The MA in Archaeology at Kent introduces you to the archaeology of selected periods and regions, through a distinctive programme that relates this to wider spheres of evidence and understanding in archaeology.
Archaeology involves the material study of past human activity across a range of time periods, though a variety of techniques such excavation and artefact examination. This MA provides you with a robust grounding in theories, methods and approaches within contemporary archaeology (covering, for instance, phenomenology and post-processualism) through a core taught module. You can then specialise in selected periods (such as later prehistory or the Roman era) and regions through a range of taught and directed study modules provided by the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies.
The programme gives you the opportunity to engage directly with first-hand archaeological evidence, exploring areas such as the relationship of sites to their wider landscape and cultural setting, processes of continuity and change within the archaeological record, and the interpretation of material culture. The teaching is geared towards students’ interests and career needs where possible and is especially geared to skills acquisition and preparation for PhD study. In the summer, you write a 15,000-word dissertation with advice from one of our experts to demonstrate the skills that you will have gained during your MA.
This is an ideal programme for graduates of history, ancient history, classics or the wider humanities, wanting to gain practical experience in applying their expertise.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, classics was ranked 2nd for research impact and in the top 20 for research intensity, research power, research quality and research output in the UK.
An impressive 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
This programme includes day and longer visits to view sites and material, to undertake practical work, and to attend seminars and lectures at partner institutions such as the other universities in the Transmanche partnership, the Flemish Heritage Institute, University of Ghent and the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
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CL805 - Contemporary Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Issues
The module is designed with training, knowledge enhancement and skills acquisition to the fore. The module begins with an introduction to the origins and development of theoretical perspectives in archaeology (e.g. cultural history, the New Archaeology, Post-Processualism), and assesses the contributions of these approaches. A central question is how we may study and define past society. Artefacts and their value as evidence of the past are then considered within a contemporary intellectual framework. Settlement sites are then examined and in particular approaches to understanding their morphology, elements and their identity as lived environments; spatial approaches are considered here too. Approaches to the archaeology of landscape are in turn examined, this being a dynamic field in contemporary archaeological understanding. How archaeological data is assesses, organized, and published is then examined from a theoretical and methodological angle. Finally, how the various strands of archaeological data can be brought together to assemble a coherent picture of past human life and society are critically examined and reviewed.Read more
CL901 - Practical Archaeology Report
This module consists of supervised research undertaken by the student. The module offers students the timescale, scope, support and opportunity to explore in detail an area or body of evidence of interest to them and to present the results in a format reflecting standards and conventions seen in publications in professional and academic archaeology. Work in the field may include the first hand gathering of data employing professional methods and equipment within a guided framework, with an emphasis on student skills acquisition. Students will develop skills in handling and assessing this evidence and, in turn, presenting it in a manner that mirrors present best vocational practice, with innovatory approaches encouraged where suitable. It is of primary importance that students demonstrate a critical appreciation of the methods, evidence and related issues in the report they submit. The module will allow students to develop a curriculum around their own research and vocational interests and training needs.Read more
CL898 - Rome: The Myth of the Eternal City
The module introduces students to key skills for the study of the mythology of Rome as an eternal city. The focus will be on group work that will investigate how we can gain greater knowledge of key aspects of the creation of myths of the city of Rome and how mythology can be adjusted through reception and incorporation of new ideas, yet proclaiming a continuity with the past. The curriculum is designed to develop students' research skills and the development of their awareness of public engagement with research. The seminars will also focus on the development of blogs as well as the research skills to develop a longer piece of academic writing in the form of an essay. Students will learn new skills ranging from researching bibliographies, writing succinctly, using hyperlinks in blog formats, through to the development of a sustained research project to underpin their essay.Read more
CL807 - Roman Archaeology: Northern Provinces of the Empire from their Iron Age
The module examines the varied, rich and extensive archaeological (and historical) evidence for settlement and social life in the area of the northern provinces of the Roman empire and its near neighbours during the Late Iron Age and Roman eras. The module structure is thematic and explores a range of inter-related topic areas. Particular emphasis is placed on new ideas and approaches. It is expected that there will be site and museum visits related to this module, undertaken in the south-east of England and/or on the near continent.
