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Master's studentship opportunity – University of Reading

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  • Highways England Studentships in Archaeology

Master's studentship opportunity

MA ARCHAEOLOGY - University of Reading and MOLA Headland Infrastructure, funded by Highways England.

The effects of sub-sampling Roman pottery assemblages from large infrastructure projects

Full time: 15 months

Start date: July 2020

Highways England are funding a Masters Studentship in Archaeology, to be run by the University of Reading in conjunction with MOLA Headland Infrastructure. This Studentship will utilise the material excavated during MOLA Headland's archaeological excavations on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road Improvement Scheme. The results from the master's Dissertation will form part of the larger A14 analysis programme currently being undertaken.

This Masters Studentship will focus on the Roman pottery assemblage from the excavations, aiming to investigate the possible effects of sampling and sub-sampling strategies employed on extensive archaeological investigations due to a variety of constraints (time, finances etc.). One of the possible outcomes of the research could be the revision of our current collection and retention policies resulting in more effective use of available resources. The results would provide invaluable feedback and would provide guidelines for future infrastructure projects.

The student will spend the first 12 weeks of their programme (July-September 2020) on a placement with MOLA Headland's specialists based at one of MOLA or Headland's offices. This is anticipated to be based at one of MOLA's Northampton offices (Crofton Oak, North Portway Close, NN3 8RD), working with Adam Sutton (Iron Age and Roman pottery specialist and lead pottery specialist for the A14 excavations) and supported by Eniko Hudak (Roman pottery specialist, Pre-Construct Archaeology). The student will learn techniques in recording and analysing Roman pottery assemblages from Cambridgeshire, and will undertake the full analysis of a Roman pottery assemblage from one of the A14 sites. There will also be opportunities to learn about other aspects of commercial archaeology, including digital survey, graphics, environmental and finds processing, communications and outreach.

The student will then join the University of Reading full-time MA Archaeology programme, starting 28th September 2020. Here, they will gain an effective grounding in archaeological practice and research, with the opportunity to study a suite of thematic and skills-based modules from prehistory to the medieval period.

The Dissertation element of the master's programme will focus on the Roman pottery assemblages from the A14 sites. It will involve the full analysis of one of the scheme's Roman pottery assemblages, following the analysis of a sub-sample of the pottery assemblage from this particular site as part of the main A14 pottery analysis programme. This will allow the comparison of the results of the sample analysis with that of the full analysis, to see whether the targeted analysis of stratigraphically important pottery groups changes the interpretation of the site assemblage.

The results of this dissertation will contribute towards wider research questions regarding current methods for the analysis and interpretation of pottery assemblages, potentially leading to a review of current standards and procedures, and offering the student a chance to showcase their specialist knowledge in a high-profile study. This Dissertation will be jointly supervised by Professor Michael Fulford (University of Reading), Adam Sutton (MOLA Headland) and Eniko Hudak (PCA).

Throughout the master's the student will benefit from a unique sector-wide body of expertise in the study of Roman ceramics. In-depth training in the study of Roman ceramics will be provided during the commercial placement, this providing the basis for the dissertation research as well as being the ideal setting for the development of a specialism in Roman pottery. The internationally-renowned Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading is the perfect place to build upon the practical skills learned in the commercial placement and expand the breadth and depth of the student's archaeological knowledge and experience. The dissertation element will bring all of these strands together in a project which will have significant implications for the nature of archaeological practice through collaboration between industry and academia.

University of Reading - Department of Archaeology

The Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading has an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, and is ranked in the top ten UK universities for Archaeology (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019). The department has access to advanced facilities including fully-equipped and dedicated laboratories for human skeletal remains and animal bone analysis, stable isotope analysis, microscopic suite (CAF) and an MA study room. Our analytical suite is extensive, allowing students to access a range of techniques for their research projects.

Research in Archaeology is nurtured by dynamic research clusters. These clusters provide an interdisciplinary environment for advancing social and scientific approaches to past communities and environments as well as issues of fundamental significance, including environmental change, health, diet, social diversity and inclusivity, and cultural heritage. We benefit from excellent resources for both humanities-based and science-based archaeological research, and have strong research links and collaborations with departments across the University and external institutions.

MOLA Headland Infrastructure and the A14

MOLA Headland Infrastructure is a consortium of two of the largest and most successful archaeological companies in the UK - Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and Headland Archaeology (UK) Ltd. The consortium was specifically established to support large infrastructure projects, by bringing together experience and capacity.

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Road Improvement Scheme is one of the largest commercial archaeological excavations ever undertaken. Over 40 separate archaeological sites, covering c.250ha, were excavated over a period of two years. Archaeological remains from all periods were uncovered, including mammoths and woolly rhinos, Neolithic henges, Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age farmsteads, Roman settlements and pottery kilns, Saxon settlements, and a deserted medieval village. The Post-Excavation Assessment and Updated Project Design has been submitted, and the main analysis phase has just started and will run until 2023.

Entry requirements

  • A first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent from a university outside the UK) in archaeology, or to be working towards the completion of this in summer 2020.
  • A minimum of three months' archaeological fieldwork experience (either in commercial or on a research excavation) is highly desirable.
  • Some experience of working with archaeological finds, particularly pottery, would be an advantage.
  • An interest in the archaeology of Roman Britain or the Roman Empire is also desirable.


Compulsory modules (80 credits)

  • Dissertation
  • Theoretical Approaches in Archaeology

Optional modules (100 credits)

  • Our Closest Cousins? Archaeology of the Neanderthals
  • Interpreting Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain
  • Themes and Approaches in the Study of Mesopotamia
  • The City of Rome
  • Material Culture Studies and identities in the Roman Empire
  • Viking Interactions in the West
  • Colonisation and Cultural Transformation: the Archaeology of Crusading
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Coastal and Maritime Geoarchaeology
  • Applications of Micromorphological Analysis
  • Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
  • Dark Age Societies AD 400-1000
  • Edge of the Pleistocene World
  • Molluscan Biostratigraphy
  • Issues and Debates in Bioarchaeology
  • Analysis of Human Remains
  • Science and the Dead
  • Hidden Heritage: Investment and Interpretation of Historic Buildings and Landscapes

Please note that all modules are subject to change.


This Master's Studentship is being funded by Highways England.


  • Tuition fees for new UK/EU students (£7,735 per year).
  • £5,000 during 12-week placement.
  • £11,500 stipend over duration of master's programme (paid in three installments).

Not Covered:

  • Any additional expenses required (living expenses, travel expenses).

How to apply

To be considered for this Masters Studentship you first need to submit an application for the full-time MA Archaeology programme and receive an offer. You will then be eligible to apply for the Masters Studentship.

Applications for the Highways England studentship 2020/21 have now closed.

If you have any questions about this master's programme, please contact

 See the studentship full terms and conditions

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