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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Archaeological Science is no longer accepting new applications.


All MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology take a Research Skills module that is taught in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

Students are required to take two one-term core modules, on Principles and Practice of Archaeological Science.
Students must also select two one-term option modules on archaeological science specialisations, typically including one in Michaelmas and one in Lent Term.

In addition, students select either a one-year-long module or two one-term modules from those listed in the Department of Archaeology.

All MPhil students are required to submit a dissertation, the topic of which is agreed with a supervisor at the start of Lent Term, with data collection carried out during Lent and Easter Term, and write-up during the summer.

One to one supervision

Supervisions with module coordinators or their regular supervisor give the student the opportunity to discuss general and specific issues in the conduct of the course. A supervisor, possibly, but not necessarily the same one, will also be appointed for the dissertation, to help with the choice of topic and monitor the progress of the student’s research for the dissertation throughout the year. Supervisions provide the student with an opportunity to seek academic information and advice and they provide the forum to monitor the student's progress.

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

Seminars & classes

The MPhil in Archaeological Science is taught through lectures, seminars, laboratory activities, object handling and other practical work. The specific mixture of methods varies according to the options chosen, but the core modules will ensure that students are exposed to a sufficiently diverse range of teaching methods so as to ensure they acquire the necessary theoretical and practical subject knowledge base in addition to developing transferable skills in critical reading, writing, analysis, and presentation.

 Seminars are designed to provide students with intensive critical engagement with staff across a wide range of specialisms relevant to the courses selected. They are designed to be interactive and students are expected to prepare in advance. Students may be required to give seminar-style presentations from time to time.


Lectures are designed to present and discuss the foundations and major academic themes covered in each module. The amount of time spent in lectures will vary depending on the student's module choices.


Laboratory activities will provide practical demonstrations of some of the scientific principles and techniques introduced during lectures and seminars, as well as initial training in the techniques required for the dissertation research.

Object-based sessions will use artifacts or other materials as the focal point for discussion or practical training in concepts, theories and methods relevant to the modules.

Journal clubs

Students are encouraged to involve themselves in the Department's graduate-run journal, the 'Archaeological review from Cambridge'.

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. Some taught modules use student presentations within a class as a pedagogical tool.


Students receive written feedback on all assessed essays and reports from internal markers via the postgraduate
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 dissertation carries a maximum 15,000 word limit (exclusive of tables, figures, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices) and is submitted at the end of August; it counts for 50 per cent of the student’s final mark.


Assessment for the modules offered for the MPhil in Archaeological Science varies as appropriate to the aims of the modules, but can include assessed essays, laboratory reports, literature reviews and presentations. All work is double blind marked and reviewed by the Department’s external examiner to ensure fairness and consistency.


Attendance at the relevant Research Skills workshops is required of all MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology. Its mode of assessment will usually include a research proposal and an oral presentation (supported by visual aids) to teaching staff and peers.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
April 26, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.

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