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MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology

Key facts

TypeOxford Qualification - Part-time
Start dateOct 2014
Subject area(s)Archaeology
Fees2014 fees: circa £2,000 (EU), £7,205 (Non-EU) plus College fee of approximately £1,400 (EU and Non-EU).
Application statusCourse full for current intake
Application deadlineFri 14 March 2014
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk.


MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology

Dr David Griffiths, Reader in Archaeology at Oxford University sums up the course as follows:

"If you share with me a passion for landscape, and an urge to find out how it has all come together and changed over time, then this course could be for you. The landscapes we experience in the UK and in every other part of the inhabited world are the products of human engagement and interference with the natural environment. Agriculture, industry, warfare, settlement and belief systems have all left their mark over the centuries. We can use and develop field and investigative skills to record and interpret these, and to tell the story of the landscape. Although we make most use of UK examples on our teaching, the course has no period or regional limits - meaning you can follow your own interests. Landscape Archaeology is all about being out there together, exploring the traces of our fascinating shared past.

Oxford is a wonderful place to study and it has unrivalled facilities. We have been running this part-time masters course successfully for eight years. The overwhelming impression gained from our students is one of satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment. We have brought together a good balance of men and women, older and younger students, historic environment professionals and those with a personal or community interest in the subject. We have had some great field experiences and outstanding seminars. Although the coursework requires a solid commitment from you over two years, the course atmosphere is informal and friendly, and we aim to support every student with ideas, guidance and encouragement.

I look forward to receiving your application. If you would like to discuss the course with me informally before applying, please email me on david.griffiths@conted.ox.ac.uk and I will arrange to see or telephone you."


The MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology is a part-time modular course over two years, leading to an Oxford University Postgraduate Degree in Archaeology. Students become fully matriculated members of Oxford University during their period of registration, and therefore also become a member of a college. 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 take their place alongside fieldwalking, historic landscape analysis, aerial photography and selective excavation to provide an 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.

This course is designed to appeal to those who already have experience of studying archaeology (or a closely-related subject) at undergraduate degree or 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.

Student quotes

I found the course both challenging and hugely rewarding, and the skills and knowledge I gained have made a significant contribution to developing my career within the archaeological profession.
Andrew Walsh, National Trust for Scotland archaeologist, St Kilda

I had the most enjoyable time during the 2 years reading for my MSc in ALA. The course is carefully designed covering all relevant aspects of landscape archaeology placing landscape analysis within a strong theoretical framework. I thoroughly enjoyed all modules from the Historic Landscape to Archaeological Prospection and in particular Digital Landscapes and GIS.
The Saturday sessions were very dynamic, delivered by well known scholars and gave a solid introduction to the various topics. After the sessions we would head to the pub where usually very animated discussions followed from what we had learnt. Field trips added considerably to the teaching sessions and the Field Training Week provided the perfect context for landscape analysis. We were able to put in practice various surveying techniques and learnt how to 'read the landscape'.
The resources of the Department are excellent, and I cherished the moments and the reading time I spent in many of the libraries the University has to offer. College life gave a perfect background for social networking. Throughout the course the atmosphere was very friendly resulting in long-lasting friendships; we keep in touch on a regular basis and we still manage to meet up twice a year!
During the course and through my dissertation I was encouraged to pursue my own research interests in Latin American archaeology and Mediterranean geoarchaeology. The MSc in ALA gave me confidence to further develop my personal research, leading to the presentation of a paper at an international conference.
Mariza Christina Kormann, East Riding Archaeological Society

This masters course provided me with an extremely useful range and depth of knowledge. Successfully completing it increased my professional confidence and self-belief enormously.
Sharon Bishop, Field Investigator , English Heritage

Programme details


The course is divided into two one-year modules, Year A and Year B, which are run in alternate academic years (from October to September):

Year A begins in October 2014
Year B begins in October 2015

All students attend both modules, but they may be done in any order depending on year of admission. Because the course is modular there is no advantage to one combination over the other. Students normally study two consecutive modules and this is regarded as the best way to experience the course. However, in exceptional cases, regulations permit a student to intermit between modules (by permission of the Board of Studies only).

Both one-year modules have one core paper and two advanced papers spread over three terms.

Year A:
• Core Paper: Method and Theory in Landscape Archaeology
• Advanced Paper (Artefacts and Ecofacts in the Landscape)
• Advanced Paper (Archaeological Prospection)

Year B:
• Core Paper: Managing Historic Landscapes in the 21st Century
• Advanced Paper (Digital Landscapes)
• Advanced Paper (Reading the Historic Landscape)
• Field Training Week

Instead of one advanced paper, students may choose to opt for a ‘flexi-placement’ comprising at least 14 days spread over approxi- mately one year to be spent working at an organisation which is involved in an aspect of landscape archaeology. The Course Director will supply details of these.

The dissertation (15,000 words) is the student’s own project which develops throughout the course and is submitted at the end of the second module. It can be based on a piece of fieldwork, or a methodological or artefactual study. Each student will be assigned a tutor who will supervise their dissertation. A dissertation workshop is held each year to help students work together on this essential course element.

In addition, once every two years (in late June - early July of Year B) a compulsory field survey training week will take place. Each student will also have a series of tutorials with the course director and tutors; these may take place in person or on-line.


All assignment titles, submission deadlines, reading lists, field visit and field work locations will be supplied when you have taken up your place. The course is based at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. Some classes may take place at Ewert House, Ewert Place, Oxford (the Department’s teaching annexe off Banbury Rd, Summertown, North Oxford).

Course Elements Applicable to Both Modules
Optional Flexi-Placements: Minimum 14 days within a period of not more than one year in terms 2 - 6 (by mutual arrangement of student and placement tutor).

Students will be given ‘real’ work within the organisations, and their placement project portfolios will be supervised by the placement tutors. Placements must be focused on a specific piece of original or semi- original research or development work within the programme of the placement organisation, eg a digital archive; a finds report; an analysis of a geophysical plot; a fieldwork report, to be presented as a practical portfolio. Text word limit: 5,000 words, equivalent to one Advanced Paper.

A dissertation must be a piece of independent research, and may involve fieldwork.

Induction Day Saturday, 11 October 2014
New students only. One Saturday including orientation session and field visit within Oxford.

Matriculation Ceremony Saturday 18 October 2014
Compulsory for new students; followed by college welcome and lunch. Your college will inform you of other dates in the college.

Teaching Sessions

Core Paper (2 x 2,500 word assignments)
Analysis of conceptual frameworks and research designs in landscape archaeology covering multi-period perspectives; one field visit.
Four Saturdays: 25 October, 8 November, 22 November and 6 December 2014.

Dissertation Workshop (all students) January 2015

Advanced Paper (1 x 5,000 word assignment)
Studying the ‘life-cycle’ of ceramics and lithics from geology, through quarrying, manufacture, distribution/trade, use, re-use, depositional and post-depositional processes in order to achieve in-depth spatial understanding of ceramic indicators in landscape research. Paleaoenvironmental research (one workshop day).
Four Saturdays: 31 January, 14 February, 28 February and 14 March 2015

Advanced Paper (1 x 5,000 word assignment)
Principles and applications of archaeological geophysics in landscape survey; other techniques such as LiDar interpretation.
Saturday16 May, Sat/Sun 30-31 May* (*please keep weekend 6-7 June free in case of weather-related postponement) and Saturday13 June.

Teaching Sessions

Core Paper (1 x 2,500 word assignment)
Management and conservation issues in landscape archaeology; Historic Landscape Characterisation; Agricultural Practices; one field visit.
Four Saturdays: 24 October, 7 November, 21 November and 5 December

Dissertation Workshop: Saturday 16 January 2016 (all students)
Advanced Paper (1 x 5,000 word assignment)
Introduction to GIS, application of, and training in, digital mapping, combined with database development to facilitate manipulation and dissemination of research output.
Four Saturdays: 30 January, 13 February, 27 February and 12 March

Advanced Paper (1 x 5,000 word assignment)
Integrated archaeological and documentary approaches to studying village and town formation, agricultural systems, communication, planned landscapes, parks and gardens, variations in landscape change over historical time; one field visit.
Four Saturdays: 30 April, 14 May, 28 May and 11 June

This runs from Saturday to Friday, 25 June - 1 July 2016. Location TBC

Selection criteria

There may be specific subject requirements for your course, so do check the selection criteria below. These will be used by the University in assessing your application.

