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Master of Science by Coursework in Archaeological Science

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

  • 2. Candidates for admission must apply to 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 three subsequent vacations, as determined by the course timetable.

  • 4. 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) except where candidates take an option in lieu (see section (c)) one pre-set essay of no more than 8,000 words, the subject and length of which must be submitted for approval to the Chair of Examiners by noon on the Friday of the sixth week of Hilary Term.  Candidates must upload their essay to the University approved online assessment platform by noon on the Monday of first week of Trinity Term. Essays must bear the candidate's examination number but not his or her name, and must include a statement of the number of words.

    • (c) in lieu of one of the three papers described in the Schedule, candidates may, with the permission of the School of Archaeology's Graduate Studies Committee, take one of the options from the MSc in Archaeology or MSc in Classical Archaeology (Schedule B only), to be examined by two pre-set essays, each of no more than 5,000 words. Candidates must upload their essays to the University approved online assessment platform by noon on the Monday of first week of Trinity Term. Candidates taking such an option would be examined on one pre-set essay of no more than 5,000 words on a topic in Archaeological Science in lieu of the requirements laid out in (b) above.

  • 5. Each candidate will be required to submit a dissertation of no more than 16,000 words, (excluding bibliography and/or catalogues), on a research area selected in consultation with the supervisor and approved by a person designated for this purpose by the Chair of Examiners for Archaeological Science. Proposed titles must be submitted for approval to the Chair of Examiners by noon on the Friday of the sixth week of Hilary Term.

  • 6. Candidates must upload their dissertation to the University approved online assessment platform no later than noon on the Friday four weeks and two days before the start of the following Michaelmas Term.

  • With respect to essays and dissertations, only the file submitted via the approved assessment platform constitutes a valid submission; no concomitant hard-copy submission must be submitted for any purpose.  Each submission must be accompanied by a declaration indicating that it is the candidate's own work.

  • 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 if required by the examiners. This may be on one of the candidate's written papers, or dissertation, or both.

  • 9. 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 MSc and, if of a sufficiently high standard, the candidate may be granted permission to supplicate for the degree of MSc.


  • (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.