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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Assyriology is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil in Assyriology delivers competence in language and specialist knowledge of culture and history over a relatively short time. All MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology take a Research Skills module and write a dissertation (15,000 words maximum). The MPhil in Assyriology also includes taught modules, chosen in consultation with the supervisor according to the student's interests. Students may be required to give in-class presentations.

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 students' progress.

Students can normally expect to have around 6-8 supervision sessions per year depending on the nature of
their course and dissertation. Supervisions may be held jointly with other students.

Seminars & classes

Seminars are designed to provide students with intensive engagement with academic staff across a wide range of specialisms relevant to the courses selected. Seminars are designed to be interactive, and preparation and participation in seminars are expected of all students. In all taught modules, 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 2-5 hours per week of seminars in Michaelmas and Lent terms depending on their module choices. 


After an introductory exposition of the grammar, language lectures mostly take the form of text-reading classes. Students can expect around 4-6 hours per week of lectures in Michaelmas and Lent terms depending on their module choices. 


The MPhil in Assyriology does not include practical sessions as a component of the course, except insofar as sessions may be held in museums, to examine original cuneiform inscriptions. Students choosing optional modules offered in the MPhil in Archaeology may have practical sessions once or twice a term depending on their choice of module.

Posters and Presentations

All MPhil students are usually required to make a presentation on their proposed dissertation topic to staff and peers as part of their Research Skills module.


Students receive written feedback on all assessed coursework via the Teaching Administrator. Final marks are made available to students following the final examiners meeting in 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 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 for it and write it up. The topic of the dissertation has to be approved by the Faculty Degree Committee; the dissertation is of maximum 15,000 words (excluding bibliography, tables, figures and appendices) and is due at the end of July; it counts as 50 per cent of the student’s final mark.


Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology are usually required to produce between one and four assessed essays depending on their chosen course of study and the modules they select. The essays are between 3,000 and 4,000 words and are submitted in Michaelmas, Lent and/or Easter terms.

Written examination

Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology may be required to sit in-class tests for some language modules.  For language modules, choice of module is subject to the student’s prior experience in order to ensure that they have the preparation to benefit from the module taken; the course co-ordinator will provide guidance on this.


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 of specified length, and/or an oral presentation (supported by visual aids) to teaching staff and peers.

The assessment of Intermediate Akkadian may include assessed coursework in the form of a philological commentary and a content-based commentary.

The assessment of Advanced Akkadian may include assessed coursework in the form of a philological commentary and cuneiform copy.

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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