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Postgraduate Study

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 one two-term 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 6-8 supervision sessions per year depending on the nature of
their course and dissertation.

Seminars & classes

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. Most modules include a number of seminars during Michaelmas and Lent terms. Students can expect around 4-6 hours per week of seminars in Michaelmas and Lent terms depending on their module choices. 


Lectures are designed to present and discuss the foundations and major academic themes covered in each module. Students can expect around 4-5 hours per week of lectures in Michaelmas and Lent terms depending on their 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.

Posters and Presentations

All MPhil students are usually required to make a presentation to staff and peers as part 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 coursework  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 dissertation carries a maximum 15,000 word limit (exclusive of tables, figures, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices) and is submitted at the end of July; 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.

Written examination

Students taking the MPhil in Archaeological Science  may be required to sit in-class tests for some modules. Details will be given on the appropriate Moodle site at the beginning of the year. 


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

10 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

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Course on Department Website

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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