Taught course

Archaeological Practice

Birkbeck, University of London · History, Classics and Archaeology

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have achieved a second-class honours BA.

Months of entry


Course content

This MA will introduce you to the major techniques, principal bodies of evidence, and central research themes and concepts deployed in archaeological practice. From this, you will develop a critical understanding of how contemporary archaeologists think, draw and write about material evidence. The programme aims to produce a new kind of professional - one who is theoretically aware but also grounded in the craft of archaeology - and will develop your capacity for interdisciplinary and innovative research in the field, based on critical and integrated study of landscape, architecture and material culture. Context, and an engagement with material and historical conditions, are crucial to this work-based training.

London is key to the history of archaeology in Britain and this programme explores that history, from public demand for archaeological intervention when bomb damage from the Second World War was cleared, to modern developer-funded archaeology. Practice-based teaching will focus on the archives of the Museum of London and the British Museum’s collections. You will further your practical experience on field trips and a tailor-made excavation programme, 'Buried Humanities'. The curriculum of this module is linked directly to the prehistoric past and will extend outwards from the city in order to compare and contrast the detailed accounts of the Thames Valley with the archaeology of the East Anglian fens. You will examine the different types of knowledge of prehistory found in site reports, the regional knowledge found in monographs and the works of synthesis more popular in the academy.

By the end of the programme, you will have developed your own research agenda in dealing with archaeological evidence, and the confidence to read and interpret primary evidence in archives, collections, excavation and the landscape. A crucial concern is the value of archaeology in the world and the kinds of community that participate in its practice, and you will graduate with the ability to implement creative archaeological projects within the communities that now live in the landscapes archaeologists study.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
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