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Graduate Studies

Mesopotamia at CambridgeCuneiform

Graduate Studies in Mesopotamia at Cambridge


Cambridge has a vibrant and supportive environment for graduate research into Mesopotamia, at the MPhil and PhD level. We offer two different MPhil degrees: one with a substantial taught component for students early in their exploration of the languages and culture of the region, and one more research-intensive for those with significant prior knowledge and a well-developed research idea. We also supervise a wide range of PhD topics in archaeology, culture, languages, and history of Mesopotamia.

Admission to the University of Cambridge for graduate degrees (M.Phil.s and Ph.D.) is handled through the Board of Graduate Studies. You are, however, very welcome to write directly to the Graduate Administrator at the Division of Archaeology, or directly to any of the teaching officers, for information and advice about the academic content and structure of the courses and about your research ideas and interests.


Masters Degrees

One-year M.Phil. courses

The 1-year M.Phil in Assyriology aims both to introduce students with little or no previous experience of the subject to the study of ancient Mesopotamia and to allow those already with some knowledge of the region's archaeology or languages to enhance this by studying one or more aspects to greater depth.

The course consists of three modules and a dissertation, allowing a fully-rounded approach to the subject. For those with no Akkadian, there is a module in Elementary Akkadian, which involves learning the language, grammar and most popular scripts and reading basic cuneiform texts. For those who already have a year or more of Akkadian, there is a module in Advanced Akkadian language and texts; the course also offers the opportunity to learn Sumerian. Additional modules cover Mesopotamian literature, religion & science, archaeology of Mesopotamia, and advanced topics in history and archaeology. Assessment for each module is through essays during the year and/or written examinations in June, with the dissertation due at the end of August. This course is considered a research degree, as more than 50% of the course assessment is based in your dissertation (50% in itself) and research essays (33-100% of some modules).

For full details, please see the Division of Archaeology Assyriology MPhil webpage.

The Division of Archaeology also offers an MPhil by Research. Assessment is primarily based on an extended dissertation. Applicants should have a well-developed proposal for independent research at application, as well as substantial existing knowledge of the region.  For full details, please see the Research MPhil page.

PhD Research

We welcome applicants to undertake independent research into ancient Mesopotamian social and economic history, languages and literatures and into the prehistoric and historic archaeology of Mesopotamia and its neighbours. The PhD at Cambridge is a 3-year degree, and doctoral students should be in a position to begin research at the beginning of their course. PhD students are not required to attend lectures or take exams, although attendance at selected lectures and seminars is encouraged.

Your application for PhD admission should include a research proposal outlining your research question, methdology, theoretical approach and dataset; please feel free to write to the teaching staff before applying, to discuss your ideas. You are also encouraged to look at the Research page for information on current research projects to which you might contribute.


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