MSc European Prehistories: Deep-Time Social Perspectives

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The MSc in European Prehistories is designed for students interested in the exciting challenges and opportunities that studying our prehistoric past can offer. With its long view on contemporary concerns such as social inequality, migration, and the relationship between human behaviour, landscape and climatic change, prehistoric archaeology is uniquely placed to provide you with a critical perspective on some of the most pressing issues today.

UCD School of Archaeology has an international reputation in the study of prehistoric archaeology, with one of the largest groups of researchers in this field anywhere in the world. You will be part of a dynamic, friendly and international postgraduate community in a School with a 160-year history of exceptional archaeological research. Our approach is global in perspective, but you will also be able to explore and study first-hand Ireland’s extraordinary cultural heritage. You will benefit from UCD’s proximity to some of the best-preserved and most spectacular prehistoric monuments and landscapes in Europe as well as to key cultural institutions such as the National Museum of Ireland with its outstanding prehistory collections.

You will learn to combine innovative archaeological and scientific approaches with current theoretical perspectives to examine the material remains of prehistoric societies, developing a sophisticated understanding of how different field and laboratory methods can be employed to answer key research questions in prehistory. You will gain skills in project design and independent research, data analysis and interpretation, and communicating the past to different stakeholder groups.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

MSc in European Prehistories: Deep-Time Social Perspectives

Programme co-ordinator: Professor Joanna Brück


The MSc European Prehistories will be taught by UCD School of Archaeology experts working at the cutting edge of current research on prehistoric monuments and material culture, landscapes and lifestyles. You will explore and investigate the prehistoric past though lectures, seminars and practical projects and you will benefit from the School’s excellent field facilities and laboratories.

The MSc programme (90 credits) is structured around a series of core modules with thematic options. The core modules comprise two 10-credit specialist modules in Prehistoric Archaeology, one in trimester 1 (Ritual, society and identity in prehistory) and one in trimester 2 (Landscape, mobility and environmental change in prehistory), and a 10-credit module on Material culture. These modules provide you with the critical and reflective skills required to understand how archaeologists analyse and interpret prehistoric objects, sites, bodies, monuments and landscapes.

The Research skills module (5 credits) will support you in developing your dissertation proposal, teaching you to design a project, ask research questions, devise methodologies, analyse data and interpret it in the context of wider archaeological knowledge. The capstone assessment is a 30 credit (15,000 words) original MSc dissertation formulated and led you with appropriate supervision from members of academic staff. This will allow you to design, implement and analyse the results of your own substantial research on a topic of your choice.

Options are based on School thematic strengths in prehistoric archaeology; landscape archaeology; experimental archaeology; and world heritage management. These will help you to deepen your practical and analytical skills in specific areas. The programme is taught through a diversity of teaching methods and innovative assessment types by experienced professionals and gives you the opportunity to really develop your knowledge and skills in archaeological investigations, in a creative, inspiring and enjoyable setting. Classroom activities such as lectures, seminars and workshops will be supplemented by fieldtrips and lab-based teaching for specialist modules. Depending on the modules taken, coursework may include essays, projects, posters, oral presentations, scientific analysis and the preparation of formal reports.


On completion of this programme, a student will be able to:
1. Demonstrate understanding of the distinctive challenges and opportunities of studying our prehistoric past in its global context.
2. Critically assess archaeological interpretations of different datasets.
3. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of key theoretical approaches, and of the history and context of archaeological interpretations.
4. Understand how different field and laboratory methods can be employed to answer key research questions in prehistory.
5. Appropriately select and apply discipline-specific archaeological skills and approaches to resolve research problems and develop our understanding of prehistoric societies.
6. Work within large or small teams and independently, leading and being led as appropriate.
7. Formulate and conduct successful independent research.
8. Effectively communicate archaeological knowledge using a variety of different approaches and platforms.
9. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how archaeological knowledge is relevant to key contemporary issues.

The MSc will provide you with the skills required to develop a career in the archaeological profession or the heritage sector, or to go on to further academic study. Transferable skillsets such as critical thinking and project management will also provide you with an excellent grounding for future employment in other sectors. Graduates of this programme may progress to careers in:

• Further research, whether academic or professional
• Commercial archaeology and CRM
• The heritage sector
• State sector bodies
• NGOs
• Education
• Tourism

View All Modules Here

Core modules: 
• Ritual, Society and Identity in Prehistory 
• Landscape, Mobility and Environmental Change in Prehistory 
• Material Culture 
• Research Project Skills 
• Dissertation

Optional modules:  
In discussion with the Programme Coordinator, students will be advised to choose their options from one thematic area available in our other graduate programmes: 
• Archaeology
• Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology 
• Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture 
• World Heritage Management 

MSc European Prehistories: Deep-Time Social Perspectives (W495) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 7315
nonEU    fee per year - € 19900

***Fees are subject to change

EU (& UK)  fee per year - € 7315
nonEU    fee per year - € 19900

***Fees are subject to change

Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

Students on this programme will also be eligible to apply for the School of Archaeology's Kay Mahon bursary, valued at €3,000 to be set against fees. 

- entry to MSc based on an Upper Second Class Honours (2H1) undergraduate degree (GPA 3.2, NFQ Level 8, or the international equivalent) in archaeology or anthropology, or other cognate disciplines (to be discussed with programme coordinator)


- entry to GradDip based on a Lower Second Class Honours (2H2) undergraduate degree (GPA 2.7, NFQ Level 8, or the international equivalent) or equivalent experience) in archaeology or anthropology, or other cognate disciplines (to be discussed with programme coordinator)


- If English is not your native language, proof of proficiency in English will be required, unless you took your primary degree through English. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL Internet Based Test is 90, on the IELTS system it is 6.5

The following entry routes are available:

MSc European Prehistories: Deep-Time Social Perspectives FT (W495)
1 Years
Full Time