Read full selection criteria

Assessment methods


This course is 100% continuous assessment: there are no written exami- nations. Each core paper consists of two 2,500 word assignments, each advanced paper consists of one 5,000 word assignment (or in the case of a placement, an equivalent-sized placement report); the field training week logbook and the 15,000 word dissertation complete the written requirements. At the end of the course, students attend a viva voce (oral) examination.

The total marks over the two-year programme are awarded as follows:
Core Papers 20% (10% each year)
Advanced Papers 40% (20% each year)
Field Week Logbook 5%
Dissertation 35%

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Teaching methods


David Griffiths (Director of Studies in Archaeology at OUDCE and Reader in Archaeology) has taught at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education since 1999, prior to which he was a full-time professional archaeologist. His period interests are early medieval, and he runs field projects in NW England, Wales and Orkney. http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/staff/academicstaff/profile.php?a=sbj&id=76

Tutors for individual papers include:

Alison MacDonald (Departmental Lecturer for the Archaeology programmes at OUDCE). http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/staff/academicstaff/profile.php?a=sbj&id=106

Tony Johnson (Research Laboratory for Archaeology, Oxford, and Oxford Archaeotechnics Ltd), an expert in practical survey and landscape geophysics.

Roger M. Thomas (Head of Urban Archaeology, English Heritage), a leading authority in archaeological resource management.

Dr Mike Allen FSA (one of the UK’s foremost palaeoenvironmental archaeologists) has taught on this course since 2010.

Apply for this course

How to apply

The University requires online applications. Paper applications are only acceptable in exceptional cases where it is not possible for you to apply online.

Application Form and Supporting Materials

The application form is obtained by going to the Application and Admissions procedure section of the online prospectus, at the Graduate Admissions Office. For a full explanation of application methods, see www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/apply.

Paper applications
If it is not possible for you to apply online, a paper application form can be requested from the Graduate Admissions Office. Please email the Graduate Admissions Office at: graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk or contact:

Graduate Admissions
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD
Tel: 01865 270059

Please note that in order to submit a paper application you must be able to pay the application fee by credit or debit card using our online store. If this is not possible, you may pay by cheque or bankers draft drawn on a UK bank account.

Completing your application
You will need to submit :

• Three references.
Note: If you anticipate having difficulty providing 3 referees who have an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for this Programme of Study, please contact the Award Programme Administrator for advice.
• Transcripts of previous higher education results.
Note: If it would be difficult for you to obtain transcripts of previous higher education qualifications because of the length of time since you studied or because you have substantial experience but not a degree, please contact the Award Programme Administrator before you submit your application. The transcript requirement can be waived in certain circumstances.
• Current CV/résumé.
• Two pieces of written work of approximately 2,000-2,500 words each.
• English proficiency score (if applicable).

Please note that supporting materials cannot be returned.

Application Deadlines
The closing date for the first round of applications is 24 January 2014 and for the second round is 14 March 2014. Applications will only be accepted after 14 March if places remain.

There is a video guide to the graduate admissions process at Oxford at www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/apply

Programme of Study
The six-digit course code for the part-time MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology is 000030. Tick M.Sc. by coursework.

Submitting your application

Your completed application form and supporting materials should be sent to:

Graduate Admissions
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD

If you have any questions about the progress of your application, please contact the OUDCE Award Programme Administrator (tel: 01865 270369 / 280154; email: ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk) or the Graduate Admissions Office (tel: 01865 270059; email: graduate.admissions@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Supporting Materials
A number of items of supporting material, described below, are required in addition to your application form. Your application cannot be considered without these materials, which should, apart from references, be submitted with your application form. If you are not enclosing any items which are required, you should add a note to say how and when the item will be sent to the Department.

Please note that supporting material cannot be returned; you should therefore only submit copies (authenticated by the institutional authorities in the case of transcripts) of any original material, such as important pieces of written work or transcripts, which you need to retain.

(a) References: If possible, at least two of your referees should have a knowledge of your relevant experience and recent studies, and should indicate the standard attained wherever possible. Non-academic references are acceptable if you are unable to provide academic references.

