Universiteit Leiden

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Archaeology (Research MA)

Programme structure

The two-year programme is a challenging combination of general advanced courses, practical modules such as teaching assistance and conferences/workshops, a personal course profile, and research.

Programme outline

As a research master's student you will follow a general theoretical course each year, and deepen your knowledge of chosen subjects through the modular advanced courses and in the annual research seminars, finally resulting in the thesis, thus embodying our concept of research-driven education. Students gain solid research skills while studying the methodological, theoretical and academic-philosophical aspects of the research focus of choice.

First year

5 ec Advanced Archaeological Theory / Advanced Scientific Methodology
5 ec Teaching assistance 1
5 ec Conferences and workshops (ARCHON)
15 ec Research and thesis
5 ec Advanced Themes in Archaeology
10 ec

RMA research seminar

10 ec Modular course (from MA)
5 ec Elective

Second year

5 ec Epistemology of archaeology
5 ec Teaching assistance 2
5 ec Conferences and workshops (ARCHON)
20 ec Research and thesis
10 ec RMA research seminar
10 ec Modular course (from MA)
5 ec Elective

Some of the general courses

Advanced Archaeological Theory

This course gives an overview, selective and by no means exhaustive, of what archaeological theory is currently about. You will read and reflect upon a recent handbook that provides something of a ‘state of the art’ of the philosophy of science. Note, however, that the handbook chapters are conceived here as points of departure for the individual lectures and associated readings that may wander in very different directions across the contemporary theoretical scape.

Conferences and Workshops at ARCHON

ARCHON, the Dutch research school of Archaeology, initiates, organises and supports a programme of educational activities in close collaboration with its participating institutions (University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, University of Groningen, Leiden University, and the State Service for Cultural Heritage).

The programme includes conferences, lecture series, thematic workshops, multi-and interdisciplinary courses and skill courses for RMA-students, PhD-researchers and staff members of the participating institutions. The intent is to create a platform for inspiring academic debate on current archaeological research.

Teaching Assistance

The RMA is a first step in an academic career. Besides research skills, academic positions require teaching skills as well.

In this course, you provide active assistance in the undergraduate World Archaeology course for first-year archaeology students, and in this way you gain your first teaching experience. The tutorial is characterised by blended learning: feedback is given partly during the tutorial and partly online.

Epistemology of Archaeology

This seminar focuses on presuppositions, research and debates regarding violence and conflict. Is (living) nature basically a ‘Hobbesian’ struggle for life, conflict a strong selective force in evolution, and human nature essentially violent? Recent views stress the opposite (cf. Fry ed. 2013), but are controversial. We will depart from a number of passages from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1652).

RMA thesis

The RMA thesis is the final masterpiece that shows that you can write, plan and execute an innovative academic research project that may serve as a basis for ongoing PhD- research. The research is based on data derived from material culture, fieldwork, laboratory research, or historic sources and additional academic literature. It is researched and written over the course of two years and should be related to your focus area.

Research Seminars

In each year, you will choose one Research Seminar from the following list:

  • Archaeology of Hominin Diversity
  • Archaeology of Marginal Landscapes
  • Communicating Communities
  • Heritage and Museum Studies
  • Taphonomy
  • The Deep History of European Societies
  • The Visual Power of Objects in Antiquity: Meaning, Materiality, and Style
  • Post-Classical (Mediterranean) Archaeology: The Rise of New Societies

See the Prospectus for more information on the Research Seminars. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Complete overview

In the Prospectus you will find a complete overview and full course descriptions of the courses and focus areas Archaeology (research) has to offer. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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