In this MSc course, you will learn how archaeological science provides fundamental insights into the ways humans have transformed natural materials, from the Palaeolithic to the Industrial Revolution.

Archaeological Science is fundamentally concerned with humanity’s engagement with the material world. The study of archaeological remains through the lens of geology, chemistry, and materials science not only illuminates the early development of technologies that are fundamental to the modern world, it also helps us understand how people thought, how their societies were organised, and how they interacted. The techniques of materials analysis are also vitally important in many cases of forensic importance, especially those involving the illicit antiquities trade and the other heritage crimes.

This course is intended to give you a firm grounding in the principles and practice of Archaeological Science research. We cover both the natural science fundamentals necessary for analysing archaeological objects, as well as the research landscape around key archaeological themes relevant to these investigations. Key themes include innovation, technology, exchange, craft production, consumption patterns and interaction.

You will develop hands-on experience with the wide range of approaches scientists use to study the past, from, from the laboratory analysis of artefacts to the experimental recreation of traditional technologies.


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationMSc - Full -time: 11 months; Part-time: three years
  • DeliveryBy written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and oral exam.
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

The course provides you with wide-ranging exposure to laboratory techniques, analytical approaches, and research topics in archaeological science. The course emphasises active, hands-on learning, aiming to produce archaeological scientists with a strong background in both the fundamental science and its application to archaeological questions.

We welcome students interested in archaeological science from a wide range of backgrounds, with first degrees in the social and natural sciences.

Why this course?

After completing this MSc course will be able to:

  • Construct an appropriate analytical or experimental strategy to analyse a range of different kinds of archaeological materials
  • Develop practical skills involved in preparing and analysing samples of common organic and inorganic archaeological materials
  • Critically assess published research on Archaeological Science topics, with respect to data quality, research design, and logic of argumentation.
  • Debate key issues in Archaeological Science research, linking these issues with themes of relevance to the broader disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, and history.
  • Collect a wide range of data using both analytical and experimental approaches.
  • Analyse, distil, and present a variety of archaeological data (visual, spatial, numeric) to present compelling arguments
  • Design and implement a research project yielding a publishable paper on an Archaeological Science topic.

Course details

In this section


Course delivery

By written and practical examinations, continuous assessment, project presentation and oral exam.

Individual project

The individual project takes four months from April to August.

You can select from a range of titles, or may propose your own topic. Most are practically or experimentally based using Cranfield’s unique facilities.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's leading experts with capability expertise, industry knowledge and collective subject research, as well as external speakers from industry and defence. The Course Director for our MSc in Archaeological Science is Dr Nathaniel Erb-Satullo. The teaching team includes:

Your career

Prepares you to work in the field of forensic archaeology or anthropology within forensic laboratories, police departments, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, museums, commerical archaeological companies and universities. It is also a necessary introduction that could lead into conducting research at PhD level in the subject.

How to apply

To register your interest, please use the button below. If you'd like to speak to a member of the admissions or course team then use the 'Get in touch' details at the top of the page.