets, and theoretical directions during their first term of work (October – December), and to formulate a concrete and detailed research proposal during the second term (January – March). The dissertation itself is written during the third term (April-June) and the summer and handed in at the end of July. 

One to one supervision

Students can normally expect to have around eight supervision sessions per year depending on the nature of their research and dissertation.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Attendance at seminars and classes is not a required component of the MPhil in Archaeological Research, with the exception of the research skills module. However, students are encouraged to attend classes relevant to their chosen research topic.


Attendance at lectures is not a required component of the MPhil in Archaeological Research, with the exception of the research skills module. However, students are encouraged to attend lectures relevant to their chosen research topic.


Practical sessions are not a required component of the MPhil in Archaeological Research. However, students are encouraged to attend practical sessions relevant to their chosen research topic.

Small group teaching

Most teaching is conducted on a one-on-one basis. Students are, however, encouraged to engage with the broader graduate research community during the course of their studies.

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are expected to form part of the assessed research paper submitted in the Easter term in preparation for the dissertation.

Posters and Presentations

All MPhil students are usually required to make a presentation to staff and peers as part of the assessed component of their research skills module.


Students receive written feedback on their research paper and assessed elements of the research skills module from internal markers via the Teaching Administrator. Final overall marks are made available to students following the final examiners' meeting which is usually held at the end of September.

Students are invited to group meetings throughout the year to discuss progress and concerns in order to address issues as and when they arise.

All students will undergo regular supervision sessions with their dissertation supervisor.


Thesis / Dissertation

The dissertation is an extended piece of independent, original research. Students work with their supervisor to formulate a dissertation project, carry out research and write it up. The topic of the dissertation has to be approved by the Faculty Degree Committee; the maximum permitted length of the dissertation is 25,000 words (excluding bibliography, tables, figures and appendices) and is submitted at the end of July; it counts as 70 per cent of the student’s final mark.


A research paper of up to 6000 words will account for 25 per cent of the final mark for the degree and will be developed under guidance from the student’s supervisor. The research paper is an important milestone which helps students progress towards the dissertation.


Attendance at the relevant research skills workshops is required of all MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology. Its mode of assessment may include a research proposal and/or an oral presentation (supported by visual aids) to teaching staff and peers. This accounts for 5 per cent of the final mark.

Key Information

10 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
April 24, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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