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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Assyriology is no longer accepting new applications.

This MPhil caters both for beginners in Akkadian and those with some previous knowledge of the language. A demanding course, this MPhil delivers competence in the language and specialist knowledge of Mesopotamian culture and social history over a relatively short time. It can be a final degree or serve as the basis for further research using cuneiform documents or material culture. This taught MPhil recruits students who are prepared for graduate work and wish to undertake research in the field of ancient Mesopotamia making use of the wealth of information to be derived from the cuneiform textual sources, whether on linguistic, historical or cultural topics.

The aims of the course are to: 

provide students with the opportunity to study, at an advanced level, substantive subjects and major debates in the field of ancient Mesopotamia, through lectures, seminars, and language classes; by the end of the course, students are expected to display competence in this field. 

prepare students for research in the languages, history, culture and archaeology of Mesopotamia at doctoral level and beyond; by the end of the course, students are expected to be able to pursue independent research in this specialisation. 

give students training in a range of general, transferable skills, such as writing, presentation, research design, data analysis, and formulating and analysing arguments. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to exercise these skills in independent research in historical, archaeological, literary, linguistic and cultural topics, and in any professional-level work which requires them. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this MPhil, students should have: 

a good working knowledge of one or both of the principal languages of ancient Mesopotamia (Akkadian and Sumerian) and the cuneiform script, combined with a detailed study of aspects of the archaeology and culture of Mesopotamia, and (where appropriate) other regions.

Students also learn to participate in academic discussion at postgraduate level and to produce a substantial piece of independent written original research (the dissertation).


Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology who wish to continue to the PhD in Archaeology are required to
achieve a mark of at least 68 overall and no less than 68 in their dissertation. They must obtain the support of an
appropriate supervisor before making an application. In some circumstances, additional academic conditions may be set to ensure that appropriate skills are in place prior to admittance on the PhD programme.

Students wishing to continue with language-based PhD topics must have achieved a mark of at least 68 in Akkadian and/or Sumerian.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

Key Information

10 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

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Application - related enquiries

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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