MSc Experimental Archaeology

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Archaeology
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


This programme explores experimental archaeology's potential as a powerful research method, an effective educational tool and an excellent medium for public outreach.

You will receive a sound practical and theoretical grounding in scientific use of experiments in archaeological research. The programme will give you practical experience of experiments related to archaeological and taphonomic processes and the production of a range of material culture types including ceramics, stone tools, metals and a range of organic materials.

The role of experiments and ‘reconstructions’ in education and public outreach is investigated through classes, practical activities, and field visits. Links with professionals, such as museums and independent establishments, provide opportunities for practical work based on a sound appreciation of theory.

The University has established an outdoor centre on its Streatham Campus to provide a location for both short and long-term experimental archaeology research. The programme involves practical work and fieldtrips and offers the opportunity for some modules to be studied online.

Programme structure

Students on the MSc Experimental Archaeology study 180 credits in total. This includes a mixture of compulsory modules, optional modules and a dissertation.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

This programme involves a high degree of learning through practice and experiments. Most of the formal classes that you attend will be based on a mixture of lectures, seminars, and workshops. The precise mix will vary between modules.

All members of staff are actively engaged in research, both in Britain and abroad, and regularly attend conferences, symposia and workshops. It is through this active engagement in the discipline that we are able to supply top quality teaching by experts in their field and as a result we have a 24/24 grading for our teaching from the Quality Assurance Agency.

We have excellent facilities for experimental archaeology including:

  • experimental archaeology lab - this flexible laboratory space is the epicentre of our students' experimental activity and is a hard-wearing practical space in which we can carry out the unusual projects that only experimental archaeologists can dream up!  
  • material stocks - including sinew, feathers, hides, bones, antlers, wood, different stone types and plant materials 
  • pottery and kiln room, where students can work with clay, equipped with a potter's wheel and a large programmable electric kiln that can reach 1300 degrees Celsius
  • workshop equipped with all the tools necessary to prepare materials for experiments
  • knapping area - an outdoor space reserved for flintknapping and other activities best done in the fresh air 
  • experimental land - a substantial area of land on campus for long-term outdoor experiments.

The assessment for the MSc Experimental Archaeology is through a combination of essays, other written reports and projects, oral or electronic presentations, visual presentations, and a dissertation. The dissertation is an original piece of research on a topic of your choice, subject to the approval of your supervisor. 


The Archaeology programmes at Exeter are designed to develop your skills of analysis, assessment and interpretation as well as the production of written and oral reports. The broad-based nature of the subject and the skills it provides give a strong grounding for a wide range of careers, not only those related to archaeology but also in the wider fields of teaching, administration and business. Some graduates combine their initial job with voluntary archaeological work or with further part time study of the subject.

Some destinations of graduates from Archaeology programmes are:

  • Archaeological Assistant
  • Experimental Archaeologist
  • Field Archaeologist
  • Learning Resources Coordinator
  • Museum Curator
  • PhD in Archaeology
  • Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Press Executive
  • Teacher
  • Time Team Archaeologist/Community Archaeologist
  • Web Developer

Research areas

The research culture in the Department of Archaeology at Exeter is characterised by world-leading and internationally excellent research projects and publications in a wide range of sub-disciplinary fields, including bioarchaeology, landscape and environmental archaeology as well as material culture and social agency. It encompasses period interests from earliest prehistory through to the post-medieval period and includes geographic specialisations that stretch from the Americas (especially North and South America), the British Isles, Northern, Western, Central and Eastern Europe, to the Eurasia steppes, South Asia and North Africa.

Primarily, our research focuses on three key themes:


We have outstanding facilities that include:

  • experimental archaeology laboratories
  • clean lab with fume cupboards for chemical work
  • a landscape archaeology project office, complete with giant scanner for maps and plans
  • microscope room equipped with high specification microscopes and image processing facilities
  • a kiln room for ceramics and other experimental purposes
  • wet labs for artefact and environmental sample processing
  • sets of high and low-power teaching microscopes
  • state-of-the-art surveying equipment (including resistivity equipment, magnetometer, differential and hand-held GPS and total station theodolite).

We also have extensive reference collections of artefacts, animal bones and plant remains. Find out more about our facilities on the Archaeology website.

In addition, we have recently invested £1.2 million into Digital Humanities to create a new lab and research space for the examination and preservation of important historical, literary and visual artefacts. The lab will enable you to use high-tech equipment to find out more about our cultural heritage, examine items in greater detail and share discoveries with the public. For more information view our Digital Humanities Lab page.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum 2:1 Honours degree in Archaeology or a related subject (for example, Anthropology, Biology, Geography or Environmental Science).  Applicants with non-standard qualifications should contact the College of Humanities Postgraduate Administrator to discuss admission.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

  • UK/EU: £8,750 full-time; £4,375 part-time
  • International: £18,500 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Scholarships and other funding

Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our taught Masters programmes in Archaeology.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

Admissions Office - Exeter

Web: Enquire online

Phone: 0300 555 6060 (UK callers)
+44 (0)1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

Select a programme

Fast Track
Current Exeter students
Funding Ask a question Visit subject website Get a prospectus

Fieldwork at Ipplepen

In 2010 the University of Exeter, the British Museum and Devon County Council started a survey and excavation that aimed to explore the nature of this Roman and early medieval British site. In this short video, Danielle Wootton explains the origins of the dig, and the unique features of Ipplepen.

//unibuddy popcard script