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Postgraduate Study

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.

All MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology take a Research Skills module and write a dissertation (15,000 words maximum). For the MPhil in Assyriology students also choose either three modules selected from a list of modules in Assyriology or two modules selected from a list of modules in Assyriology and one two-term module or two one-term modules from a list of optional modules in the Department of Archaeology. Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology must take a minimum of one Language module from the list of modules in Assyriology published by the department. The module choices must be approved by the Director of the MPhil in Assyriology.

Modules typically offered include:

  • Akkadian (Introductory Akkadian language and texts or Advanced Akkadian language and texts)
  • Sumerian language and texts (The combination of Sumerian and Akkadian is at the discretion of the course coordinator).
  • Mesopotamian culture (Mesopotamian religion, literature, and scholarship or Mesopotamian society,
  • economy, and politics)
  • Archaeology of Mesopotamia ('Prehistory to early States' or 'States to Empires' )

Not all modules will be available in all years.

Learning Outcomes

To provide the student with 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 beginning of November. 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.

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Key Information

10 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
April 26, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.

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