MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology | University of Oxford
MSc ALA
MSc students in the field
(Image Credit: John Cairns)

MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology

About the course

This two year part-time MSc course is concerned with understanding human impacts on past landscapes through the theory and methods of landscape archaeology. The course is intended for those with a degree or diploma in archaeology or a related subject.

This MSc is a part-time modular course over two years, leading to a University of Oxford graduate degree in archaeology. The course is designed for the needs of students who wish to study part-time and this includes those who are in full-time employment. Those with a personal or professional interest in landscape archaeology are welcome to apply.

Landscape archaeology is an increasingly popular and widely understood concept. Using a multi-period systematic approach, it is concerned with understanding past human impacts on the resources, topography and environment of the whole landscape, from uplands to coasts, and from farmed landscapes to urban/industrial areas.

Many new methods of research are being developed in landscape archaeology, including digital mapping and remote-sensing techniques such as geophysics. These are taking their place alongside fieldwalking, historic landscape analysis, aerial photography and selective excavation to provide a flexible and effective armoury of techniques for the researcher. Skills such as survey and historic landscape characterisation are becoming essential for anyone involved in the management of the historic environment. Effective communication of the value and potential of the historic landscape is vital in the world of planning, tourism and education.

The course involves a combination of academic study and field practice – survey and geophysics form a central theme, and the department enjoys the support of Bartington Instruments Ltd for this.

This course is designed to appeal to those who already have experience of studying archaeology (or a closely-related subject) at undergraduate degree or advanced diploma level and who wish to expand their academic, practical and professional skills in landscape archaeology.

With a strong (but not exclusive) emphasis on the archaeology of Britain, it focuses on the applications of research methods in varying landscape situations. The course format is flexible and enables students to pursue their own research interests leading to a 15,000-word dissertation.

Graduate destinations

A number of students have gone on to DPhil/PhD programmes at Oxford and elsewhere. Others developed their careers in UK and European heritage professions, including working for organisations such as English Heritage, National Trust for Scotland, McDonald Institute (University of Cambridge), county and regional heritage, HERs and curatorial advisory services, Portable Antiquities Scheme, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and in commercial consultancy and field practice.

One alumnus (who also has legal qualifications) is now Director of Recoveries for Cultural Heritage in the UK Art Loss Register. Many other alumni are active in community and local research groups.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours or FHEQ Level 6 Advanced Diploma (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in archaeology or a related subject. If you are unsure as to whether your qualification is in a related subject, please contact the Programme Director.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

A BA/BSc degree (in combined honours) or PGCert in a relevant subject may be acceptable.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Extensive field and/or professional experience in archaeology is also relevant and may be taken into account as a factor in admission. Qualifications and experience in a related area of historical, landscape and/or environmental relevance will also be considered. You would normally be expected to have some practical archaeological experience, such as excavation, survey or data processing

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Places on the course are not offered without the administration of an interview. All candidates whose applications demonstrate that they meet the stated entry criteria will be invited for interview. Candidates will normally be expected to attend interview in Oxford in person; if a candidate is unable to attend on the date initially  proposed, s/he will be offered an alternative interview date. Skype interviews may be held in rare cases, at the discretion of the Programme Director, when travelling to Oxford is difficult or impossible for a candidate within the interview period.

Interviews are conducted by a minimum of two interviewers. An invitation to interview is not a guarantee of an offer of a place.

Publications

Publications are not expected

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department for Continuing Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department for Continuing Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department for Continuing Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The department is well-equipped for field teaching and supporting individual students’ field studies, mainly field survey. It has a range of archaeological survey and IT equipment, including GIS and geophysical equipment and software, which may be borrowed/used by students, after appropriate experience or training. You will be encouraged, where appropriate, to participate more widely in archaeological excavation and/or laboratory analysis, but the department does not normally offer its own resources/facilities for supporting these as part of the course. If you have a query about equipment or facilities needed to support your studies, please contact the Programme Director. 

The department is committed to supporting you to pursue your academic goals. 

The Rewley House Continuing Education Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, is situated in Rewley House. The department aims to support the wide variety of subjects covered by departmental courses at many academic levels. The department also has a collection of around 73,000 books together with periodicals. PCs in the library give access to the internet and the full range of electronic resources subscribed to by the University of Oxford. Wifi is also available. The Jessop Reading Room adjoining the library is available for study. You will have access to the Central Bodleian and other Bodleian Libraries.

The Graduate School provides a stimulating and enriching learning and research environment for the department's graduate students, fostering intellectual and social interaction between graduates of different disciplines and professions from the UK and around the globe. The Graduate School will help you make the most of the wealth of resources and opportunities available, paying particular regard to the support and guidance needed if you are following a part-time graduate programme. The department’s graduate community comprises over 600 members following taught programmes and more than 70 undertaking doctoral research.

The department provides various IT facilities, including the Student Computing Facility which provides individual PCs for your use. Many of the department's courses are delivered through blended learning or have a website to support face-to-face study. In most cases, online support is delivered through a virtual learning environment. 

Depending on the programme you are taking with the department, you may require accommodation at some point in your student career. Rewley House is ideally located in central Oxford; the city's historic sites, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants are only a few minutes’ walk away. The department has 35 en-suite study bedrooms, all with high quality amenities, including internet access.

The Rewley House dining room has seating for up to 132 people. A full meal service is available daily. The department operates a Common Room with bar for students. 

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A range of scholarships are available to students on the programmes offered by the department, along with bursary funds to assist students on low incomes. Full information on these opportunities can be found on the departmental funding pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £2,125£1,511c. £3,636
Overseas£7,880£1,511£9,391

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions.  Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Colleges

The following colleges accept students on the MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology:

How to apply

If you wish to discuss your application, please contact the Director of Studies, Dr David Griffiths. However, it is not necessary to contact academic staff before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
One to two pages

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

This will be assessed for evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study and the ability to present a reasoned case in English.

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 to 2,500 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

The topic(s) of your written work should be relevant to the subject area of the course. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct an defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in a group. All references must be academic.