MA History and Archaeology
UCAS code: VV1K
Duration: 4 years
School: History, Classics and Archaeology
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing MA History and Archaeology
This programme allows you to pursue specialist studies in history in combination with the distinctive insights and methodologies of archaeology. Edinburgh has a strong tradition in both history and archaeology and excellent collections of printed and material collections to support intensive study in these disciplines.
In history courses cover historical periods from the early Middle Ages to the most recent past; geographical regions including Britain and Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas; and a wide variety of approaches to the past, including political history, cultural history, social history, economic history, intellectual history, gender history, and global and transnational history.
Archaeology investigates the human past using material remains such as artefacts and excavated sites to reconstruct the economic, social and cultural life of early societies. At Edinburgh we have a rich tradition of archaeological teaching and research, specialising in European prehistory, the early civilisations of the Mediterranean and the Near East and Egypt.
You will be introduced to standard and innovative archaeological techniques and the practice and theory of archaeology. This will include the study of science-based archaeology, the study of animal and human bones and digital applications.
We emphasise the importance of training in practical archaeological skills. You can gain hands-on experience of artefact identification and analysis in practical sessions using artefacts from our own Vere Gordon Childe collection.
Our students will also normally complete three weeks of archaeological fieldwork at the end of Year 1 and have the option to undertake further fieldwork, as well as projects in heritage management and public engagement, and the lab-based analysis of archaeological remains, in later years of study.
You will study Archaeology 1A and Archaeology 1B. These courses offer a broad introduction to our human past, identifying crucial events in the development from the evolution of the first humans several million years ago, to the emergence of farming and the development of civilisation in Europe, Egypt and the Near East.
These courses also cover the key techniques that archaeologists use. These range from methods of site discovery, excavation and recording and analysing artefacts, to more recent and innovative approaches to reconstruct the lifeways of past peoples, including the scientific analysis of animal and human remains.
History courses in Year 1 are broad survey courses that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4. Courses on offer cover historical periods from the Middle Ages to the present.
You will take one of these courses and also a compulsory course in historical skills that engages with broader questions about the nature of history as an academic discipline and the methods and skills required for historical research.
You will also choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subjects.
During the long vacation at the end of Year 1, you will undertake three weeks of archaeological fieldwork.
You will study the archaeology of Scotland from the earliest evidence for human occupation at the end of the last ice age to the Roman incursion in the early 1st millennium AD.
Key themes include the world heritage sites in the 'heart' of Scotland (such as Neolithic Orkney), human-environment interaction, the ways in which the environment shapes human behaviour as well as the lasting impact which activities such as farming had on the Scottish landscape.
A field trip to visit archaeological sites and visits to the Museum of Scotland are core components of this course. You will also study Archaeology in Action, which develops your understanding of professional archaeological practice and explores exciting innovations in archaeological methods through real-world applications and hands-on practical exercises.
Year 2 history courses extend your range geographically and chronologically and currently cover various periods and themes in American, European, British, Scottish and global history. As in Year 1, history courses offer broad surveys that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4. You will choose one of these courses and also take a compulsory course in historiography.
You will also choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subjects.
You will take compulsory courses in historical and archaeological skills and methods. You will also study courses from a wide range of specialist option courses in history and archaeology.
Depending on the courses you choose to study in Years 1 and 2, you may have the option to choose one from another subject outside of these areas.
If you intend to do a dissertation in history, we recommend taking a course where you will engage with historical skills and methods.
(Revised 10 September 2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)
You will study a year-long history special subject course, further specialist option courses in archaeology or classical art/archaeology, and engage in independent research to produce an honours dissertation in either history or archaeology on a topic substantially of your own devising.
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
The School of History, Classics & Archaeology is located in the heart of the city, within the University's Central Area.
Here you’ll have access to a range of study spaces, our Student Research Room, research collections and an undergraduate common room.
You’ll also have access to the University’s libraries and computing facilities.
You’ll be taught in a range of lecture theatres and seminar rooms within the School and across the University’s Central Area.
There are plenty of opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 by applying for the School’s Erasmus exchange agreements with prestigious universities across Europe, or for one of the University’s many international exchanges beyond Europe. These cover practically every continent on the globe, from North and South America to Australia, New Zealand and all of Asia.
These are unique opportunities to immerse yourself in different university systems and cultures.
How will I learn?
In Years 1 and 2 formal teaching involves lectures and tutorials. Lectures are delivered by experts in the field, and provide an overview of key themes, concepts and questions relating to the week’s topic.
In tutorials the emphasis is on student discussion in small groups. Some courses also incorporate small student study groups, which help you learn from each other in preparation for tutorials.
You will also study independently, with a focus on reading in preparation for lectures and tutorials. Years 3 and 4 involve more seminars and independent study, with individual supervision of the final year dissertation.
How will I be assessed?
Our courses use a variety of assessment methods to help you develop transferable skills and improve your performance. You will be assessed by exams, coursework (which may include essays, primary source analyses, oral presentations, podcasts and online discussion forums) and, in some courses, your participation in tutorials and seminars.
Find out more about this programme's aims, what you will learn, how you will be assessed and what skills and knowledge you will develop.
To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
You will gain key transferable skills that employers are looking for. In particular you will learn to develop intellectually rigorous arguments, based on sound independent research and analysis.
You will also learn to compile and critically evaluate large amounts of complex and conflicting evidence, and to formulate and present your views coherently and cogently, both orally and in writing.
The research and analytical skills history students develop can be used in any research-based career. They can also be applied to careers including journalism, museum and heritage work, public relations, the diplomatic service or teaching.
Previous graduates have gone on to pursue a wide variety of careers, in the media, politics, civil service, heritage, law, business, and finance, to name just a few.
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AAAA - AABB by end of S5. If you haven’t achieved this by the end of S5 we may consider your application based on a strong performance in S6. A minimum of BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAA - ABB. (Revised 21/06/2019 from 'AAB - ABB'.)
- IB: 39 points (grades 666 at HL) - 34 points (grades 655 at HL). (Revised 21/06/2019 from '40 (766 at HL) - 34 (655 at HL)'.)
Minimum entry requirement
The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:
- SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6, with a minimum of BBB achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: ABB.
- IB: 34 points (grades 655 at HL).
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5: English at grade C.
- A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at grade C or 4.
- IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at grade 5.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
International Foundation Programme
If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.
SQA, GCSE and IB
For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
SQA National 5 Grade C
SQA Standard Grade 3
SQA Intermediate 1 Grade A
SQA Intermediate 2 Grade C
GCSE Grade C or 4
Level 2 Certificate Grade C
IB Standard Level Grade 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
IELTS Academic module overall 6.5 with 5.5 in each component
TOEFL-iBT 92 or above with 20 in each section
Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency overall 176 with 162 in each component
PTE Academic: Total 61 with at least 51 in each "Communicative Skills" section
Trinity ISE: ISE II with a distinction in all four components
We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.
English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
(Revised 05/06/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)
This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.
It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.
Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.
In Year 1 you are expected to participate in an archaeological fieldwork project. Normally the minimum requirement is three weeks of field experience. Archaeological projects often charge a participation fee.
We are able to make a contribution towards your mandatory fieldwork but the overall cost to you will depend on the type of work chosen and the location. In later years, you may opt to undertake additional practical archaeological work in the vacations following Year 2 and 3. If you study abroad in Year 3, your costs will vary by country.
For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.
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