Topics typically covered would be: the nature of the archaeological record for the era and approaches to its study; material culture and society in the Iron Age: production and consumption; regional patterns and identity in the Iron Age; continuities into the Roman era and the civitates system; the historiography of Roman studies in North West Europe; the archaeology of Roman London; the character and morphology of settlement in the Roman era: towns and cities, smaller centres and the countryside; material culture and society in the Roman period: production and consumption; regional civitas capitals; the archaeology of the Roman era in The Netherlands (Lower Germany); the Roman Saxon-Shore and military society; religion and ritual; society in the later Roman era and the end of urban life; burial evidence and patterns; the archaeologies of people: gender, status, ethnicity and biography.Read more
CL821 - Ancient Greek Science: Astronomy and Medicine
Ancient Greek concepts of 'rational science' were vastly different from modern perceptions and discipline classifications. Its foundation was grounded in philosophical discussions that considered the nature of the cosmos and all that existed within it. This module demonstrates how the subjects were interlinked through a close analysis of the development of ancient astronomy and medicine, from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. It discusses literary, philosophical and archaeological material. The first half of the module will focus on astronomy. The second half of the module will concentrate on medicine and begin with a discussion of the pre-Socratic philosophers introduction of the theory of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water that were present within everything, including the stars and the body. From here students will examine how the theory of the four elements was transformed into the humoural system. Consideration will also be given to how the body and health were influenced by environment and astronomy discussed in the first half of the module.Read more
CL830 - International Heritage, Archaeology and Development
This module will allow students to explore the different aspects of the complex relationships between archaeology, heritage and development. Each week, the lecture will focus on one aspect of this complex nexus. This will include analyses of the debates on whether heritage/archaeology and development are opposite or complementary; critical analyses of the key international actors and their agendas on heritage and development; issues of stakeholders' participations in heritage-led development projects; the concepts of Historic Urban Landscapes and of the limit of acceptable change; the social and economic impacts of heritage-led regeneration (both quantitative and qualitative); and critical analyses of the post-development debate in relation to archaeology and heritage. The student-focused seminars will include presentations by students of key readings, as well as critical analyses and discussions of references related to each lecture.Read more
CL831 - Heritage and Human Rights
This module will allow students to explore the different aspects of the increasingly important relationships between heritage (understood in its broadest sense) and human rights. Each week, the lecture will focus on one aspect of this complex relationships, using existing references as well as the extensive work undertaken by the course convenor on this topic. This will include analyses of the concept of human rights itself, and of human rights based approaches to heritage conservation and management; issues of repatriation and indigenous heritage, rights and heritage in conflict and post-conflict zones as well as museums and the socio-economic rights of minorities.
This module will also provide some introduction to an ethical approach to fieldwork or heritage management through introducing students to anthropological or ethnological methods, including participatory approaches to heritage conservation and management; methods for conducting social impact assessment or rapid ethnographic assessment. The student-focused seminars will include presentations by students of key readings, as well as critical analyses and discussions of references related to each lecture. During the seminar, students will also discuss the preparation of the event which they will be assessed on (e.g. exhibition, reading, presentations, panel discussions, symposium, etc), and any issue with this task will be collectively solved.Read more
CL897 - CL Dissertation
The Dissertation module comprises supervised research undertaken by the student, in the broad area of the history, literary sources and archaeology of the ancient world. A curriculum will be developed by the student around their own particular research interests.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
The programme is assessed by coursework for each of the modules and by the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- introduce you to the archaeology of selected periods and regions, through a distinctive and unique programme, relating this to wider spheres of evidence and understanding in archaeology
- provide you with a robust grounding in theories, methods and approaches within contemporary archaeology (covering, for instance, phenomenology, materiality), examining too areas of controversy and differing expression
- explore a range of types of evidence appropriate to the periods and regions studied.
- establish the relationship of sites to their wider landscape and cultural setting
- identify processes of continuity and change with the archaeological record and to examine explanations for such trends
- confirm the extent of participation in broad European processes through time
- firmly develop your practical archaeological abilities, for instance in handling, characterising, assessing and reporting types of material culture finds (artefacts) and other classes of evidence of the past
- enable you to engage critically with a selected theme or topic within the field of archaeology and history.
- assist you to acquire the critical and organisational skills necessary for successful completion of research for your supervised dissertation and other project work (this work being on an approved topic/s or theme of your choice)
- assist you to develop the necessary range of generic and subject-specific skills – in research, in data handling, in writing, and in the communication of ideas, using both traditional resources and the full range of contemporary IT resources.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the main approaches and methodologies characterising the critical study of archaeological remains in their varied forms within the overall discipline
- previous and current theories in archaeology
- familiarity with the archaeology of selected regions
- examination of site and artefactual remains
- comparative analysis of archaeological remains
- specialised research areas chosen from within the subject area and including critical and or practical study and reporting
- a selected research topic or theme, leading to the successful completion of a dissertation.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- Critical analysis and interpretation of relevant primary and secondary resources of a wide ranging nature
- Critical evaluation of empirical data
- Critical assessment of alternative theories and interpretations
- the ability to construct and defend arguments and conclusions in a coherent manner
- the ability to conduct independent, critical research.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- sensitive and critical evaluation of various categories of archaeological information (primary and secondary) within their historical, cultural, economic and environmental contexts
- the ability to engage with complex cultural processes developing through time and with various outcomes in different areas
- the application of theoretical and cognitive approaches to understanding past human actions in a variety of environments
- the utilisation of the full range of computing and IT skills and resources (word-processing, email, the internet, database searching, data management and manipulation via various software packages, etc)
- develop strengths in practical approaches to handling, processing and presenting a variety of types of evidence from the past.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
- the identification of ‘problem’ areas and the ability to evaluate these and forward solutions
- the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development
- depth and maturity of thought in relation to specific subject-matter of research
- the ability to communicate intelligently and clearly via different media
- the application of classification and analytical skills in collating and categorising data
- coherence and organisation in task management
- the ability to work creatively and flexibly, whether on your own or with others in a group
- the ability to manage your time and resources effectively, especially under pressure (eg in relation to fixed deadlines or within the specific constraints of a class presentation)
- the ability to evaluate one’s own academic and communicative performance, and to learn from the responses and criticisms of your peers and teachers
- the ability to assemble an effective project design and to implement that design successfully.
Our MA programmes include much scope for vocational training, skills acquisition and guided project work, often with use of our extensive facilities. These aspects of our programmes have been praised by external assessors in recent years. Recent graduates have progressed to careers in a wide range of related professional and leadership areas, including national and local museums, teaching and senior roles with archaeological organisations (national government institutions, contracting units and trusts). A large proportion of completing Master’s students have progressed onto PhD study.
About the Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies
Classical & archaeological studies examines the textual and material evidence for a wide cross-section of the ancient world and includes three convergent research and teaching pathways: ancient history, classical literature, and archaeology. Many core areas in the investigation of the ancient world can be studied with us at postgraduate level.
The Department of Classical & Archaeological Studies operates as part of the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL), and there are corresponding opportunities for a high level of interdisciplinary interaction (five modern languages, philosophy, theology and religious studies and comparative literature), in addition to the informal links with staff in the rest of the University researching medieval history, the history of science, architecture and social anthropology. We have good partnerships with high-profile universities and organisations such as the Ghent University, University Lille 3, the Flemish Heritage Institute, UCLA, the Free University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
We offer bursaries to enable students to participate in departmental fieldwork projects covering travel, food and accommodation. Typically, around 30 students each year have been placed on research and training excavations in Britain, Italy (including Ostia, port of Rome) and Greece, relating to sites of Bronze Age Greek (Minoan), Iron Age, Roman, Late Antique and Anglo-Saxon date.
The School has extensive literary holdings and many other facilities to support active research, and the Templeman Library also has excellent holdings in all our areas of research interest. This includes an extensive range of English and international periodicals, as well as specialist collections (the library of A S L Farquharson, specialising in the age of Marcus Aurelius, and generous donations from the libraries of Victor Ehrenberg in ancient social history, Anthony Snodgrass, Richard Reece and Jill Braithwaite in archaeology). We have access to Canterbury Cathedral Library, and to archaeological libraries and collections in Kent, such as the major collection of the Kent Archaeological Society, and first-rate connections with London and continental Europe. Kent is now the home of the Colin Renfrew Archive, a major resource for research on the history of archaeology, archaeological theory, prehistoric Orkney and the Aegean Bronze Age.
The Department has its own specialist technician, Lloyd Bosworth, who is widely experienced and skilled in landscape archaeology, geographic information systems (GIS), digital imaging and laser scanning, as well as geophysical surveying. He offers advice and training in the use of the archaeological equipment and has worked in Belgium, Ostia, Rome and Crete.
The University has recently invested in a range of new archaeological equipment including a Romer laser scanner, portable XRF machinery, resistivity and magnetometer survey machines, GPS and a photographic lab.
