MA Cultural Materials


This programme provides the choice of three pathways to explore archaeological materials, artefacts and technology; experimental archaeology, analysis of archaeological materials, or material culture studies.

Each pathway provides a different emphasis on the study of material artefacts found in the archaeological record in order to explore craft production, use and trade in ancient and historic societies; this is reflected in the core modules for each. Students may also choose from a variety of modules which engage with theory, ethnographic case studies and experimental and analytical approaches to material culture or to historic periods of interest.

Teaching is through lectures, seminars, presentations, and practical work in the field and laboratory, providing students with the necessary research and vocational skills to work with archaeological material. In the final semester students can specialise and work on a novel project on a particular aspect of material culture for their dissertation.

Those on the MA Material Culture Studies stream can opt to undertake a placement, working alongside practitioners in a professional setting, and get consolidated hands on experience in a subject/technique/form of material culture of particular interest to them.

Student and graduate profiles

Masters student research in Cultural Materials

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Students investigating artefacts

Experimental Archaeology

Duration One year full-time or two years part-time.
Semesters The teaching component of the programme will commence late September and is based on semesters (Autumn/Spring). Semester dates Over the summer you will undertake your independent research in consultation with an academic supervisor. Part-time students will commence this aspect of the programme in the summer of their second year.
Qualification This programme is offered as a MA (180 credits), Diploma (120 credits) or a Certificate (60 credits).
Assessment Typical forms of assessment include essays, presentations and completion of a research-led dissertation*.

Information relates to 2019-20 academic year: The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

The programme has been created to work as three specialist streams, your preferred option will be discussed during your induction week when you elect your modules.

MA Cultural Materials (Materials and Technological Analysis)

You will take:

And modules to the value of 45 credits from the Department of Archaeology and from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

MA Cultural Materials (Experimental Archaeology)

You will take:

And modules to the value of 45 credits from the Department of Archaeology and from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

MA Cultural Materials (Material Culture Studies)

You will take:

And one from these two:

And one from this group:

And modules to the value of 75 credits from the Department of Archaeology and from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

A list of Department of Archaeology modules can be viewed here. Full programme specifications are also available.

*While the majority of dissertation projects do not involve any additional cost to the student, you may incur some expenses if you choose a topic that is not resourced by the department.  You will be expected to cover the cost of printing and binding two copies of your dissertation/placement report.

**Depending on a student's choice of placement, this may involve additional travel or other costs.


Core Teaching Staff:

Peter DayProf Peter Day

Peter is a specialist in material culture, with particular emphasis on ceramics and the Aegean. His research interests include archaeological material culture, The technology of ceramics, Ethnographies of craft, The archaeology of the Aegean.

Roger DoonanDr Roger Doonan (Programme Director)

Roger’s areas of interest include Material Culture Studies, Archaeological theory, Community archaeology, and Experimental Archaeology.

Caroline JacksonProf Caroline Jackson

Caroline’s main research is on the study and scientific analysis of archaeological materials, specialising in glass and other vitreous materials such as faience. The primary focus of this work is in Bronze Age Egypt and the Aegean mainly from production sites and on Roman glasses from consumption contexts. She uses scientific methods to analyse archaeological glass and experimental archaeology to elucidate patterns relating to provenance, trade and consumption in the ancient and historic world.

Colin MerronyMr Colin Merrony

Colin’s research interests include the economy and landscape impact of Medieval Premonstratensian Abbeys in Britain. Landscape change in southern Yorkshire and the North-east Midlands. The development and application of field techniques for investigating historic landscapes. The use of archaeology as a mechanism for basic skills education and for enhancing social cohesion. The geochemistry of New Zealand greenstone.

Hugh WillmottDr Hugh Willmott

Hugh's research interests lie in the archaeology of the medieval and early modern period in Europe. Currently, he is currently focusing upon exploring the archaeology of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England and exploring the longer-term development of monastic landscapes in early and later medieval Lincolnshire. Other aspects of his work examine the development of historical societies through their production, consumption and deposition of material culture.


Academic Requirements:

A minimum of a 2:1 honours degree (GPA 3.0) in an arts, humanities or science subject is usually required. Your interest in and knowledge of archaeological matters are more important than the specific discipline of your undergraduate degree. EU and international student entry requirements can be found using the link below:

English Language Requirements:

For applicants whose first language is not English, IELTS is the preferred test of language. You need an IELTS score of 6.5, with at least 5.5 in all the component tests. Further information can be obtained from the following link:

Fees and Funding:

Funding options, instalment plans and tuition fee information are located at:

For those that accept a place on MA Aegean Archaeology, you will automatically considered for the Conart Bursary, worth up to £1,000.

There may be additional costs associated with any laboratory work you may undertake such as purchase of laboratory coats, dissection kit (Human Anatomy). For field work you would be required to ensure you have appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear, as well as first aid and emergency equipment. You will also need to purchase books, stationery, IT accessories, etc.

How to Apply:

Applications forms are completed on-line at the following link:

Applying to start in over 12 months time?

Please feel free to submit your application via our online system, however please note that we will not be able to process your application for this course until 12 months before your proposed start date.

Visit Us:

If you’re considering a postgraduate programme at Sheffield, you are very welcome to visit us. You can attend an open day or a visit afternoon, which will include a tour of the University campus and the department, or contact the department directly ( to arrange a personal visit to meet with the director of your chosen programme.


Cultural Materials research is a truly international in its scope with ongoing student projects in the UK, Russia, China, Albania, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Croatia, Kenya, Canada and the USA. We are familiar with developing and facilitating projects in all areas and welcome students from across the globe. The commitment to internationalisation among the research group enhances each students appreciation of the diverse approaches to cultural materials while allowing individuals to broaden their horizons while taking advantage of the many opportunities that it offers.

We encourage applicants to visit the following webpages aimed specifically at our EU and international students.

We also have a departmental page for our international applicants:

Prospective EU Students

Contact us

If you'd like to know more about any aspect of our courses, please contact us:


T: +44 (0) 114 222 2900