Master of Studies in Archaeological Science

Differences from 2014/15 to 2019/20

The final intake to the Master of Studies in Archaeological Science was in Michaelmas term 2019; no further cohorts will begin this course and the course will be discontinued at the end of the 2019/20 academic year. 

  • 1. Within the Division of Social Sciences, the course shall be administered by the Committee for the School of Archaeology. The regulations made are as follows:

  • 2. Candidates for admission must apply to the Committee for the School of Archaeology.

  • 3. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Archaeological Science for at least three terms and for a substantial part of the first two subsequent vacations, as determined by the course timetable.

  • 4. The registration of candidates will lapse at the end of Trinity Term in the academic year of their admission, unless it shall have been extended by the committee.

  • 5. The written examination shall consist of:

    • (a) three papers on the syllabus described in the Schedule, to be taken as written examinations in the second week of Trinity Term, and

    • (b) either one pre-set essay of approximately 10,000 words, or two pre-set essays of approximately 5,000 words each. Thethe subject and length of each essay which must be approvedsubmitted byfor the examiners before the end of Michaelmas Full Term. Two copies of each essay must be deliveredapproval to the ExaminationChair Schoolsof Examiners by noon on the Friday of the sixth week of Hilary Term.  Candidates must upload their essay to the Assignments section of the course WebLearn site by noon on the Monday of first week of Trinity Term. 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, 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), to be examined by two pre-set essays, each of approximately 5,000 words. Candidates taking such an option would only be examined on one pre-set essay of approximately 5,000 words on a topic in Archaeological Science in lieu of the requirements laid out in b) above.

  • 6. Each candidate will be required to submit a report of approximately 5,000 words, on a practical project selected in consultation with the supervisor and approved by the Chair Committeeof Examiners for Archaeological Science. Proposed titles must be submitted for approval to the SchoolChair of ArchaeologyExaminers by noon on the Friday of the sixth week of Hilary Term.

  • 7. ThreeCandidates typewrittenmust copiesupload the report of their practical project to the Assignments section of the reportcourse onWebLearn thesite practical project must be sent, notno later than noon on the Friday of ninth week of the Trinity Term in the year in which the examination is taken,.

  • With respect to essays and practical project reports, only the Mfile submitted via WebLearn constitutes a valid submission;  no concomitant hard-copy submission must be submitted for any purpose.St.  ExaminersEach (Archaeologicalsubmission Science),must c/obe Examinationaccompanied Schools,by Higha Street,declaration Oxfordindicating that it is the candidate's own work.

  • 8. The examiners may require to see the records of practical work carried out during the first two terms of the course.

  • 9. Candidates must present themselves for an oral examination as if required by the examiners. This may be on the candidate's written papers, or practical work, or both.

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

  • 11. In the case of failure in just one part of the examination, 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.


  • (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 to analysis to different material types-stone, ceramics, vitreous materials, and metals; provenance of raw materials; case studies of application to archaeological problems.