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    MA PG Certificate PG Diploma
    2023 start September 

    Heritage and Archaeology

    Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

    Investigate and understand historic environments and the importance of involving the public in heritage conservation.
    A student wearing outerwear and hiking boots sits by an excavation site using a tablet.

    Course description

    You'll be prepared for roles within the heritage protection and commercial sectors, and heritage presentation organisations. Our department has a strong reputation in the heritage sector and you'll have ample opportunity to capitalise on our external partnerships.

    There are three pathways: Landscape Archaeology, Managing the Historic Environment and a Cross-discipline pathway that provides a more holistic analysis of both landscape and the historic environment. Within those pathways, you'll have the freedom to choose specific periods or methodologically-based themes to suit your career aspirations.

    The Landscape Archaeology pathway is more practical, teaching you how to investigate and understand historic environments. Managing the Historic Environment trains you in the development of policy, research agendas and planning, and discusses how we present heritage and the historic environment to the public. The cross-disciplinary option combines themes from both pathways, but all three pathways emphasise the importance of conserving and maintaining our heritage.

    MA students

    You'll also go on a work placement and complete a report as part of your placement experience OR choose your own research project and complete a dissertation.


    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Landscapes in archaeology: methods & perspectives

    This unit introduces the ways in which researchers have thought about landscape in archaeology and situates these perspectives within the methods that are commonplace in landscape research. Through a mix of lectures, seminars and practicals we will explore a variety of themes that together reflect the broad range of contemporary issues in landscape studies. These approaches will be applied through an analysis of a specific landscape using skills in observational survey, cartographic analysis, archival research and aerial photography gained during the practical classes. The emphasis is upon grasping both the methods and their application to specific archaeological questions.

    15 credits

    This module requires students to plan, execute and write up an original research project. This dissertation project is chosen with, and approved by, the designated supervisor, who may or may not be the programme director. Dissertation topics must be based on original research and on the students' own ideas: they must be worthwhile, affordable, manageable within time limits, be capable of supervision within the Department and related to the subject matter on the appropriate Masters.

    60 credits
    Work Placement

    The placement scheme is designed to allow students to work alongside practitioners 'in the field', and to get consolidated hands on experience in a subject/technique of particular interest to them. Placements can be in any sphere of professional practice in archaeology or management of the historic environment. Students will be expected to spend a minimum of eight weeks on the placement. The assessment will have two elements: a short account of the placement, and a written project report resulting from an aspect of the work undertaken.

    60 credits
    Heritage, Place and Community

    The aim of this module is to introduce the theory and practice of heritage, conservation and public archaeology. The module will encourage debate on issues that affect how we define and apply the term 'heritage'. It also offers an opportunity to focus on the historic 'value' of a site or landscape, with an evaluation of how it is currently managed, and strategies for its future conservation and presentation.

    15 credits
    GIS for Archaeologists

    Introduce the principles, methods and data structures employed in the analysis and reconstruction of archaeological landscapes using spatial technologies. Provide hands-on training in the application of ArcGIS in archaeological research and professional practice. Enable students to develop skills in interpretation and problem-solving using GIS. Develop students' critical understanding of how spatial technologies are used in archaeological research.

    15 credits
    Digital Cultural Heritage: Theory and Practice

    This module examines the theoretical and methodological advances in Digital Cultural Heritage and their
    broader implications in fields concerned with the interpretation and presentation of the past. We will draw on
    theoretical readings as well as analyse the potential benefits and drawbacks of certain digital and online
    approaches. Topics include: principles and theories underlying Digital Cultural Heritage, understanding
    processes of creating digital surrogates, establishing principles for user experience, and exploring digital
    narratives for public dissemination. A major component of this module will be a semester-long project that will
    require the development of a proposal for a digital cultural heritage project.

    15 credits

    Optional modules:

    Reinventing Archaeology

    This course will seek to understand how the structure of the modern practice of archaeology has come about and how changes in working methods and theoretical perspective may reconfigure the discipline. Reference will be made to the debates in method and theory and the relationships among certain specialisms. Students will develop, and to be able to express, their understanding of the discipline and the current and future position of their own ambitions.

    15 credits
    Heritage, History and Identity

    This module highlights the diversity of cultural heritage, ranging from cultural and 'natural' landscapes, through monuments to music, dress, cuisine, 'traditional' crafts, and language and dialect. It explores the role of these various forms of heritage in shaping local, regional and national identity; the extent to which they reflect or misrepresent local, regional and national history; the legal and ethical issues surrounding conservation and preservation of heritage; and how study of 'traditional' lifeways may contribute to understanding of history.

    15 credits
    Landscape Survey Project

    This module offers advanced field and lab training in aerial mapping, measured and geophysical survey, including the use of total station and GPS instruments. The module is taught through a seven-day field course on a 'live' research project (in previous years this was residential and based in North Wales).

    30 credits
    Later Neolithic & Bronze Age Britain & Ireland

    The module introduces the prehistory of Britain during the Neolithic and Bronze Age - roughly 4000-750 BC. This period witnessed dramatic and lasting changes in the constitution of society, the formation of the landscape, and the meanings of material culture. These changes included the adoption of agriculture, the construction of major ceremonial monuments such as Stonehenge, the flourishing and decline of novel burial rites, the development of metallurgy, and the widespread enclosure of the countryside into field systems. Through lectures and small-group activities and discussion, we will consider the major themes, sites and artefacts that have dominated archaeological narratives of the period. Along the way we will review many of the less well-known regions and assemblages, and debate new ways of interpreting social change. The module includes a day-long fieldtrip to visit key later prehistoric landscapes in our region.

    15 credits
    Investigating ancient environments

    This module enhances postgraduate students' understanding of the ways in which archaeologists reconstruct past environments. Through a combination of different learning experiences (lectures, student-led seminars, practical classes and directed independent study) students will explore a variety of contemporary and ancient environments as well as enhance their understanding of the methods and professional standards of environmental reconstruction. Seminars and assessments will encourage students to apply the concepts and methods introduced in the module to their specific areas of interest. The module will enable students from different postgraduate degree programmes to develop an understanding of environmental analysis that is relevant to their own research interests.This module introduces the ways in which archaeologists reconstruct past environments. Through a combination of different learning experiences (lectures, student-led seminars, practical classes and directed independent study) students will explore a variety of contemporary and ancient environments as well as enhance their understanding of the methods and professional standards of environmental reconstruction. Seminars and assessments will encourage students to apply the concepts and methods introduced in the module to their specific areas of interest. Emphasis is upon the most common analytical techniques. The intent is to provide a working knowledge of many techniques, and awareness of others, which require a mor

    15 credits

    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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

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    • MA: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
    • Postgraduate Diploma: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
    • Postgraduate Certificate: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time


    You'll be taught through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars and field trips.


    Your assessments will include essays, portfolio work, practical work, exams and a dissertation or a placement report.

    Your career

    This course prepares you for a career in the sector and teaches you how to tackle pressing issues. Or you could progress to doctoral research – this course is excellent preparation for a PhD.  

    The transferable skills you’ll develop are valued in lots of sectors, including business, journalism and teaching. Helping you prepare for your career is part of our job. Whatever your ambitions are, we’re here to support you.


    A masters degree is the perfect way to extend your love of archaeological studies and take it to the next level.

    The Department of Archaeology at Sheffield has a reputation for world-leading research and teaching in archaeology. We're among the top 50 archaeology departments in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020).

    You'll be taught by experts in their field who are at the forefront of their research. Our research-led teaching draws directly on the work of our inspirational academics who are experts in the specialist fields of bioarchaeology, medieval archaeology, cultural materials, funerary archaeology, Mediterranean archaeology and landscape archaeology.

    We take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, bringing science, the humanities and other related areas to your studies. Our multidisciplinary teaching helps you develop a strong set of skills. Our graduates are articulate, analytical and creative. They are also adaptable, curious and culturally aware. We have alumni working all over the world in a diverse range of fields, including archiving, archaeology, teaching, museums, charities, publishing, and national and local government.

    Our staff and students play an important role in the life of the city through projects and partnerships with heritage groups, commercial archaeologists and heritage providers. You'll share your understanding with others, and by doing this you'll help local communities make sense of their origins, and get a sense of their place in the wider world.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in an arts, humanities or science subject.

    Your interest in and understanding of archaeology is more important than what you studied at undergraduate level: we may consider degrees in other subjects if you display an interest in archaeology in your application.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering or Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 2900

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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