MSc in Archaeological Science
The MSc in Archaeological Science was created to develop your knowledge of and expertise in the exciting new scientific techniques that can be used to investigate the human past. This course focuses on the analysis of archaeological organic remains of humans, animals and plants, and will provide you with a broad theoretical and practical understanding of numerous current issues and techniques. In addition, you will have the ability an opportunity to specialise in your area of interest through the modules you choose and your original research dissertation on zooarchaeology, palaeobotany, isotopic analysis, archaeometry, ancient DNA, or any other sicence-based archaeological topic.
This programme has been designed to give you maximum access to the breadth and depth of our substantial research experience in this subject, utilising our expertise in ancient DNA, isotopes, luminescence dating, bones, and animal and environmental archaeology. In our department you can study archaeological science in as broad or as specialised a way as you wish, and this degree will prepare you for work in a laboratory, in a commercial archaeology unit, or for further study towards a PhD.
Find out more about entry requirements, mode of study, duration of the course, and tuition fees here. (Note: this link will direct you to the University's central course tool. Use the link provided to return to the Department of Archaeology homepage.)
Find out more about funding your programme here.
How will I be taught?
The course is delivered via lectures (including external lecturers), laboratory sessions, and seminars. Your progress will be assessed through a range of assignments including essays, practical tests, statistical and technical reports, poster presentations, and non-technical articles. You will take four modules and produce a dissertation.
What will I be studying?
You will take two compulsory taught modules:
- Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science
- Topics in Archaeological Science
You will be able to choose two elective modules from this list:
- Themes in Palaeopathology
- Plants and People
- Animals and People
- Isotopic and Molecular Archaeology
- Practical Guided Study
Dissertation: The dissertation (15,000 words) allows you to undertake a defined laboratory or literature based research project in your field of interest, assisted by an academic supervisor.
Who will teach me?
Dr. Greger Larson (Course Convenor) is a Reader and is primarily interested in the pattern and process of animal domestication and the use of domestic animals as proxies to reconstruct human migration patterns. His expertise lies in extracting and sequencing DNA from ancient remains. He heads the Durham Evolution and Ancient DNA (DEAD) lab and has authored >30 articles that have appeared in a wide range of academic journals.
Professor Ian Bailiff pioneered the development and application of luminescence dating techniques in which he is now an internationally acknowledged expert. He heads the Durham luminescence dating laboratory that has the capability to support both dating and methodological investigation, and his research has been primarily focused on the study of the luminescence properties of minerals and their application to radiogenic techniques of dating. Currently the primary materials of interest are sediments from prehistoric sites and ceramic materials from medieval buildings and structures. Professor Bailiff is the Joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Radiation Measurements.
Dr. Michael Church is an environmental archaeologist and archaeobotanist whose key research theme is the investigation of the interaction between humans and the environment in the North Atlantic islands (including Atlantic Scottish islands, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland). His focus is on reconstructing and analyzing trajectories of environmental change, the impact of human settlement on palaeoenvironments, palaeoeconomies in different island settings and cultural adjustments to marginality. Dr Church's interdisciplinary research is published in the literature of several disciplines including archaeology, geography, ecology and environmental science.
Dr. Becky Gowland is a bioarchaeologist whose key research interests are in health, gender and age identity in Roman and Anglo-Saxon England. The integration of skeletal evidence with social theories of identity has been the theme of much of her research and this was the subject of her co-edited book The Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains. Dr Gowland has published widely on techniques of estimating age-at-death, social perceptions of childhood and the elderly in the past, and health in the Roman world. Current research includes childhood health in Roman London, morbidity and mortality in the Anglo-Saxon fenlands, the taphonomic effects of marine submersion on human bone, and social perceptions of disability in early Anglo-Saxon England.
Dr. Andrew Millard read chemistry at Oxford where he also undertook doctoral and postdoctoral research on uranium series dating of bone and bone diagenesis. He has expertise in isotope analysis, dating and statistics in archaeology. He is well-known for his applications of Bayesian statistics in archaeology, particularly for the integration of multiple dating techniques on Pleistocene sites. His dating research has encompassed materials from half-a-million- years ago to the 16th century. He investigates diet and migration in past societies, from the Neolithic to the 19th century, combining multiple isotope systems and integrating the geochemical results with archaeological and historical interpretations.
Dr. Janet Montgomery main research interests are in the principles and application of radiogenic isotope analysis to provenance studies, environmental variation and human and animal mobility and diet. Her NERC funded doctoral research was the first study to apply lead and strontium isotope analysis to British archaeological burials. This was followed by a NERC fellowship investigating the use of teeth as geochemical archives. Currently, Dr. Montgomery's research projects range from the Neolithic to the 19thcentury as well as the investigation of modern analogues to assist with interpretations of data from ancient humans and animals. She has strong collaborative research links with the British Geological Survey and publishes her research in the international literature of several disciplines including geochemistry, geology, environmental science, biology, anthropology and archaeology.
Professor Charlotte Roberts has more than 20 years of research experience in bioarchaeology. She has published widely in the field, especially in palaeopathology, and together with Keith Manchester wrote the key textbook The Archaeology of Disease (3rd edition, August 2005). Other senior authored books (2003) are Health and Disease in Britain, Prehistory to the Present Day and The Bioarchaeology of Tuberculosis: a global perspective on a re-emerging disease and her recent book “Human remains in Archaeology – A handbook (2009)”.
Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy’s main research focus is in zooarchaeology and archaeobotany. He is an internationally renowned expert on pig domestication and husbandry and has published widely on the topic. He pioneered the use of Mesolithic animal bones to reconstruct seasonal mobility of hunter-gatherers, leading to the application of anthropological theory to the archaeological record. A further research interest is the use of Neolithic and later animal bones to reconstruct practices of animal husbandry and consumption and the use of plant macrofossils to reconstruct agricultural economies and change, from Scandinavia to Nubia. In addition to environmental archaeology, Professor Rowley-Conwy's considerable knowledge of the history of the development of archaeology as a scientific discipline has recently been culminated in a book entitled: From Genesis to prehistory: the archaeological Three Age System and its contested reception in Denmark, Britain and Ireland.
What is my next step?
For further information on applying for the MSc in Archaeological Science, please visit How to Apply.
All Home/EU applicants offered a place on the MSc in Archaeological Science course will be asked to pay a £500 deposit by 1 April 2013. For offers made by the Department after 1 April 2013, each applicant will have 4 weeks to pay the £500 deposit from the official offer letter. This £500 deposit will be deducted from the first instalment of fees after starting the course in September 2013. Please note, that this £500 deposit will only be refunded in the event of the applicant not meeting their conditions set out in the official offer letter.
All Overseas applicants offered a place on the MSc in Archaeological Science course will be asked to pay a £1000 deposit no later than 6 weeks following any official offer emailed letter. Please note, that this £1000 deposit will only be refunded in the event of the applicant failing to meet their conditions set out in the official offer letter or refusal of a visa for entry to the UK. Please ensure that you read this information concerning the deposit.
This £1000 deposit will be deducted from the first instalment of fees after starting the course in September 2013.
The expertise and friendliness of the staff combined with the scientific facilities and services offered by the Department made my MSc in Archaeology a real pleasure to study.
Constant support throughout my degree and the weekly Department seminars featuring guest speakers from across the world are but two examples of what the department offers.
In addition, the lovely historical scenery of Durham and the numerous opportunities for students to get involved in various activities and sports make Durham the ideal place to study.Ophelie Lebrasseur, Current Research Post-Graduate Student