Archaeological Studies MLitt

Course code V490

What is special about this course?

This course is unique in its focus on the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It offers the opportunity to consider wider archaeological concepts and theoretical issues, utilising world-class sites in Orkney and the North Atlantic region.

The MLitt Archaeological Studies will enable you to engage critically with current themes and debates in archaeological practice, theory and method.

There are a wide range of module options which draw on the research specialisms of the Archaeology Institute staff and these provide you with the flexibility to combine taught modules and dissertation research according to your own research interests.

You can develop chronological specialisms grounded in the archaeology and heritage of the region, for example in Prehistoric Archaeology or in Celtic through to Viking/Norse and Medieval Archaeology. Or you may choose to combine period-based modules with our professional skills modules to gain a broader knowledge and understanding of the diversity of methods and theory practiced within archaeology. 

Special features

  • Study in the outstanding archaeological landscape of the Orkney Islands
  • You will be taught by internationally recognised experts in the field and take advantage of cutting edge research, taking place at world-renowned sites including the Ness of Brodgar World Heritage site excavations
  • A suite of residential and/or practical modules in excavation and post-excavation approaches is available to those who choose to study on campus
  • You can also study from your own location, studying online and by video-conference, in real-time or recordings - see study mode tab for more information
  • You can study individual modules for personal or professional development, or work towards the PgCert, PgDip, or full Masters degree
  • The course offers preparation for specialised research at PhD level

Entry requirements

  • 2:2 Honours degree or above in archaeology or a relevant subject, or equivalent academic or professional qualifications

Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) (Scotland-domiciled and EU students)

Loans for tuition fees are available from SAAS for eligible Scotland-domiciled and EU students, and loans for living costs for eligible Scottish students.

(see fees/funding tab for more information)

Access routes

Students can access the programme from a range of UHI undergraduate programmes including:


Core modules are:

  • Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands
  • Research and dissertation skills

You will also choose one option module listed under the PgDip.


Option modules, from which you must choose three, may include:

  • Death and burial archaeology
  • Vikings and Norse in the North Atlantic
  • Neolithic studies
  • From Vikings to VE Day: Scottish Medieval and later society
  • Iron Age Scotland in the Atlantic World
  • Archaeological and geophysical survey
  • Maritime archaeological heritage
  • Digital heritage
  • From archaeology to archaeozoology
  • Excavation: includes a field school in the summer at a site location off-campus
  • Art and archaeology: contemporary theory and practice
  • Runology and Old Norse


To achieve the MLitt award you must complete a research dissertation.

How will I study my course?

  •  Full-time
  •  Part-time (structured)


  • You will learn through a combination of video conference seminars and tutorials and online study via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors and student advisor
  • You can also study from your own location, studying online and by video-conference, in real-time or recordings
  • International students on a Student Route study visa must be based at UHI Orkney during their studies
  • Assessment is by a variety of methods including essays, reports, presentation, project, practical portfolio, dissertation
  • For more information, or if you have any questions about studying archaeology at the University of the Highlands and Islands, please contact us at:

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year @ 35 hours per week
  • Part-time: 2 years @ 17.5 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • HTC
  • Inverness
  • North, West and Hebrides - Stornoway campus
  • Orkney College UHI
  • Perth

Start date

  • September
  • January (part-time study only)


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying full-time can access loans up to £10,000 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). This comprises a tuition fee loan up to £5,500 and a non-income assessed living cost loan of £4,500. 

Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying part-time can apply for a tuition fee loan from SAAS. You must be intending to complete the course in no longer than twice the length of time it would take for a full-time student. For example, if your course is available to full-time students as a one-year programme, you will be funded for a maximum of two years' part-time study. If your course does not have a full-time option, you must complete within three years. You can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5,500, which will be paid pro-rata for each academic year of study. 

Full details can be found on the SAAS website. Applications for loans open in April.

Students from the rest of the UK who meet the eligibility requirements may be able to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company.

Additional costs

A suite of residential and/or practical modules in excavation and post-excavation approaches is available to those who choose to study on campus. You will be responsible for covering the costs of any travel and accommodation associated in your participation in the residential modules.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed this course you might wish to consider careers in the following areas:

  • Professional archaeology in a variety of capacities including contract archaeology, consultancies, local authorities and museums
  • Tourism, heritage sites, national and countryside parks
  • Secondary school teaching on completion of a PGDE(S)

Can I progress into further study?

You may wish to consider further study such as:

  • Advanced research and vocational diplomas
  • PhD study

Is there more information available online?

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I'm currently studying on the university's MLitt Archaeology. My research focuses on historical sound by looking into stone circles and the way they interact with their local soundscapes. I am also trying to organise a multiple discipline research team to analyse how research from different backgrounds can come together to offer a new perspective into sites that have been traditionally observed through archaeology and history stances.

Having successfully completed our BSc (Hons) Audio Engineering, Keith Harvey has progressed on to the MLitt Archaeology at our Perth College UHI campus.

I knew I wanted to work in archaeology and pursue a PhD in pre-historic archaeology. I have such a diverse range of interests that this course has helped me to define and create some clear future research goals. The opportunities I had to volunteer with Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) were unparalleled. It was amazing to work with a company who leads in the field when it comes to coastal archaeology and recording.

Erika Sutherland studied full-time on the MLitt Archaeological Studies at the UHI Orkney campus and moved from Vancouver, Canada, to study with us because of the rich archaeology in Orkney and the research activities at the Archaeology Institute.

The Archaeology Institute combines the academic and scholarly prowess of the teaching team, who are based across the Highlands and Islands, with the professional and applied skills of the consultancy field unit, Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA). We are the only Scottish university with an archaeology teaching department to have such a dynamic ‘in-house’ relationship with the archaeology industry. This ‘real-world’ professional insight means that added value is given to the student experience.

Martin Carruthers, Curriculum Leader for Archaeology and Programme Leader for MSc Archaeological Practice and MLitt Archaeological Studies, talks about the benefits of studying archaeology with the university.

Apply for Archaeological Studies MLitt

I want to start in Jan/Feb 2024

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.