Archaeology of Death and Memory

MA / Postgraduate Diploma / Postgraduate Certificate

The Master's in Archaeology of Death and Memory is a unique, exciting, cross-period and geographically-broad postgraduate programme. It allows students to study and gain advanced expertise in the archaeological study of how past societies remembered and commemorated their own histories and mythologies.

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Campus Parkgate Road Campus, Chester
Course MA / Postgraduate Diploma / Postgraduate Certificate
Length 1 Year full-time; 2-3 Years part-time
Start date October 2016

The course explores the cross-disciplinary study of death, memory and material culture using cutting-edge archaeological theory and method. Students gain opportunities of investigate death and burial in both prehistoric and historic societies from Britain, Europe, Scandinavia and elsewhere across the globe. Students also explore the archaeology of the human body and the archaeology of memory through a diverse range of material cultures. The programme culminates in a research dissertation in which students can choose, design and investigate their own interest in the archaeology of death and memory.

Why study Archaeology of Death and Memory at Chester?

The MA in Archaeology of Death and Memory is taught by internationally recognised experts in mortuary archaeology and the archaeology of memory. The course gives students a firm foundation in groundbreaking research linking archaeology to a range of other disciplines including history, sociology, anthropology and theology. Students can build on their existing interests and gain in-depth knowledge of an exciting and dynamic field of archaeological research while learning about themes relevant to a range of other humanities subjects. Simultaneously, students develop a wide range of transferable advanced research skills equipping them for a range of careers and for further study towards a PhD in Archaeology.


This is the only Master's programme of its kind in the world. Nowhere else can Master's students explore in depth the archaeology of death and memory. While centred on archaeological theory and method, the programme is truly cross-disciplinary, exploring death and memory through a range of sources and disciplinary perspectives. The MA in Archaeology of Death and Memory provides a unique opportunity for students to debate and challenge their own views of what it means to be mortal, why and how we try to remember and forget the dead using a wide range of material cultures and how the human body – living and dead – is key to understanding the way societies work with memory.

Programme Structure

  • Research Skills in Archaeology and Heritage
  • Mortuary Archaeology
  • Archaeologies of Memory
  • Archaeologies of the Body
  • Research Dissertation

One further 20-credit module from the following:

  • Archaeological Heritage in Practice
  • Thinking Through Landscapes and Environments
  • Investigating Past Landscapes and Environments


A 20 credit module: Research Essay, may also available to students.


Each taught module will be assessed by means of written coursework of approximately 4,000 words, comprised of essays, reports, reviews and oral presentations. The Research Dissertation will be between 16,000 and 18,000 words in length.

Research Dissertation:

Students are required to conduct original research and write a dissertation on a topic of their choice, subject to the approval of their supervisors (equivalent to four modules). The dissertation is only applicable to those students completing the MA programme.

The MA Archaeology of Death and Memory offers students an opportunity to develop research and communication skills suitable for a range of careers in the archaeology, museum, and heritage sectors, as well as more widely in teaching and business.

The programme provides an excellent grounding in the current debates and approaches to the study of the human past from prehistory to the 21st century that will provide students with an ideal gateway to MPhil or PhD research.

A good, second class honours degree in any relevant discipline or an equivalent qualification is required. Credit exemption may be given for appropriate certificated or experiential learning undertaken or completed within the previous five years. Admission to the Master of Arts, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate programmes is by written application and interview.