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Immerse yourself in the material culture of Europe’s past

Theory meets practice in this unique Archaeology programme that’s offered jointly by the VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam. You’ll benefit from a strong theoretical focus as well as practice-oriented modules in which you’ll interpret field data and study archaeological materials first-hand.

Programme structure

The programme is made up of four core courses (24 EC), three research labs (18 EC), and your Master’s thesis (18 EC)

Core modules

The objectives of the core modules are to deepen the understanding of concepts and methods in archaeology. These courses cover broad themes illustrated with case studies from European and Mediterranean archaeology.

  • Period 1: Historical Archaeology: Theories and Concepts
  • Period 2: Cutting Edge Archaeology: Human Mobility or Archaeology, Museums and the Public
  • Period 4: Digital Practice in Archaeology
  • Period 5: Archaeology, Heritage and Society

Research labs and specialisation

Modules with the explicit objective to acquire research skills and to work in a small team are taught in Research Labs 1-3. The first two are specialisation classes related to research projects by ACASA Archaeology staff and focus either on European or Mediterranean archaeology. The third Research Lab may take the form of an individual research assignment or an internship. Internships can be offered in collaboration with the Allard Pierson Museum, the City of Amsterdam, Dutch Heritage Institutions or the 4D Research Lab. It is also possible to connect the Research Labs to the research of your Master’s Thesis (Blocks 4-6) in order to specialise thoroughly.

Thesis

The Master’s thesis is an important part of the programme, enabling you to conduct original research under the supervision of one of the staff members. The subject of the thesis must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the academic adviser. A Master thesis seminar is offered to prepare you for the assignment. Thanks to the cooperation between the two universities a wide array of topics are available for supervision.

The study programme

In your first semester, you’ll take two courses to get you acquainted with archaeology and its most recent developments in theory and research. The first course introduces you to historical archaeology. Since our research and teaching focus on periods for which textual evidence is important, familiarity with the theories and methods of historical archaeology is required. The second course focuses on cutting-edge archaeological research on the issue of human mobility, of both voluntary and forced migration, studied from multiple sources and angles. At the same time, you’ll participate in two research labs and do an individual research assignment or a short internship. The two research labs focus on archaeological interpretation and the study of archaeological materials – you’ll work in small groups and report on your findings.

In your second semester, you’ll take courses to prepare you for the labour market:  Digital Practice in Archaeology, and Archaeology, Heritage and Society. You’ll finish the year by writing a Master’s thesis on a subject of your own choice.

Summary

If you decide to follow the European Archaeology track, you’ll focus more on the history of ancient Europe – from the Bronze Age until the Early Modern Period.

The structure of the programme is the same for both tracks.

However, you’ll specialise in European Archaeology during the research labs, which are separate for each track. With the explicit aim of developing your knowledge in your chosen area of specialisation, these tutorials are related to research projects by ACASA Archaeology staff members who are experts in European Archaeology. Your individual research assignment and Master’s thesis may also be on a topic of your choice within your area of specialisation.

Summary

If you decide to follow the Mediterranean Archaeology track, you’ll focus more on the history of the ancient Mediterranean world – from the Bronze Age until the Early Modern Period.

The structure of the programme is the same for both tracks.

However, you’ll specialise in Mediterranean Archaeology during the research labs, which are separate for each track. With the explicit aim of developing your knowledge in your chosen area of specialisation, these tutorials are related to research projects by ACASA Archaeology staff members who are experts in Mediterranean Archaeology. Your individual research assignment and Master’s thesis may also be on a topic of your choice within your area of specialisation.

Natalie Park - Student

Natalie Park - Student

“Archaeology and Amsterdam? A perfect combination! You're surrounded by archaeology here! During the construction of the new metro line, for instance, many finds were made. As a student, you regularly visit the Allard Pierson Museum, where you study ancient materials while being surrounded by plaster copies of classical statues. During practical workshops, you study ceramics or glass finds in small classes tutored by very approachable staff.”

Practical experience and internships

The Archaeology and Heritage in Practice course is an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience through your individual research assignment. Internships are also on offer – you can benefit from our collaboration with the Allard Pierson Museum, the City of Amsterdam, Dutch Heritage Institutions or the 4D Research Lab.

Fieldwork

You’ll learn essential skills for doing fieldwork, including analysing, reporting and presenting field data, as well as managing fieldwork. You can develop these skills through an individual assignment at one of the UvA/VU Amsterdam’s current research locations in the Netherlands or in the Mediterranean, at fieldwork projects in Italy, Turkey or Greece. You can also do a fieldwork assignment in North-Western and Central Europe through research projects led by staff members. Archaeological fieldwork, which takes place in close cooperation with the local archaeological services and international partners, consists of excavations, field surveys, remote sensing, digital applications and landscape analysis.

Change your future with the Archaeology programme

Change your future with the Archaeology programme

Having graduated with a Master's degree in Archaeology, you’ll be well prepared for a broad range of career opportunities. You could work for local, national or international heritage management agencies, or you could start your career in the broader cultural heritage sector, including museums, archives, journalism or cultural tourism. Alternatively, some of our alumni have gone into sectors unrelated to their studies, like IT, banking or business administration.

Explore your future prospects

Want to know more?

For questions about the Master's Programme, contact the programme coordinators: