MSc Archaeology


RAU Swindon


1 year (full time) or 2+ years (part time)

Academic Year

25 September 2023 to 24 May 2024

Archaeology is not only the study of the past, it is the study of ourselves. Archaeology feeds into current political debates around identity, how we feel about our past, and who we want to be. Large infrastructure projects also ensure it is a profession in increasing demand. From site assistants, to managers, finds specialists and consultants, archaeology is a rewarding and challenging career, requiring a wide and varied range of skills and knowledge.

Course overview

The RAU has been at the forefront of land-based education for more than 180 years, and to study archaeology here is a natural choice. The programme is taught in the Cultural Heritage Institute, the RAU’s Swindon campus and the ‘heritage’ capital of England, home to the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic England. It provides unparalleled opportunities to work with key heritage agencies and to gain professional insights.

The MSc in Archaeology is designed to give learners a broad and thorough grounding in the challenging and fast-paced archaeology sector. It will equip you with the wider contextual and practical skills to allow you to engage analytically with a variety of archaeological sites and materials. As the course progresses, you will be able to follow your developing interests and tailor the direction of your assessed learning to pursue a variety of archaeology careers, from finds specialist to standing buildings archaeologist, from landscape characterisation to geophysics practitioner. This MSc provides a more flexible pathway into archaeology, ideal for those who have a particular specialism or area of interest they would like to build upon, or those who wish to gain a broad range of experiences across the sector.

*Subject to validation

Course content

This programme has specifically been designed to meet the needs of postgraduate learners many of whom may be combining study with work and/or caring or other responsibilities. Teaching is designed to be fully flexible, to allow full participation for both part-time and full-time students.

** Course details are subject to validation **

All sessions are offered in a blended format and you can choose whether to attend any session in-person or to participate remotely, as best suits your needs. All sessions, including practical workshops and (where possible) field trips, are recorded live and made immediately available for viewing to support those who prefer to access the sessions asynchronously.

Our sessions are built around exercises to support and scaffold the learning process, and to provide valuable opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. Material is taught in workshop format combining formal elements, such as lectures, with more hands-on exploratory or consolidatory exercises, for example discussions, ‘live’ group research to explore or apply a particular concept, group-critique sessions, supported writing exercises, and problem-based learning.

Course structure

The programme consists of seven taught modules and a dissertation project. 

The taught modules include three which are a compulsory core and four selected from a further four options. Assessments are very varied but all involve different forms of course work.

In addition to the taught modules you will produce an academic dissertation focusing on a particular research topic of interest to you. Your dissertation allows you to showcase the skills acquired and can provide springboard to further research or employment.


Timetables are normally available one month before registration. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week. Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and societies activities.


  • Debates in Archaeology
  • Evacuation and Post Excavation
  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Heritage Interpretation
  • Managing and Sustaining the Historical Environment
  • Understanding Historic Buildings and Landscapes
  • Practical Conservation, Regeneration and Place Shaping
  • Dissertation

* Optional additions to the course will incur additional charges

Disclaimer information

The University has established various rules and regulations that you must agree to and follow if you accept an offer to study with us. View our full disclaimer notice.

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Careers and graduate destinations

This programme will help learners develop an in-depth and applied understanding of archaeological practice enabling graduates to pursue a wide range of careers in the sector.

On completion of the course you will be able to work in commercial archaeology at any of the numerous commercial units, built environment management, planning, regeneration projects, heritage organisations such as Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust, heritage site interpretation archaeological outreach and education, or as self-employed archaeology consultants.

It also provides an excellent grounding for further academic study, for example at PhD level.

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Entry requirements

An Undergraduate Honours Degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university or overseas equivalent, or a professional qualification and/or experience considered to be equivalent to the above. For information on international qualifications, please, see our country specific pages. For countries not listed please contact

First degree subject areas: Archaeology, Heritage, History, Geography, Sciences, Land Management.

We welcome applications from applicants with non-standard qualifications who are able to demonstrate knowledge, experience and skills developed in the workplace or elsewhere and which are relevant to the programme of study. Applicants will need to use their personal statement to provide further details supported by a CV. All non-standard applications will be considered by the Programme Manager on a case-by-case basis and applicants can expect that an interview may be required as part of the admissions process.

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our English language requirements for the level of study. For postgraduate taught programmes this is IELTS Academic min. overall 6.5 with no element below 5.5 (or equivalent). English language tests usually have a validity of 2 years from the date the test is taken.

Offers will typically be made in line with the academic requirements set out above. Offers can be conditional or unconditional. An unconditional offer will be made to applicants who have already met the conditions and provided evidence that conditions have been met. Where academic or language requirements have not yet been fulfilled, applicants will receive a conditional offer stating the requirements that must be met. 

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Tuition fees cover the cost of a student’s academic studies. This usually includes teaching costs, registration and examination fees (not repeat or trailing module fees, or dissertation extensions).

2023-24 Applicants

For the academic year 2023-24 the tuition fees for this course are:  

  UK Overseas/EU
Full-time £9,950 per year £16,400 per year
Part-time Fees are calculated on a pro-rata basis depending on the number of modules taken. Please refer to Tuition Fees webpage Fees are calculated on a pro-rata basis depending on the number of modules taken. Please refer to Tuition Fees webpage

Please note: International students can study on a part-time basis only if they are in the UK with a different type of visa (other than Student Visa/Tier 4 General) that allows them to undertake part-time study and their visa does not expire prior to the end date of the proposed course of study.

There are no additional fees for any activity conducted during the teaching days. Expenses (travel and admission) incurred during self-directed visits will however fall to the student – all activities are structured so they can be undertaken at any heritage location near to the student and either free or at minimum cost.

Please contact before you apply to confirm your eligibility.

Tuition fees may be subject to an inflationary increase each year as set out in our Access and Participation Plan 2019/20.

For full details, please visit the fees and funding webpage.



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Ready to take the plunge? Apply now

Applications to study for postgraduate degrees need to be made directly through the University using the online application form via the website.

Alternatively, if you are unable access the online form you can call Admissions on 01285 889912, or email

We recommend applicants keep a copy of the completed form for their records.

Application deadline:

EU and overseas applicants must submit their application the latest by 17 July
UK applicants should aim to submit their applications the latest by 24 August

Results deadline:

EU and overseas applicants will need to meet their conditions by 1 August.
UK applicants will need to meet their conditions by 31 August
If you are applying for a 2023 Chevening Scholarship you can submit your scholarship application prior to receiving a course offer. Further details can be found on the application timeline and eligibility criteria sections on the Chevening website.

Applicants will be notified via email once a decision has been made and decision letters will be emailed to you. If there is a deadline by which applicants must accept an offer of admission or pay a deposit, this will be stated in the offer letter.

Requests to defer the year of entry will be considered only when an applicant holds an Unconditional offer and need to be submitted in writing to the admissions team. We cannot guarantee that requests will be granted. Decisions on deferral requests are considered at the end of August. If the deferral request is granted applicants will receive a new offer letter with tuition fees which are applicable to their year of entry, at the opening of the next admissions cycle.