Archaeological Practice (MA)

Year of entry

2017

Start date

October 2017

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved
Applications for this course will open in September

Duration

One year full-time or two years part-time

Attendance

One to two evenings a week, October to June

Other entry years for this course

2018

This Master's degree in archaeology 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 bridges the perceived divide between theory and practice in archaeological fieldwork and cultural resource management and aims to produce a new kind of professional: one who is theoretically aware but also grounded in the craft of archaeology. In doing so, the programme will develop your capacity for interdisciplinary and innovative research in the field, based on a more critical and integrated study of landscape, architecture and material culture. Context, and an engagement with material and historical conditions, is 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 learning through practical experience on field trips and a tailor-made Birkbeck 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. You will have confidence in your skills of reading and interpreting primary evidence, allowing you to break open the materials in archives, collections, excavation and the landscape. A crucial concern on this programme 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.

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Highlights

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 13th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2016-17 World University Subject Rankings. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • This Master’s degree makes extensive use of archaeological sites, monuments and resources in London and southern England. You will become acquainted with the rich archaeological resources contained in the archives and collections of the Museum of London and the British Museum. We are located five minutes' walk from the British Museum and the British Library, while the Museum of London is easily reachable. Other nearby specialist centres of research include the Institute of Archaeology, which has an internationally renowned library collection and runs seminars you can attend.
  • Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching.
  • The Department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
  • Birkbeck Library has an extensive archaeology collection, including the major specialist journals, and access to online materials.
  • The Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers a full fee-waiver for Home, EU and Overseas Master’s students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology (part-time awards are pro-rata).
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Course structure

The compulsory module taken in the first year familiarises you with the principal themes and concepts of current research in archaeology practice, and addresses the perceived divide between theory and practice in archaeological fieldwork and cultural resource management. The module will develop your capacity for interdisciplinary and innovative research in the field, based on a more critical and integrated study of landscape, architecture and material culture.

You study three option modules (two modules in your first year and one in your second) from a diverse range of subjects.

Not all modules are available each year. 

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You will also have a chance to participate in the week-long Birkbeck Field School, offering intensive fieldwork experience.

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