Postgraduate Students

Margaret Stewart Bequest Research Scholarship in Archaeology

Information on the Margaret Stewart Bequest Scholarship application process for 2024/25 entry.

The University of Edinburgh invites applications from candidates for the Margaret Stewart Bequest Scholarship for the degree of MSc by Research. The scholarship exists due to the generosity of Margaret Stewart who had a particular interest in Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Beaker pottery and must be based upon one of the topics listed in the Eligibility section.


The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate only for full-time Archaeology MSc by Research students. Successful overseas applicants will be liable for the difference between the Home and International fee rates. The scholarship also includes a stipend at the UKRI rate (the UKRI stipend for the academic year 24/25 has now been published on the UKRI website as £19,237). Some travel funding will be included (and other opportunities for travel funding exist within the School).


The scholarship will be awarded to new applicants who have applied for admission to a full-time Masters by Research degree programme of study at the University commencing in September 2024.

The MSc research project must be on one of the agreed topics as outlined below:

  • An aspect of Beaker pottery in Britain, Ireland, or Continental Europe. This could include, for example, a study of Maritime Beakers and/or other Beakers with an international distribution, or a detailed typochronological study of the trajectory of Beaker development, making use of the large number of radiocarbon dates now available from the Beaker People Project and other initiatives. Of particular interest are the earliest uses of Beaker pottery in Britain and Ireland, and a ‘compare and contrast’ of Beakers (and the broader ‘Beaker phenomenon’) between Britain and Ireland. A fully illustrated, up to date corpus of Irish Beaker pottery is a desideratum, as is an update of David L. Clarke’s distribution maps from his 1970 book on The Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland. There is also a need for more technical analyses of the Beaker ceramic tradition, akin to those undertaken in France and Switzerland.
  • Funerary practices associated with Beaker pottery and with other contemporary funerary traditions not associated with Beakers.
  • The contexts of Beaker use, and their significance.
  • The relationship between the Beaker ceramic tradition and others whose currency overlaps with it.
  • An aspect of the study of human remains associated with Beakers, building on the osteological and isotopic work undertaken by the Beaker People Project and on the results of a DNA analysis of numerous Beaker-associated individuals across Europe.
  • Beaker domestic sites and settlement patterns in Britain and Ireland, updating and building on Alex Gibson’s 1982 study.
  • Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age agriculture and society, and its variation across Britain and Ireland.
  • Specific types of material culture associated with the use of Beaker pottery (e.g. metalwork).
  • Testing Needham’s 2005 model for the appearance and subsequent development of Beaker pottery in Britain.

This list is not exhaustive, and candidates are advised to read the voluminous literature about the Beaker phenomenon before proposing a topic, to avoid duplication of work already done.

About Margaret Stewart

Margaret Stewart MBE (née Crichton Mitchell, 1907–1986) was a distinguished and influential archaeologist with a particular interest in Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Beaker pottery. She studied archaeology at the University of Edinburgh under Vere Gordon Childe and her article in Volume 85 (1950–51) of the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, ‘A new analysis of the Early Bronze Age Beaker pottery of Scotland’, was the standard text on Scottish Beaker pottery until the work of David L. Clarke in 1970. Based in Perth, she excavated at numerous sites in Perth and Kinross, including stone circles at Monzie and Scone and a short cist cemetery at Almondbank. She also surveyed rock art and established the Archaeology Section of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science in 1948. An advocate of encouraging a professional approach to community-based archaeological fieldwork, she was a keen supporter of the Scottish Regional Group of the Council for British Archaeology (now Archaeology Scotland) on its establishment 80 years ago.

She made a generous bequest to the University of Edinburgh to encourage students to research Beaker pottery and allied topics, the original terms referring to: “grants for travel and subsistence to students wishing to carry out research on European Beaker pottery or similar work…”. In recent years, several PhDs on topics relating to the Beaker phenomenon have been awarded from her Bequest: a study of Beaker metalwork in Central Europe, one on Beaker funerary practices in Atlantic Europe, one on Beakers in northern Scotland, and one on the origin and development of the Beaker ceramic tradition in northern Britain.


Applicants must have, or expect to obtain, the equivalent of a UK first class or 2:1 Honours degree at undergraduate level.


The application process consists of two steps that must be completed by specific deadlines:

  1. Academic (Masters) application
  2. Scholarship application

Step One: Academic (Masters by Research) application

Applicants must submit their academic application via the University of Edinburgh online application system by Tuesday 16 April 2024, 23:59 GMT.

Explore our range of MSc programmes and apply online

Please note that the funding applications have their own separate timelines and rules for both the study and the scholarship applications which differ from the deadlines generated automatically by the application portal when submitting your study application. This means that all your supporting documentation must, where available, also be uploaded by the deadline.

Pending academic references

If you plan to submit your application on or close to the deadline, please liaise closely with your referees to ensure they supply the required reference within 5 working days after the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered by the scholarships panel.

Pending degree or English test result

If a degree result or test of English competency is pending we can consider your application and, where appropriate, make you an offer conditional upon supplying these at a later date.

Step Two: Scholarship application

Applicants must also complete an online scholarship application form by Tuesday 30 April 2024, 23:59 GMT. Please note you will not be able to access the online application form in the MyEd portal unless you have applied for admission to the University of Edinburgh and received your login details (University username and password). We therefore advise you to complete your Masters application at your earliest convenience.

Please select the option 'The Margaret Stewart Bequest Scholarship in Archaeology'.

As part of your scholarship application, you will complete a personal statement (maximum 3,500 characters, including spaces). Do not underestimate the importance of your personal statement in which you should set out your academic achievements and goals, and indicate how the award would benefit your studies. This statement should give added value to your application and help you to stand out, particularly with the research proposal topic in mind. It will be read carefully by panel members. Make sure that it reflects you and your accomplishments as well as possible.


  • Masters application deadline: Tuesday 16 April 2024, 23:59 GMT
  • Scholarship application deadline: Tuesday 30 April 2024, 23:59 GMT


The outcome notification will be sent in May/June 2024.