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Master's courses – University of Reading

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Master's courses

Establish a firm foundation in your chosen specialism.

Further your studies with an MA or MSc in archaeology. You'll learn from academics with an international reputation for excellence in research and participate in world-leading fieldwork and research projects.

Get a feel for our MA Archaeology and MSc Professional Human Osteoarchaeology courses by checking out one of our taster session recordings.

As an MA student, you'll have the opportunity to develop a strong research base that links social and scientific archaeology, and will have choice and flexibility through a range of optional modules.

As a student on our MSc Professional Human Osteoarchaeology degree, you'll receive highly vocational training for the advanced study of archaeological human remains and related research, and the opportunity to engage with professionals through talks and site visits, allowing you to develop vital contacts for your career.

"The staff are all leaders in their respective fields, but that does not make them unapproachable; the professors are constantly criss-crossing the atrium to consult with colleagues and commune with students. Despite this informality, staff hold their students to a high academic standard that has put the department among the ranks of the best programs in the UK. The University of Reading Archaeology department provided me with the academically fulfilling experience that I had always wanted."

Mike Murray - MA Archaeology

How you'll learn

You'll learn through a series of seminars, lectures and workshops, and further develop your skills in conducting independent research and critical analytical thought. Our MA students gain technical skills in key archaeological methods and techniques, and MSc students have fully equipped and dedicated laboratories for bone analysis, stable isotope analysis, micromorphology, palynology, geoarchaeology and digital X-rays, as well as a microscopic suite.

You'll take a research skills module, which includes a series of workshops and practicals on writing essays, dissertations, research proposals and publications, information and communication technology resources, and quantitative applications in archaeology.

The annual master's conference will help develop your oral presentation skills, and there are also opportunities to get involved with staff fieldwork projects. 

MSc students taking our unique core module 'In at the Deep End: practicing human osteoarchaeology' will participate in a practical to get first-hand experience in the appropriate excavation of skeletal remains using a mock burial site. Watch a taster video for the module below:


Whether you plan to continue your studies at doctoral level, or use your intellectual and practical skills in employment, you'll have the opportunity to prepare for your future career with a placement.

Recent master's students have done placement work with the Silchester Environs team and the Museum of English Rural Life, gaining skills in earthwork surveys and geophysics work.


Many of our postgraduates go on to full-time, graduate-level employment within archaeology and related consultancies or contractors, as well as within museums and government agencies. Up to a third of graduates continue their academic career through doctoral research.

Graduates of the MSc Professional Human Osteoarchaeology course will be superbly placed to help answer the urgent need for specialists in industry, having been trained to know exactly what to expect both as an on-site osteologist and in the lab. The demand for trained and skilled archaeologists is set to grow exponentially over the next decade, due to a high number of large scale infrastructure and investment projects planned on a national scale both in the UK and abroad.

In recent years, Reading postgraduate students have been successful in obtaining appointments with heritage agencies such as Historic England and The National Trust, and as university academics.

Dedicated facilities

Take advantage of our outstanding teaching collections and facilities housed in modern premises. You will benefit from our dedicated Archaeology Building as well as five laboratories containing our extensive collection of artefacts, ecofacts, human remains and animal bones. You'll have easy access to the University's central Chemical Analysis Facility and our three superb on-campus museums, as well.Osteo_lab

The Department curates over 600 human skeletons from four sites in the UK spanning the Roman to the post-medieval period (Hulton Abbey, Bishopstone, St Oswald's Priory and Redhill). These provide an excellent resource for teaching human anatomy, analytical methods, child osteology and human palaeopathology.

We also have close links with the Natural History Museum, Oxford Archaeology, Historic England, British Museum and Museum of London that provide access to collections for Masters level dissertation research.

Three labs make up the Bioarchaeology Suite at Reading: we boast a dedicated and well-equipped laboratory for Human Osteology, digital radiographic equipment and a bone chemistry (isotope analysis) preparation laboratory, with world-class analytical facilities in the School and in our Chemical Analysis facility (CAF).

You will also benefit from the rich archaeological heritage of Reading and its area, including the important medieval abbey at Reading, the prehistoric monuments of the Thames Valley, and historic locations such as Oxford, Silchester, Winchester and Salisbury.


Scholarships are available for master's students enrolling in 2021, some offered directly by the University and others allocated by external funding bodies. In order to apply, a candidate must have received an offer of admission to one our participating master's courses.

The University is offering 4 scholarships of £3,000 each for international students and 5 scholarships of £1,000 each for UK/EU students offered to offered admission to Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science Master's students.

Highways England are also funding two Master's Studentships in Archaeology, to be run by the University of Reading in conjunction with MOLA Headland Infrastructure.


Looking for 2022/23 courses?

If you would like to start studying Archaeology at the University of Reading in 2022, please view our 2022/23 postgraduate courses.

Apply now

The quickest and easiest way to apply for postgraduate study at the University of Reading is through our online application service.

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