The University of Kent’s location is highly convenient for students who need to visit not only the British Library and other specialist libraries in London, but also the major libraries and research centres within Europe.
All postgraduate students in SECL receive support and guidance within their departments and from the Graduate School. Within SECL, in addition to the research culture of your department, our research centres combine overlapping interests to foster interdisciplinary support and dialogue, while the Graduate School provides a Researcher Development Programme to equip you with a full range of skills that will improve your effectiveness as a researcher. Training courses are also offered by the Library and Computing Services, and by the Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (UELT).
Individual training is offered in accordance with a student’s needs. We offer training in Greek and Latin languages at the appropriate level; and specialist skills training in epigraphy, papyrology, palaeography and Egyptology, artefact studies and fieldwork methods. Postgraduates have also gained experience by mounting their own independent seminar programme to discuss work in progress (in addition to taking part in staff/postgraduate research seminars).
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Acta Antiqua; European Journal of Archaeology; Latomus; Hermes; L’études Classiques; Aegyptus; Annual Review of the British School at Rome; American Journal of Archaeology.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in archaeology, classics, Latin, Greek, ancient history or equivalent.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Currently particular areas of interest are:
The history of archaeology; Roman ceramics; the archaeology of the Roman army and frontier; archaeology and gender; classical medicine; Minoan iconography, Mycenaean administration, Mycenaean epigraphy, ritual theory and general Bronze Age Aegean archaeology; archaeoastronomy; catasterism myths; later prehistory in temperate Europe, including the British Isles; the archaeology of the Roman era in Britain and the Western Provinces; Roman artefacts and art; the late post-Roman transition in the West; landscape and settlement studies; the archaeology of the Transmanche region; investigating the Mediterranean city in Late Antiquity (AD 300-650); Late Antiquity cities.
Classical studies, Late Antiquity and Byzantium
Ancient narrative literature, especially the novel; classical literature; Greek palaeography; hagiography; Byzantium; historiography; and gender studies.
Archaic, classical and Hellenistic Greece; late period, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt; the history of the Roman Republic; the life course; roads and the landscape of the Roman Empire; tourism and the classical tradition; the social, economic and financial aspects of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire; Greek and Egyptian papyrology; epigraphy; palaeography; Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, and gender studies.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Anne Alwis: Senior Lecturer in Classical Literature
Late Antiquity and Byzantium; hagiography; gender studies; Greek palaeography.View Profile
Dr Patricia Baker: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
The archaeology of the Roman army and frontier; archaeology and gender; classical medicine.View Profile
Dr Efrosyni Boutsikas: Lecturer in Archaeology
Archaeoastronomy; Greek ritual; religious timekeeping; catasterism myths.View Profile
Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis: Senior Lecturer in Classical and Archaeological Studies
Minoan iconography; Mycenaean administration; ritual theory; general Bronze Age Aegean.View Profile
Dr Csaba La'da: Reader in Ancient History, Papyrology and Egyptology
Late period, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Egypt; archaic, classical and Hellenistic Greece; Greek and Egyptian papyrology, epigraphy and palaeography.View Profile
Dr Sophia Labadi: Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Archaeology
Museums and human rights, world heritage and intangible heritage conventions as well as heritage and development.View Profile
Dr Luke Lavan: Lecturer in Archaeology
Late antique archaeology; the archaeology of late antique cities; visualisation of the ancient world.View Profile
Dr Dunstan Lowe: Lecturer in Classical Studies
Roman poetry, especially Virgil and Ovid.View Profile
Dr David Nightingale: Senior Lecturer in Ancient History
Social, economic and financial aspects of the Roman Republic and Empire.View Profile
Dr Ellen Swift: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
Artefact studies; Roman dress accessories; the late post-Roman transition in the West; Roman art.View Profile
Dr Steven Willis: Senior Lecturer in Archaeology
Britain and Europe in the first millennium BC, the western Roman provinces, later prehistoric pottery and artefacts; samian pottery; the archaeology of the Transmanche area; landscape and maritime studies.View Profile
Dr Rosie Wyles: Lecturer in Classical History and Literature
Research interests include: Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, reception within antiquity and beyond it, and gender.View Profile
Dr Kelli Rudolph: Lecturer in Classical Studies
Ancient philosophy and science, especially issues related to ancient physics, metaphysics and epistemology.View Profile
The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Archaeology - MA at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
General additional costs
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