Postgraduate study

Geographical Information Science & Archaeology

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

This programme offers you the chance to develop a detailed understanding of the application of geographical information science (GIS) and related technologies within the field of archaeology.

The programme retains a distinctive Scottish flavour, and students will benefit from the guidance of internationally recognised staff.

The programme combines the pedigree of Edinburgh’s GIS expertise with a long-established reputation in archaeological teaching and research.

You will gain a broad understanding of the use of GIS in archaeological surveying, recording and research and will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills necessary to work in this vibrant area.

Demand for the application of GIS within archaeology is growing at an unprecedented rate, including searching for new archaeological sites, determining the societal context of existing sites and examining the interplay between successive occupations of a site.

The proven ability of our GIS graduates in employment means our programme is held in high regard by a wide range of employers.

The programme is organised into two semesters of taught courses, delivered through lectures and seminars, after which you will work towards your individual dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Principles of GIS for Archaeologists
  • Introduction to Spatial Analysis
  • Spatial Modelling
  • Research Practice & Project Planning
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses. We particularly recommend:

  • Distributed GIS
  • Frontiers in Archaeology: Research Seminars
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing
  • Object Oriented Software Engineering: Principles
  • Object Orientated Software Engineering: Spatial Algorithms
  • Advanced Spatial Database Methods
  • Byzantine Archaeology: The Archaeology of the Byzantine Empire and its Neighbours AD500–850
  • GeoVisualisation
  • Further Spatial Analysis
  • Hyperspectral Remote Sensing
  • Introduction to Radar Remote Sensing
  • The Scottish Lowlands: Archaeology and Landscape before the Normans
  • Theoretical Archaeology
  • Archaeology and Environment

Field trip

There is a field trip to the Kindrogan Field Centre, Perthshire, in October, focusing on techniques for capturing geospatial information.

The expertise gained on this programme will allow you to continue to study or to pursue a career in surveying, illustration and 3D visualisation, digital archiving, heritage management, terrain modelling, database management, geomatics or consultancy.

Our GIS graduates have gained work in both public and private sector organisations, including Historic Scotland, English Heritage, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, thinkWhere (formerly Forth Valley GIS) and CFA Archaeology.

You may also be interested in the following programmes:

Student experience

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Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant industrial or business experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
  • UKVI list of majority English speaking countries
  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Programme Director, Neil Stuart
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2543
  • Email: n.stuart@ed.ac.uk
  • School of GeoSciences
  • Institute of Geography
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Neil Stuart
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 2543
  • Email: n.stuart@ed.ac.uk
  • School of GeoSciences
  • Institute of Geography
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP