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MSc Maritime Archaeology

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

This course focuses on the principles of maritime archaeology of all periods within the broader international context and is delivered with the collaboration of renowned professionals from different parts of the world. With climate change creating long term alterations in the marine environment, this will be the first taught maritime archaeology course internationally to include units that address this issue.

The academic staff delivering this course have a wide range of expertise, supported by access to a wide range of technology to enable effective research in and out of the field. To read more about the academic staff and their expertise, please visit the academic staff page.

Master's degrees in sciences

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Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time

Relevant subjects:

Archaeology, history, marine science, conservation, professional practice, archaeology field investigation or heritage management

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:2 or above or equivalent in a relevant subject area or relevant comprehensive professional experience. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements

Course details

Semester 1

Core units

  • Ancient Ships: This unit aims to provide you with an understanding of, and some practical experience in, the construction, recording and analysis of the kind of ships and boats that are found in the archaeological record of North West Europe.

  • Applied Field Investigation: You will have the opportunity to plan, monitor, record and report on an element of an archaeological field project, in which you have taken a responsible role using the methods, practices and skills typically used within professional archaeological projects and research. Before undertaking the fieldwork, you will gain an understanding of how to plan field projects and produce an appropriate project design, including health and safety and budgeting aspects. Having completed a supervisory field project, you will produce a report to industry standards. A minimum of four weeks experience of working on an archaeological field project would normally be expected to undertake this unit.

  • Management of Archaeological Material: The aim of this unit is to provide you with the basic principles and understanding behind caring for, treating and curating artefacts from archaeological sites, with particular attention on finds from wet sites like marine or freshwater. Learning and teaching methods include introductory lectures on the problems and issues related to material from archaeological excavations, with a particular focus on waterlogged material. You'll also be given practical experience of stabilisation, excavation, in situ protection and recovering finds.

  • Maritime Archaeology: Gain an understanding of the principles and history of maritime archaeology. You'll gain knowledge of materials and site types in the maritime archaeological record and the principles and scope of maritime studies.

Option units

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.

You'll choose one of the following:

  • Techniques of Archaeological Recovery & Recording: Taking part in field work exercises and practical demonstrations gives you grounding in the methods involved in archaeological field recording and recovery. You'll learn about the principles of location, survey, excavation and the planning and recording of archaeological finds and features. You'll also learn about planning field projects, which covers health & safety and budgeting.

  • Marine Environment, Heritage & Spatial Planning: Environmental changes in the marine environment have affected the degradation and preservation of underwater heritage. This unit, which may involve field trips, will help you understand the effect of physical, chemical and biological damage to the historic environment and natural hazards to historical and archaeological sites in coastal and shallow marine environments. After completing this unit, you'll be able to manage in situ degradation and the protection of underwater archaeological sites, and appraise mitigation methods for preserving our underwater cultural heritage in situ.

  • Applied Maritime Archaeology: This unit is designed to take advantage of any maritime archaeological projects that BU may run in the future. To take part, you'll need at least World Confederation of Underwater Activities (CMAS) 2 Star diving qualifications.

  • Underwater Cultural Heritage: In Situ Degradation and Preservation: Gain a sound scientific knowledge and understanding of the principles behind degradation and preservation of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH). There will be a combination of theoretical study and practical applications, the study of different scientific methodologies, including an understanding of basic physical, chemical and biological processes in the underwater environment, in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Semester 2

  • Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.

Programme specification

​Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Maritime Archaeology.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For Maritime Archaeology we are looking for applicants who are:

  • Enthusiastic about learning and being in an academic environment
  • Passionate about maritime heritage
  • Hard-working and willing to engage in active research subjects
  • A team player and enjoy helping to develop others.

Candidates should intend to focus their work in one of the many avenues of maritime archaeological research which range from traditional archaeological research into the archaeology of seafaring, the archaeology of conflict at sea, the development of the ship, the management of underwater cultural heritage in situ and the protection of maritime archaeological material.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications – after the application has been evaluated a one to one meeting either in person, over the phone or Skype is necessary to have an understanding of the potential student as a whole. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU.

For more information, take a look at our how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this degree are:

  • Possession of a 2:2 degree or equivalent
  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (academic) 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

Career opportunities

There are many and varied professional opportunities for maritime archaeologists.

As an MSc Maritime Archaeology graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as: 

  • Marine archaeology
  • Museum curator
  • Underwater cultural heritage fellow
  • Marine data processor
  • Academic researcher.

Industries worked in

  • Maritime archaeology
  • Museums
  • Education
  • Academic research.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Additional information

Your career and development

Your career and development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

International students

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.