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Archaeology - Human Osteoarchaeology

This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of and practical training in human osteoarchaeology: the analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts. Teaching focuses on the explanation of theoretical approaches and methods that can be used to address archaeological research questions using human skeletal data. Teaching consists of both lectures and lab-based practical sessions. You will benefit from the fact that the Department of Archaeology has a long tradition of research and teaching in human osteoarchaeology and will have the opportunity to engage in discussions with PhD students and staff, both in the classroom and outside. You will have an active role in shaping your own research project. The taught MA in Human Osteoarchaeology is a one-year, full-time, vocationally- orientated course. This provides both a basis for application in the work place and an opportunity for you to continue into PhD research.

Entry requirements

You will have an honours primary degree or equivalent with a minimum of 60% (2.1) in archaeology.

Candidates below this minimum mark who can demonstrate substantial professional experience in archaeology may also apply. It is possible for students who have a primary degree in a related subject to undertake a Higher Diploma in Arts (Archaeology). This qualification will enable prospective students to apply for this MA course — it will not, however, grant automatic entry to the MA.

Note: AR2038 (Human Remains for Archaeologists) and AR3040(Health, Diet and Disease in Early Societies) or equivalents are a prerequisite for this programme.

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please click here to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.


1 year Full-time

Careers or further progression

This course provides you with a thorough grounding in the practical and theoretical aspects of the study of archaeological human remains. Graduates from the course will be in a prime position to continue their education at PhD level or to seek employment with research, educational or commercial organisations. Since its first intake in 2004, the course has had an excellent completion rate and the majority of graduates have gone on to either work or study in archaeology.

Placement and Study Abroad Information
There are opportunities to participate in mortuary excavations in Ireland. There are also limited opportunities for placement and study abroad. Previous placements have been in Peru (dissertation fieldwork) and Britain (museum studies courses at Bournemouth University).

Further enquiries

Dr Barra Ó Donnabhain
P: + 353 21 490 4163

Subjects taught

For the first part of the year, you will be required to attend lectures, seminars, laboratory practicals and fieldtrips for seven modules. You will also choose a 20-25,000-word dissertation topic in consultation with staff. In the second part of the year, you will work on this dissertation for presentation in September.


AR6009 Mortuary Theory (5 credits)

AR6011 Biocultural Approaches to Human Remains (5 credits)

AR6012 Palaeopathology Seminar (5 credits)

AR6014 Osteoarchaeology Laboratory (10 credits)

AR6015 Quantitative Methods in Bioarchaeology (5 credits)

AN3006 Regional and Topographical Anatomy (10 credits)

AR6003 Dissertation (45 credits)

On completion of the course, you will be able to:
◾critically evaluate differing theoretical approaches to the study of archaeological human remains
◾understand and apply different methodological approaches to bioarchaeology
◾understand the use of quantitative methods and their applicability to research questions in bioarchaeology
◾correctly identify a range of pathological conditions which can be macroscopically identified on the human skeleton
◾successfully complete an independent research project in bioarchaeology.

Details of the programme content and modules are in the Postgraduate College Calendar


Course Practicalities
The bulk of teaching is carried out in Period 1, when lectures take place each morning, typically from 10am to 1pm. There are also some afternoon classes. One course, Anatomy, is taught over both Periods 1 and 2. All lectures, practicals and occasional field trips are mandatory. You are strongly encouraged to work in the Human Remains Laboratory outside class times throughout the year.

Unique Aspects of the Course
This is the only taught master’s course in human osteoarchaeology on offer in any of the universities in Ireland and since its inception in 2004, the course has trained many of those who work in the discipline in Ireland. A number of students have proceeded to PhD research and one has proceeded to graduate entry in medicine (GEM).

Assessment method

Taught modules are assessed by a variety of means including essays, in-class practical tests, seminar participation and presentations, laboratory notebooks, and MCQ examination. One course, Anatomy, has a written, end-of-year final exam. Fifty per cent of the total grade for the course is awarded for independent research: the dissertation which is due in mid-September.

Application date

Applications for 2017-18 intake are now open.

While UCC operates a rounds system for Postgraduate Taught courses (detailed below) we would advise you to apply as soon as possible.

Deadline for receipt of Applications: Offers will be made:

For all completed applications received by January 16th 2017 Offers will be made by January 30th 2017

For all completed applications received by March 1st 2017 Offers will be made by March 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by May 1st 2017 Offers will be made by May 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by July 3rd 2017 Offers will be made by July 17th 2017

Late applications may be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for any courses that have remaining capacity for places.

Non-EU Applicants:

Please visit the following page for further information for Non EU applicants

Course fee

2017/2018 Irish EU Fee: €6,000 Full-time

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 11 September 2017

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