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Archaeology (MPhil / PhD)

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 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. Our research areas include: Early and Later Prehistory, Classical Greek, Hellenistic and Roman Republican archaeology; Roman provincial archaeology; and late antique and early medieval archaeology, with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean and western Indian Ocean. Key specialisms include: archaeology of human evolution, archaeology of prehistoric architecture, archaeology of urban settlement, archaeology of cult and ritual, death and burial, port archaeology, social archaeology, archaeology and photography, attitudes to the past, post-colonialism and archaeology, and interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary studies in history and archaeology.

A research degree offers you the opportunity to acquire a highly advanced set of conceptual skills developed in the pursuit of new knowledge, which can be applied within or beyond an academic or scholarly context. Research training in any academic discipline helps to channel creativity into critical innovatory reasoning. The legitimate authority of original, independent research depends upon persuasive analytical arguments supported by critically evaluated evidence.

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

This course is also available for distance learning, which makes it ideal if your work, family or personal commitments make coming into Birkbeck difficult, if you are living in another country, or if you live near an archive, museum or site that is central to your research. You can conduct all of your supervisions via Skype or other virtual meeting software. You will have to visit the main Birkbeck campus in Bloomsbury, central London at the end of your first year (full-time students) or your second year (part-time students), during MPhil/PhD Induction Week. You will also need to visit London for your upgrade from MPhil and to present a paper (these may be scheduled to coincide), and you will also usually need to be present in London for your PhD viva, at the end of your programme.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Our Department is located close to the British Museum, the British Library, and other relevant centres of research.
  • This programme is also available via distance learning, allowing you to study outside London.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A good degree in ancient history, archaeology, classical studies, classics, history or a related discipline. Students applying for the MPhil/PhD by distance learning will need a distinction at MA level (or equivalent) in history, classics, or archaeology.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests and at least 7.0 in writing.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees

    Fees(2019/20)

    Part-time home/EU students: £2296 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4327 pa
    Part-time international students: £6375 pa
    Full-time international students: £12625 pa

    Please note: the tuition fee indicated here is for 2019/20. The tuition fee for 2020/21 is subject to an inflationary increase.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    Named in memory of Birkbeck’s former President, and one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, the Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers financial assistance for research expenses (including travel, accommodation, conference fees and particular training needs) to doctoral students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology.

    Read more about other funding opportunities for research students within the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. Find out about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck (including the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy).

     

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    We are located just five minutes' walk from the British Museum and 10 minutes from the British Library.

    Other nearby specialist centres of research include the Institute of Archaeology, the Institute of Classical Studies and the Institute of Historical Research, all of which offer regular seminars on research areas covered by the Department.

    Study resources include a regular work-in-progress seminar for research students and staff, and various courses on ancillary skills, including how to read medieval and early modern documents, how to locate sources in various fields, languages and computing. The Department also offers PhD thesis-writing workshops and methodological masterclasses, in which historians discuss how they produce their work and overcome particular challenges. Increasingly Birkbeck is funding student-organised conferences and sponsoring special courses that teach non-English languages for reading and research. Research students also have access to events offered by the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, which includes UCL, King’s College London, LSE and SOAS, among others.

    Besides over 30 regular research seminars at the Institute of Historical Research, there are also numerous specialist lectures and talks at neighbouring institutions during term-time.

    Student-run website Birkbeck History Research Students' Forum contains information about conferences and events, job opportunities, etc.

    Through our international links, it is now possible for Birkbeck PhD Archaeology students to visit the following partner institutions: Columbia University, USA; Queen's University, Canada; Università di Pisa, University of Verona and European University Institute (EUI), Florence, Italy (one-term exchange). Research students from these institutions may also spend six months studying at Birkbeck.

    Read about Birkbeck research that crosses disciplines and focuses on pressing questions within the social sciences and humanities.

    Find out more about our vibrant research culture.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students

    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Draft a research proposal. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal.

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress.

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply, and start studying, at any time during the year.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A crucial factor when applying for postgraduate study in archaeology is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

    For details of other staff working in related areas, see the MPhil/PhD History.