MSc Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy


This course combines the study of environmental archaeology and past economies, in order to advance our understanding of the relationship between people and nature in the making of human history.

• The course is taught through practical lab-based classes as well as lectures and seminars covering current theoretical debates.
• Your dissertation will provide the opportunity to specialise in one branch of these related fields, and to gain advanced expertise in practical archaeobotany, zooarchaeology or geoarchaeology.
• We stress the integration of `humanities´ and `science-based´ approaches to produce a deeper understanding of past humanity.
• We emphasise studies of contemporary ecology, economy and ethnography as a basis for investigating the past.
• You will have the opportunity to work between and across different viewpoints and approaches, make up your own mind about their strengths and weaknesses, and develop your own ideas.
• Students have access to excellent lab facilities and some of the best plant and animal bone collections in the world; they are taught by staff actively researching in the fields of environmental and economic archaeology.
• By the end of the course you will have the acquired the skills necessary to reconstruct and understand past environments and economies, which is critical to careers in either research or professional contexts.

Cows threshing

Student and graduate profiles

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Students in the lab

Burnt corn

Animal bones

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 an MSc (180 credits), Diploma (120 credits) or a Certificate (60 credits).
Typical forms of assessment include essays, presentations and completion of a research-led dissertation*.

Information relates to 2018-19 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 Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn.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.

Core Modules:

These compulsory modules will provide you with the key knowledge and understanding for research in environmental archaeology.

*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.

Optional Modules:

You will choose modules worth a total of 60 credits, which will include at least one of the following:

Availability of other optional modules varies from year to year but the following module list gives a flavour of the kind of specialised modules we will offer in archaeology. You may also select modules in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities to a maximum value of 45 credits.

Full programme specifications are also available.


Core Teaching Staff:

Umberto AlbarellaDr Umberto Albarella

Umberto specialises in the study of animal bones from archaeological sites (zooarchaeology). His research is wide-ranging and strongly oriented towards the integration of different aspects of archaeology. His work is predominantly based in Britain and Italy and he has also worked in Armenia, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Portugal.

Gianna AyalaDr Gianna Ayala

Gianna’s research interests are wide reaching and focus on the integration of different analytical methods. She works predominately in the Mediterranean but has worked all over the world, including Britain, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Argentina.

Paul HalsteadProf Paul Halstead (Programme Director)

Paul’s research has focussed chronologically and geographically on the later prehistory (Neolithic and Bronze Age) of Greece, thematically on the relationship between farming economies and social change, and methodologically on the contributions of zooarchaeology and ethnoarchaeology to the study of past animal and crop husbandry. He has participated in archaeological fieldwork projects in Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria and Britain and in ethnoarchaeological projects in Greece, France and Spain.

Glynis JonesProfessor Glynis Jones 

Glynis is a specialist in archaeobotany. Her research interests include, the origins and spread of agriculture, the investigation of crop domestication and spread through DNA analysis, ecological approaches to crop domestication, the use of weed ecology in the identification of crop husbandry practices, stable isotopes as a method for identifying the intensity of crop cultivation practices, dating the spread of crops through Europe, the role of crop cultivation in the Neolithic to Iron Age in Britain/Europe, ethnoarchaeological approaches to the investigation of early farming.

Michael WallaceDr Michael Wallace

Michael's research focuses on the transition to agriculture in southwest Asia and Europe, and subsequent developments in crop farming practices throughout prehistory. He utilises a variety of complementary archaeobotanical and statistical approaches, including stable isotope analysis, morphometrics and big data analytics.


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:


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

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 doing 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.


We are truly international in our scope and ethos. Our students come to us from countries all over Europe, Asia and America. Their vibrancy, pursuit of knowledge and divergent experience informs our debates and provokes lively discussion. 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