MA Archaeology

Academic Year 2020/2021

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

UCD School of Archaeology is the foremost archaeological research institution in Ireland and our teaching programme focuses on archaeology in Ireland and overseas. Our aim is to equip graduates to contribute to archaeology across the globe, with key concepts developed from understanding the internationally acclaimed Irish archaeological record. In the MA programme, this will include fieldtrips to iconic Irish sites and landscapes. Perspectives and practices from archaeological landscapes across the globe will be developed through the programme, and specialisation in different geographical areas strongly encouraged. Students will execute a variety of approaches to archaeological practice including desktop, experimental work in the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies, field and lab-based techniques.

The MA is structured around dedicated Level 4 modules with a core and option framework. A small number of Level 3 (Advanced Undergraduate) modules may be taken as part of the MA.

Core modules include training on researching archaeology in an Irish context, field and laboratory skills, thesis skills and a major 30-credit dissertation or research placement. Optional Level 4 modules include GIS and geospatial analysis, heritage management, aspects of experimental archaeology, archaeological landscapes and high-level disussion-led modules on prehistoric archaeology and historical archaeology. Students can also take up to 10 credits from the School's existing Level 3 modules.

A variety of assessment strategies are utilised, including classroom and field presentations, book reviews, review articles and essays. Level 4 modules are assessed through continuous assessment only; however, most Level 3 modules include an examination. 

Careers & Employability

Archaeology graduates work in a wide range of fields, from cultural heritage, to media, to creative industries and archaeological companies, museums, and the state sector. Many also go on to PhD scholarships, postdoctoral fellowships and academia.
MA students will gain considerable transferable skills and develop high employability: this will include the completion of substantial independent research projects or placements; field/lab work; essay, project, report and portfolio writing; experience in making presentations orally and via posters; group work; leadership roles; and experience of working in the field. The MA in Archaeology is a recognised qualification for the Archaeological profession. An MA in archaeology or a cognate discipline is a requirement for entry into the UCD structured PhD programme.

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

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

The MA Archaeology in UCD is a Level 9, 90 credit programme which will provide students with a high level of competency in conducting independent archaeological research in a variety of contexts, from the academic through to the professional. Students will develop critical perspectives on different forms of archaeological practice including the archaeological sciences, theoretical perspectives on the past and the views of heritage stakeholders.

Being located in Dublin places us in close proximity to key cultural and archaeological institutions including the National Museum of Ireland, National Monuments Service and the Discovery Programme.

The MA Archaeology is aimed at students who wish to develop a high level of competency in the study of human culture, societies and environments through time. Students will acquire key skills in archaeological research, survey, and data management. Working in both the field and the classroom, they will enhance their core transferrable skills in critical thinking, reflection, problem solving, teamwork and report writing. The programme is especially aimed at students who have previously studied archaeology or a cognate discipline (e.g. anthropology) at an undergraduate level and who wish to engage in more advanced study and independent research. The MA Archaeology offers an excellent grounding for students seeking future employment in the heritage sector as well as developing critical skills valued by employers in a wide range of other sectors.

We welcome students of all ages who are engaged, self-motivated, work well in a teamwork environment and demonstrate a capacity for critical and analytical thinking, especially in an interdisciplinary context. Excellent communication skills are also particularly valued. At graduate level, a capacity for independent study and self-directed research is strongly encouraged.

We are committed to providing a learning environment that encourages students to develop their own ideas in collaboration with fellow students and School staff. Individual development and self-discovery is a key component of an archaeological training, as is sharing experiences and values as part of a team. Student-led discussion and debate are key elements in our programme design and implementation and strong links are maintained between School teaching and research in both the field and classroom. Regular research seminars by visiting academics allow our students to engage with cutting-edge research in European and World Archaeology.

The MA Archaeology focuses on student-led approaches, with School staff supporting and guiding students through oral presentation, discussion and seminar-based learning. Assessment strategies are varied, ranging from traditional essays, to book reviews, poster presentations and reflexive field journals. We also incorporate field-based presentation and interpretation of archaeological sites and landscapes within our assessment. The programme culminates in a 15,000 word research thesis or research placement, developed by the student with the guidance and supervision of School staff.


    • Appropriately select and apply discipline-specific archaeological skills and approaches, including archaeological fieldwork or laboratory techniques
    • Critically evaluate changes in human populations from prehistory to the present day, and evaluate their connection the modern world
    • Design and implement small-scale field or laboratory-based research projects, using appropriate professional methodologies and equipment
    • Design and implement small-scale field or laboratory-based research projects, using appropriate professional methodologies and equipment
    • Design, structure, research and implement a significant piece of original archaeological research, in the form of an MA research thesis or placement comprising 15,000 words
    • Develop a comprehensive and nuanced knowledge of Ireland’s internationally renowned archaeological record within its European and global context
    • Effectively manage projects and deadlines over the course of a year of intensive study, providing an excellent grounding for real-world archaeological project management
    • Gather, evaluate and critically assess diverse archaeological datasets, transforming them into knowledge
    • Reflect and articulate the roles of archaeology and the past in modern society, the tangible and intangible value of heritage, and the context of appropriate legislation
    • Understand and critique the latest archaeological practice and research in a global context
    • Work within large or small teams and independently, leading and being led as appropriate

    MA Archaeology (Z040) Full Time
    EU          fee per year - € 7315
    nonEU    fee per year - € 19900

    MA Archaeology (Z104) Part Time
    EU          fee per year - € 4390
    nonEU    fee per year - € 9950

    ***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.

    The Kay Mahon Bursaries

    UCD School of Archaeology is delighted to be able to provide the Kay (Cathryn) Mahon Bursaries. Ms Mahon had a life-long passion for archaeology - especially Irish archaeology, and these bursaries are funded from the generous bequest that Kay made to UCD to assist students to study archaeology. For informal enquiries please contact the School Administrator by e-mail at: From 2018 up to three Mahon bursaries will be awarded, with one each in the MA Archaeology, MSc Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture and MSc World Heritage Management and Conservation.

    This programme is intended for applicants with a background in Archaeology, Anthropology, History, Geography, Environmental Studies or other cognate disciplines. An upper second class honours degree, or the international equivalent, is required.

    • Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0 in each element), or equivalent.
    • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes 

    Graduate Profile
    Elizabeth Elliot,
    Project Manager Fortune 500 company, USA
    In my current job as project manager for a Fortune 500 company, I leverage the skills I learned at UCD School of Archaeology on a daily basis. From day one, my enthusiastic and highly-skilled professors taught me to embrace innovation and question the status quo. While working on my thesis, they helped me develop strong analytical capabilities and project management skills. My experience studying in a different country, hugely enjoyable and memorable, gave me the invaluable experience of learning in a different culture. Thanks to my experience at UCD School of Archaeology, I developed a unique skill set that allows me to design and manage projects across the corporate cultural divide and create sustainable solutions that work.

    See also:

    MSc Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture

    MSc World Heritage Management and Conservation

    Also Graduate Diploma versions of all three programmes for students who do not possess a 2.1 degree in Archaeology or any cognate discipline but have demonstrable archaeological experience/expertise


    HDip Archaeology for students with no experience in archaeology or any cognate discipline

    The following entry routes are available:

    MA Archaeology FT (Z040)
    1 Years
    Full Time
    Rolling *
    MA Archaeology PT (Z104)
    2 Years
    Part Time
    Rolling *

    * Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised