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MPhil in Archaeological Research

The aim of the MPhil in Archaeological Research is to provide Master's–level training in how to conduct research in archaeology. This MPhil is appropriate for students who have a clearly identified project and who wish to develop the research skills that will allow them to carry it out by means of independent, supervised research. It principally involves a substantial, research project (the dissertation) that enables the student to gain a broad knowledge base as well as to produce original results or insights in their field of interest.

Students are trained in the research process via supervised work in major stages of the process such as reviewing existing work, designing a research project, collecting data and analysing the data. Students are also given opportunities, through workshops and seminars to enhance their skills in writing, presentation, and formulating and analysing arguments.

The Structure

The structure of the MPhil in Archaeological Research includes three components: the Research Skills module (counted as 5% of the student’s final mark), a Research Paper of up to 6000 words (counted as 25% of the final mark) and a dissertation of up to 25,000 words (counted as 70% of the final mark).

The Research Paper

Students are required to submit a Research Paper which will be developed under guidance from the student’s supervisor. The Research Paper is an important milestone which helps students progress towards the dissertation and which allows early identification and correction of any problems with the proposed research.

It should not precisely duplicate elements which will ultimately be included in the dissertation; rather, it should present related research questions and explore the means of investigating them, providing a preliminary framework and exploration of feasibility of a similar topic. It should involve an element of original analysis and not simply be a review paper. Some suggestions for inclusion in this paper are:

  • Review and critical discussion of the conceptual and empirical background for the MPhil dissertation
  • Review of research already conducted on the topic of the dissertation
  • Presentation of the research resources to be used in studying the problem, both generally and in the research to be undertaken (sources of data or other information, methods used to study them)
  • Discussion of some potential outcomes of the research and their possible significance
  • Where appropriate, a pilot study or ‘proof of concept’ investigation of the feasibility of the project

The Dissertation

The dissertation is an extended piece of independent, original research. Students work with their supervisor to formulate a dissertation project, carry out research and write it up. The topic of the dissertation has to be approved by the Faculty Degree Committee; the dissertation is of maximum 25,000 words (excluding bibliography and appendices) and is due at the end of August; it counts as 70% of the student’s final mark.

Archaeology MPhil Degrees

Archaeological Research

For further information about this MPhil, please contact Prof John Robb.

Postgraduate Study at Cambridge