Universiteit Leiden

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Archaeological Science (MSc)

Programme structure

Dive into the heart of archaeological science: explore the flora and fauna of bygone ages, study human bones and teeth, analyse the cultural biographies of material objects, or become an expert in the use of digital data in archaeological research.

Programme outline

35 ec

Career profile (3 courses) +  thesis

  • Current Issues in Archaeological Science
  • Data Analysis and Statistics
  • Specialisation course (options: Archaeobotany, Archaeozoology, Human Osteoarchaeology, Digital Archaeology, Material Culture Studies)
5 ec Scientific Methodology in Archaeology
10 ec Region Focus area  (2 courses)
10 ec Elective (2 courses)

Your career profile, region focus area, and thesis subject determine your specialisation and your eventual area of expertise.

Some of the courses

Scientific Methodology in Archaeology

This introductory course intends to provide an overview of key concepts and methods used in the archaeological sciences. As an introductory course to the MSc programme, this course will be based on lectures and the study of literature. Hands-on, practical courses will then be offered by the different specialisations within the MSc programme.


This is a practical course where you would apply and expand the knowledge and skills you gained in archaeozoology during your bachelor's programme. This course will complete your training in order to investigate a broad spectrum of faunal remains from archaeological sites and assemblages.


This is a graduate seminar in human osteology and paleopathology designed to further knowledge about what human remains can tell us about the past. This class is for students who already have comprehensive training in the identification and basic analysis of human skeletal remains. It will be necessary for students who are developing research topics for their Master’s theses in osteoarchaeology, and of value to students who want to acquire the knowledge necessary to undertake doctoral research that involves human osteology.

Digital Archaeology

Digital data and tools have become an indispensable element of current archaeological practice. Used correctly, they help to make the archaeological workflow more efficient, versatile, safe, and transparent.

But Digital Archaeology is more than that. This course also focuses on recent developments in computational methods and techniques, which open up new ways of investigating the human past that have a transforming impact on how we gain and share archaeological knowledge. Examples of these new approaches include:

  • Open science
  • Procedural modelling
  • Simulation
  • Remote sensing
  • Machine learning
  • Archaeogaming

Region Focus Areas

Within your Focus Area programme part, you may pick two courses of a region of your choice.

  • Hunter-gatherer Archaeology
  • Key developments in European Prehistory
  • Urban Archaeology
  • Neolithisation in the Near East
  • Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire
  • Environmental History of the Near East
  • Diversities of doing Greek. ‘Hellenisation’ and ‘Hellenism’ in ancient Eurasia
  • The Archaeology of Roman Imperialism in the Western Mediterranean
  • Archaeology of the Crusades
  • Mobility, interaction and colonialism in the Americas
  • Current issues in the Archaeology of the Americas

Complete overview

In the Prospectus you will find a complete overview and full course descriptions of the courses and focus areas Archaeological Science 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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