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 Master of Science (MSc) course is concerned with the theories and methods of landscape archaeology. The course is intended for those with a degree (undergraduate or postgraduate) or an advanced 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 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 newer methods of research are being developed in landscape archaeology, including digital mapping and geophysics. These are taking their place alongside field-walking, 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 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, outreach and education.

The course involves a combination of academic study and field practice. It is designed to appeal to those who already have experience of studying archaeology (or a closely-related subject) at undergraduate or postgraduate 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 in our teaching, the course 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. This can be on a theme, area or subject in Britain or elsewhere. 

Supervision

For this taught master's course, the Course Director acts as academic supervisor for all students over the two years. A dissertation tutor will also be appointed at the appropriate time in the course when your topic is approved (usually early in the second year). This may be the Course Director, or another of the course teaching team. Under exceptional circumstances a dissertation tutor may be found outside the course team.

Graduate destinations

A number of students have gone on to DPhil/PhD programmes at Oxford and elsewhere, several of which have been funded. Others have developed their careers in UK and European heritage professions, including working for organisations such as Historic England, The National Trust for Scotland, Oxford Archaeology, National Museums Liverpool, Ministry of Defence, National Maritime Museum, McDonald Institute (University of Cambridge) county and regional heritage, HERs and curatorial advisory services, Portable Antiquities Scheme, and in commercial consultancy and field practice. Others have used the knowledge and learning experience gained on the course in their existing roles, such as in teaching, policy, or landscape management. 

Changes to this course and your supervision

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. In certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

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, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Entry requirements for entry in 2020-21

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in archaeology or a related subject (typically history, historic environment, geography, environmental science, but for specific/personal advice on related subjects, please contact the course administrator); or
  • a FHEQ Level 6 Advanced Diploma in archaeology or a related subject with the equivalent of an upper second-class or above; or
  • a postgraduate qualification normally to the level of distinction in archaeology or a related subject.

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

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

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test Scores

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

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience 

  • 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.
  • Publications are not expected.

Further guidance

  • If you are unsure as to whether your qualification is in a related subject, please contact the Programme Director.

English language requirement

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement.

Detailed requirements - higher level

The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are:

IELTS Academic7.5Minimum 7.0 per component
TOEFL iBT110

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) or C1 Advanced191Minimum 185 per component
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) or C2 Proficiency191Minimum 185 per component

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. For more information about the English language test requirement, visit the Application Guide.

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

Interviews are held as part of the admissions process.  Interviews take place at Rewley House, University of Oxford, and normally last for 30 minutes.  Interviews are conducted by a minimum of two interviewers. An invitation to interview is not a guarantee of an offer of a place.

We do not offer places on this programme without conducting 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.  Applicants invited to interview will be consulted on their availability if they are unable to make the day/time initially proposed. 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.

For the January application date, interviews will be held in the month of February; for the March date in the month of April; for applications after March, if the course remains open, in the month following receipt of the completed application. 

Supervision

Any offer of a place is dependent on the University’s ability to provide the appropriate supervision for your chosen area of work. Please refer to the ‘About’ section of this page for more information about the provision of supervision for this course.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on academic merit and potential, according to the published entry requirements for the course. 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. Whether you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

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

After an offer is made

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, you will be required to meet the following requirements: 

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

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. 

Please note that lunches are not normally provided as part of this course, except on the induction day. 

Funding

There are over 1,100 full or partial graduate scholarships available across the University. You will be automatically considered for over two thirds of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant January deadline, with most scholarships awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. To help identify those scholarships where you will be required to submit an additional application, use the Fees, funding and scholarships search and visit individual college websites using the links provided on our college pages.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2020-21

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£3,985
Overseas£10,460

Course 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 course fees). 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.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave 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 course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,135 and £1,650 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. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2020-21, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

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 Course Administrator who will forward your enquiry to the most appropriate person, normally the Course Director. 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 written submissions of 2,000 to 2,500 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible, including excerpts from a dissertation. Professional or other reports/publications are only acceptable for this purpose if you are the sole author.

The topic(s) of your submitted 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 and defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, at least two 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.

At least two of your references must come from individuals who are capable of commenting on your academic ability. One may be a professional reference.

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

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Read our guide to getting started, which explains how to prepare for and start an application.

Step 2: Check that you meet the Entry requirements and read the How to apply information on this page.

Step 3: Check the deadlines on this page and plan your time to submit your application well in advance.

Step 4: Our Application Guide will help you complete the form. It contains links to FAQs and further help.

Step 5: Submit your application as soon as possible (you can read more information about our deadlines).

Application GuideApply

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