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Course options

  • Qualification

    MSc - Master of Science

  • Location

    Royal Agricultural University

  • Study mode

    Full time

  • Start date


  • Duration

    1 year

Course summary

The Archaeology of the Historical period covers some of the most significant global changes affecting humankind including the rise of the maritime world empires, the industrial revolution and the development of mass conflict.

Course overview

This MSc in Historical Archaeology explores the period from c.1500 to 2000 and offers an exciting research-informed programme that critically considers contemporary issues, challenges and developments. It will provide you with a robust philosophical, theoretical and ethical framework for exploring the remains of the recent past. You will gain a solid grounding in an increasingly coherent and confident discipline which is international in perspective and reach.

The programme begins with a short field course which will introduce to you the core theory, practice and controversies of historical archaeology through the preliminary investigation of an historic environment. It is also a great opportunity to connect with your fellow students and the lead tutors. The programme then uses a series of detailed case studies to look at how archaeology can throw light on the emergence of the modern world system in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Far East and North America.

The course goes on to explore the analysis and interpretation of the remains of the recent past at three scales – the artefact, the building and the landscape. Students then apply these principles to, two specific areas of historic archaeology selected from; The Archaeology of Pioneer Colonies The Archaeology of the First & Second World Wars and The Archaeology of Industry.

Learning is underpinned throughout by engagement with real objects, sites and landscapes coupled to the skills and tools needed to explore and evaluate the material remains of the modern period. A focus on current theoretical and professional issues in the design and management of historic environment research provides the foundations and frameworks for the original research undertaken in the dissertation.

Through the programme you will prepare for, or further develop, a career or further research in historical archaeology through reflective practice, the growth of intellectual skills and an ethos of life-long learning. You will be able to demonstrate self-direction, adaptability, initiative and originality alongside accountability, integrity and ethical judgement.


This programme can be taken full-time in one year, part-time in two years or by credit accumulation over a maximum period of four years. Our aim is to provide very flexible learning that can be integrated into busy working lives.

The programme is delivered by blended learning using intensive tuition days interspersed with guided and independent online learning with group-work, seminars, tutorials and mentoring.

Our approach to learning is hands-on and collaborative; we encourage and enable you to contribute to knowledge generation. The goal is to grow confidence and support your transition to a professional role or further research.

The Programme Tutors are all heritage professionals with considerable experience in Historical Archaeology and have specialist interests in the archaeology of colonialism, conflict and industry. Students may also have opportunity to undertake dissertation research with our Professional Fellows who are embedded in historic environment organisations.


Career prospects include:

  • Archaeological, heritage & environmental consultancy
  • Heritage interpretation consultancy
  • Governmental heritage agencies such as Historic England, Historic Scotland and Cadw
  • Charitable trusts such as the National Trust, English Heritage and the Canal & River Trust
  • Heritage tourism
  • Teaching and education

Tuition fees

Students living in United States
(international fees)

£ 13,150per year

Tuition fees shown are for indicative purposes and may vary. Please check with the institution for most up to date details.

University information

Royal Agricultural University

  • University League Table


  • Campus address

    Royal Agricultural University, Stroud Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6JS, England

Suggested courses

SOAS University of London

MA History of Art and Archaeology

SOAS University of London

University league table


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