Medieval History & Archaeology MA (Hons) 2021 entry
The MA (Hons) in Medieval History & Archaeology blends aspects of archaeology and material culture with a wide variety of medieval historical issues and geographic locations to suit different interests, whether that be in early Islamic Iran, the Britons and Saxons, medieval political thought, or queenship.
This course is predominantly concerned with the culture and society of medieval Europe and the Middle East, rather than with archaeological science.
Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAAB, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: AABB, including B in History
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAA, including A in History
Minimum entry grades: ABB, including B in History
Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6), including HL6 in History
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5), including HL5 in History
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language, you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.
St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The School of Classics and the School of History at St Andrews both have international reputations for the diversity of teaching programmes offered.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2020 as 92.7% of St Andrews final-year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
The MA (Hons) in Medieval History & Archaeology is a four-year course run primarily by the School of History, though training in archaeological principles and analysis is primarily given by archaeologists working in the School of Classics. The course focuses on the broad applications of archaeology to history and culture, and the physical remains of past societies, rather than formal or professional training in archaeological science.
During your first two years of study, you will typically take the modules offered by the Medieval History MA single Honours degree. Aspects of archaeology and material culture are integrated into these sub-honours modules; some modules include specific archaeological segments and topics and offer the choice to conduct assessed work on archaeological themes. The emphasis during this time is in learning to use archaeological and historical sources together.
In the first year of your studies, you will be required to study three subjects. In the second year you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.
At Honours level, you undertake advanced training in archaeological principles and analysis and choose from a wide range of modules that are largely or entirely archaeological in content.
The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.
Staff within the University occasionally conduct active fieldwork programmes. When these programmes are running, students are encouraged to apply for placement. If they are not running, every effort is made to help students find a place on an archaeological project.
In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), there are no separate modules in archaeology at this level; instead, archaeology is taught as an integral part of approaches to understanding ancient and medieval societies.
Students will take the following compulsory first-year modules:
The Fall of Rome and the Origins of Europe (400-1000): examines how political, cultural and social life changed in the Byzantine, British and ‘barbarian’ worlds in response to major upheavals.
Scotland and the English Empire 1070-1500: compares and relates the societies of the English crown and the kingdom of Scotland in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England.
Students take the following compulsory second-year module:
Medieval Europe (1000 – 1400): examines key themes that helped to shape continental Western Europe from the aftermath of the Carolingian Empire and beginning of the Crusades to the Black Death and the Hundred Years War.
You will also choose at least one from the following:
History as a Discipline: Development and Key Concepts: provides an introduction to key theoretical and methodological approaches which have characterised the emergence of history as a discipline since medieval times.
Introduction to Middle Eastern History: provides an introduction to Middle Eastern history from the dramatic reconfiguration of the Middle East in late antiquity to its contested and contentious recent past.
Mediterranean Communities: deals with the human settlement and material culture of the entire Mediterranean world throughout classical antiquity.
Scotland, Britain and Empire (c. 1500-2000): provides an introduction to how and why the British nation-state evolved from the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland and how and why it has survived over the last three centuries.
If you choose to take Medieval History & Archaeology in your third and fourth years, you will take the following compulsory third-year modules:
Archaeological Methods: explains modern archaeological methods, introducing the techniques available to researchers for investigating archaeological sites.
Principles and Techniques in Archaeology: provides an induction to the practical conduct of archaeology and how it affects the results of excavations and surveys, and an in-depth introduction to key archaeological topics and theories.
You will then choose from a variety of advanced options which incorporate archaeology into the study of ancient and medieval civilisations and cultures, focusing on topics such as castles, cities and urbanisation, networks, ancient art and sculpture, and the Bronze Age civilisations of the Aegean.
Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered in previous years:
Art of the Roman Empire
Early English Society, Southumbria c.600-850
From Pompeii to Aquileia: the Archaeology of Roman Italy (50 BCE – 300 CE)
In the Footsteps of the Ancients: Exploring the Archaeology and Topography of Greece
Legal Cultures in Late Antiquity
The Ancient City of Rome
The Roman Army.
In fourth year, students have the option of undertaking a dissertation of about 10,000 words on an approved topic in archaeology. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.
The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.
Teaching at sub-honours level is delivered primarily through lectures (120 to 200 students) and small group tutorials (5 to 7 students). Lectures are given by all members of the School of History, enabling students to hear active researchers in each field talk about their specialism. Tutorials are an opportunity for students to discuss and develop their thinking in a small and friendly atmosphere, guided by a professional expert.
Teaching at Honours level moves away from large group lecturing. Students meet in groups of about 10 to 15 students for longer classes in which they are expected to participate fully.
When not attending lectures and tutorials you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:
working on individual and group projects
undertaking research in the library
preparing coursework assignments and presentations
preparing for examinations.
You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of medieval history. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.
In addition to your studies, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.
During your Medieval History & Archaeology degree, you will be assessed by a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework includes:
Classroom examinations often incorporate essays and source exercises. In addition, many modules include a written examination held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.
The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.
Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.
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Archaeology courses at St Andrews do not provide the full training in British archaeology appropriate for someone set on working in professional or commercial archaeology in the UK. Nevertheless, recent graduates have gone on to work as professional archaeologists while others have taken professional qualifications in museum studies.
Popular career areas for students who have taken Medieval History & Archaeology include:
libraries and information
museums and galleries
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Archaeology students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Archaeology students may be interested in joining the following societies:
History Society hosts talks with guest speakers on a variety of topics as well as social events including pub nights, garden parties and trips abroad.
The School of Classics is housed in Swallowgate, an attractive building which overlooks the sea and is close to the University Library and main quadrangle. Students will typically attend archaeology tutorials, seminars and meetings with tutors in this building, while larger lectures are held nearby in St Salvator’s.
The School of History occupies three sites all within a few minutes’ walk of each other at the heart of the historic town of St Andrews. Students will attend medieval history tutorials, seminars and individual meetings with tutors in these buildings, while larger lectures are located in nearby buildings. The School of History sites are:
St Katharine’s Lodge, a 19th-century former school near the seafront
New Arts Building, a modern building with lecture classrooms and study spaces
St John’s House, located on South Street.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh makes it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).
Discover Uni provides official statistics about higher education courses taken from national surveys and data collected from universities and colleges about all their students. You can use this data to compare information for different degree programmes to help you make a decision about what and where to study.