(b) Transcript: all candidates should submit with their application a detailed official record of their higher education achievements up to the present, including courses taken and standards achieved. Candidates from countries, including the United Kingdom, where transcripts are not universally issued, should ask the appropriate office in their institution (usually the Registry or, in the case of Oxford students, their college authorities) for an official record setting out in detail the elements of the course they have taken and, if possible, the standard achieved (or, in the case of Oxford graduates, a statement of marks achieved in individual honours papers). A document (such as a degree certificate) certifying merely that the applicant has been awarded a certain qualification does not meet this requirement, and is not called for at this stage of the admission process. If the policy of your institution is that the transcript should remain confidential, you should ask for it to be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office by the appropriate gathered field deadline. If your institution is unwilling to issue a transcript - which is more likely to be the case for a course you have not yet completed - you should indicate this on the application form. (Current Oxford undergraduates need not supply a transcript, but should indicate in the basis on which they are not providing one, and should ask referees to include in their reference any appropriate quantitative evidence, such as relevant marks in the first public examination.)

(c) Statement of Reasons for Study: all candidates should submit with their application a statement of their reasons for wishing to study at Oxford and to take the particular course they are applying for.

(d) Written work: two different pieces of your own recent written or published work are required to support your application, and should be submitted with your application form. The samples of written work may be two essays (such as seminar papers) or two sections of a longer work. Each sample should be of approximately 2,000-2,500 words in length. preferably typed, and must be in English. If any of the work you submit has been translated into English by someone other than yourself, you must clearly indicate this. The written work should be related to the subject you propose to study at Oxford and should provide evidence of your capacity to pursue successfully your proposed course of study. The work need not have already been subject to any academic appraisal.

(e) Certificate of proficiency in English: English is the language of instruction and students whose native tongue is not English must be sufficiently fluent in English to enable them to work without disadvantage. It is a condition of entry to graduate courses that, for non-native speakers, a certificate of proficiency in English should be obtained to confirm English proficiency. At present minimum required scores in the higher tests are 7.5 in the ELTS or IELTS (www.britcoun.org), or 630 in the TOEFL (www.toefl.org) test. Candidates to whom this requirement applies should make arrangements to take tests as early as possible, and to ensure that the certificated results are submitted with their application or as soon as possible thereafter.

College Affiliation
It is a requirement of Oxford University that Master of Science students are matriculated members of the University and one of its colleges. Applicants may wish to note that the majority of students on part-time degree programmes are members of Kellogg College and most of the tutors and lecturers are Fellows of the College. Kellogg is dedicated to graduate part-time students and has developed a unique expertise in attending to the intellectual, social, IT and welfare needs of part-time, mature graduate students. For these reasons you may wish to give special consideration to putting Kellogg as your first choice. If a college choice is not specified on your application, it will be automatically sent to Kellogg if places are still available there.

Fees in 2014-2015 comprise the following: University composition fee: circa £2,000 (EU) to be confirmed; £7,205 (non-EU) and the College fee: College fees vary and are not confirmed for 2014-2015 but the fee is likely to be approximately £1,400 (EU and non-EU). There may be a small fee increase for the second year of the course, 2015-2016.

Residency category
The level of tuition fees you pay (home-EU or non-EU) depends on your residential category.

If you are a non-European national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you may qualify for the home student fee, so long as you (or your spouse or parent) have been resident in the UK for the last three years for purposes other than full-time education.

Please note that UK/EU citizenship is not sufficient to be granted Home status, without also fulfilling the residence requirement. Students who have not been resident in the UK/EU for the last three years may be liable for the non-EU student fee. For a detailed classification of home-EU/non-EU status, please contact the OUDCE Student Adviser on 01865 280355 if you have any queries.

An offer of a place on the course will be conditional upon your demonstrating that you are able to meet the course fees.

For information on student funding, please visit our website: www.conted.ox.ac.uk and follow links to `students’ and `sources of funding’. You will find information on student loans, bursaries and Professional and Career Development Loans as well as details of external sources of funding. For further information on funding, see the Oxford Funding Search www.ox.ac.uk/feesandfunding/search.

Please read our Terms and Conditions and Student Contract before applying for this course.
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