Master of Science by Coursework in Archaeological Science

Differences from 2015/16 to 2023/24

  • 1. WithinThe the Division of Social Sciences, the courseprogramme shall be administered byunder the supervision of the Graduate Studies Committee forof the School of Archaeology. The regulations made are as follows:

  • 2.  Each candidate will be Candidates for admission must applyrequired to the Committee for the School of Archaeology.

  • 3. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Archaeological Science for at least three terms andfull-time.  

  • 3. forCandidates awill substantialcomplete parttwo of the following three subsequent vacationsmodules, aseach determinedassessed by the course timetable.

  • 4. The written examination shallin consistearly ofTrinity term:

    • (ai) Principles and practice of scientific dating

    • (ii) threeBio-archaeology
    • (iii) papersMaterials onanalysis and the syllabus described in the Schedule, to be taken in the second weekstudy of Trinitytechnological Term, and

  • (b)4. Candidates will complete either: 

    • (a) oneOne pre-set essay as set out in the Course Handbook of approximately  10no more than 8,000 words by noon on Tuesday of week 0 of Trinity term AND the third module listed in clause 3, assessed by written examination in early Trinity term; or 
    • (b) One pre-set essay as set out in the Course Handbook of no more than 4,000 words by noon on Tuesday of week 0 of Trinity term AND submit two pre-set essays (each of approximatelyno more than 5,000 words) eachas set out in the Course Handbook, by noon on Tuesday of week 0 of Trinity term on either: 
      • (i) a module offered and available from List B in any subject stream of the MSc in Archaeology, or
      • (ii) a module offered and available from Schedule C of the MSt in Classical Archaeology.
  • 5.  Candidates will complete a dissertation of no more than 16,000 words on a topic agreed with their supervisor. The subject and length of each  essaydissertation must be approved by the examiners before the end of Michaelmas Full Term. Two copies of each essay must be delivered to the Examination Schoolssubmitted by noon on the Friday  of first weekTuesday of Trinity TermSeptember. Essays must be typed or printed, must bear the candidate's examination number but not his or her name, and must include a statement of the number of words. Any illustrations must be included in both copies.

  • (c) in lieu of one of the three papers described in the Schedule, and the extended essay(s), candidates may, with the permission of the School of Archaeology Committee for Graduate Studies,  take one of the options from the M.St in Archaeology or M.St in Classical Archaeology (Schedule B only). Candidates taking such an option would only be examined on one pre-set essay of approximately 5,000 words on Archaeological Science in lieu of the requirements laid on in b) above.

  • 5. Each candidate will be required to submit a dissertation of approximately 15,000 to 20,000 words on a research area selected in consultation with the supervisor and approved by a person designated for this purpose by the Committee for the School of Archaeology. 

  • 6. ThreeAll typewrittenessays copies ofand the dissertation must be sent,submitted notusing laterthe thanUniveristy noonapproved online submission system. Technical information on the Fridayrequirements fourfor weeksonline andsubmissions twois daysprovided beforein the startCourse of the following Michaelmas Term, to the MHandbook.Sc. Examiners (Archaeological Science), c/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford. The examiners will retain one copy of the dissertation of each candidate for the departmental library.

  • 7. The examiners may require to see the records of practical work carried out during the course.

  • 8. Candidates must present themselves for an oral examination as  if required by the examiners. This may be on the candidate's written paper, or dissertation, or both.

  • 9.  The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in the whole examination.

  • 10. In the case of failure in just one part of the examination (written papers, extended essay(s), dissertation), the candidate will be permitted to retake that part of the examination on one further occasion, not later than one year after the initial attempt. Written papers would be retaken the following year. Pass or failure in the written papers will be taken as an average of all written papers and in the case of failure all written papers must be retaken. If the candidate passes all parts of the examination except the dissertation, the dissertation may be considered as a practical report as defined in the schedule for the M.St and, if of a sufficiently high standard, the candidate may be granted permission to supplicate for the degree of M.St.

  • Schedule

    • (i) Principles and practice of scientific dating

      The principles of scientific dating methods including radiocarbon, luminescence, uranium series and dendro-chronology. The practical aspects of these methods and the problems encountered in their application. The statistical analysis of chronological information in the study of archaeological sites and cultures.

    • (ii) Bio-archaeology

      Scientific methods for the study of biological remains from archaeological sites; introduction to the analysis of plant and faunal remains including indicators of disease and artefactual analysis; theoretical and practical aspects of quantitative methods for diet reconstruction by isotopic analysis; introduction to ancient DNA studies; residue analysis.

    • (iii) Materials analysis and the study of technological change

      Introduction to the history of technology; theoretical and practical aspects of materials analysis methods—SEM, microprobe, TIMS, ICP, ICP-MS, XRF, XRD, PIXE, FTIR, and NAA; application of analysis to different material types—stone, ceramics, vitreous materials and metals; provenance of raw materials; case studies of application to archaeological problems.