Taught course

Archaeological Science

University of Cambridge · Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK high 2:1 honours degree.

Students are expected to enter the MPhil in Archaeological Science from a range of backgrounds, including:

  • From undergraduate degrees in archaeology, history, social anthropology, classics and cognate disciplines, students seeking accessible training in the methods and principles involved in the scientific analysis of archaeological evidence
  • From undergraduate degrees in chemistry, biology, physics, geography, geology, materials science and other scientific disciplines, students seeking to apply their scientific background to archaeological research, while learning the broader context, archaeological frameworks and theories that shape this work.
  • Students and professionals from conservation backgrounds who wish to learn the research skills and techniques required to understand the nature and contextualisation of the materials they conserve.

The programme is designed to accommodate flexibly the needs of students with different backgrounds, and the mixture of students from different national, educational and professional backgrounds is a strength of the course.

Months of entry


Course content

This MPhil aims to introduce students to the main theories and research approaches in archaeological science, particularly within the fields of archaeological materials science, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, genetics and isotopic and biomolecular archaeology. The aims include:

  • To provide a wide-ranging and challenging introduction to the theoretical issues involved in archaeological science.
  • To provide an in-depth understanding of approaches to scientific analysis and interpretation in the context of archaeological research.
  • To foster the ability to develop original research questions and to explore them effectively using scientific methods.
  • To provide training relevant to a professional and/or research career in archaeological science.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this MPhil, students should have:

  • Gained a detailed understanding of current theoretical and practical perspectives in archaeological science.
  • Developed their critical faculties in a discussion, debate, and evaluation of alternative interpretations and perspectives on scientific data.
  • Developed transferable skills such as writing, presentation, data analysis and laboratory protocols
  • Carried through a substantial programme of independent research embodied in a dissertation on a topic that demonstrates theoretical understanding and practical competence in science-based archaeological analysis and interpretation.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil
    full time
    11 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details