Taught course


Durham University · Department of Archaeology

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class (2:1) degree (GPA 3.3.) or equivalent in Archaeology, Anthropology, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, or related disciplines. Relevant working experience will also be considered. One satisfactory reference is required.

Months of entry


Course content

Our unique MSc in Bioarchaeology with its pathways in biomolecular archaeology and environmental archaeology provides an excellent academic opportunity for you to develop your fascination with the life of humans in the past through the study of biological materials found during archaeological activity.

You will join an exciting course that reflects the fast-paced world of bioarchaeology, where knowledge and understanding are constantly expanding as a result of new breakthroughs and discoveries. You will have the opportunity to work with the latest developments in archaeological science including human bioarchaeology and palaeopathology, stable isotope mass spectrometry, ancient DNA and environmental archaeology.

The course offers a choice of pathways that will be tailored to your interests. You can choose to specialise in a single branch of bioarchaeology, or to combine subjects to gain a broader overview of this rapidly changing field. Whichever pathway you choose, you will benefit from high quality training in analytical, research and communication skills.

The pathways are MSc Bioarchaeology, which provides a broad overview of bioarchaeology, MSc Bioarchaeology (Biomolecular Archaeology), which focuses on the study of stable isotopes and DNA extracted from biological materials and MSc Bioarchaeology (Environmental Archaeology) focusing on the study of animal bones, plant remains and soils from archaeological contexts.

You will carry out project and dissertation work where you will have the opportunity to play a key role in the creation and application of cutting-edge analytical methods to understand more about human life and environment in the past. The Department is not only at the forefront of creating globally significant innovative solutions in the application of biosciences to archaeological research but is also able to provide you with a supportive learning environment where your bioarchaeological ambitions can flourish.

Core modules

Research and Study Skills in Archaeological Science provides a high level of understanding of research methods, study and presentation skills in archaeological science, covering areas such as research ethics, writing and presentation skills, research designs and research application, computing and statistics.

Topics in Archaeological Science equips you with the skills to explore and debate the current key topics and research themes in archaeology and to critically assess the scientific methods used and also facilitate the development of your original thinking to identify the gaps in knowledge and future research directions. You will find the emphasis will be placed on the need to critically evaluate the application, potential and limitations of a range of techniques and the importance of considering the archaeological context and question.

The Dissertation allows you to develop and demonstrate a range of skills learnt as part of the MSc in Bioarchaeology as well as investigate in depth your approved dissertation topic through library-based, practical, laboratory and/or field techniques. You will also produce a research design for an independent piece of work, perform the proposed work, analyse and present the evidence and provide clear arguments and conclusions.

The remaining two modules are chosen from options, which have previously included:

  • Environmental Archaeology
  • Osteoprofiling
  • Isotopic and Biomolecular Archaeology
  • Practical Guided Study
  • Research Topics in Archaeology
  • Current Themes in Human Bioarchaeology

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

All self-financing overseas students are required to pay a £1,000 tuition fee deposit if an offer from the Department of Archaeology is accepted. The tuition fee deposit is paid before the University issues a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number, which is required in order to apply for a visa.

Fees and funding

UK students
£11,600.00 per year
International students
£24,900.00 per year

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    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