Postgraduate taught 

Material Culture & Artefact Studies MSc/PgDip

Background and aims

Background and aims

Chair made of horseshoes

Running since 2006, this course is designed to provide a broad grounding in the fields of artefact and material culture studies. You will be introduced to the specialist skills of archaeological finds analysis and related topics pertaining to the study and care of artefact collections. In addition to a strong practical element, the course also develops a theoretical awareness of the complexities of interdisciplinary material culture studies and related professional issues in the management and curation of cultural materials. Overall, this course will prepare you for a future career in the specialist field of artefactual analysis as well as the demands of the wider heritage and cultural resource sector with respect to material culture. At MLitt level, the two strands to the course enable you to prepare for  doctoral research or further academic study whilst also providing opportunities for valuable vocational experience in a commercial environment or voluntary sector organisation.

The value of the MLitt Material Culture and Artefact Studies programme is recognised by the Scottish Funding Council. The programme is in receipt of several funded scholarships in acknowledgement of its vocational strengths and for offering specific training for future archaeological specialists and object-based researchers.

The strong vocational training and practical strand of the MLitt are made possible through the option of work placement with a choice of excellent partners operating in both the commercial and heritage sectors, which have included in the past GUARD Archaeology Limited, Glasgow Museums, National Museums Scotland, and the Hunterian Museum.

The wealth of experience gained from the work placement will advantageously poise students upon graduation with the skills, training, and knowledge necessary to function within a commercial unit, or heritage body as a material culturalist specialist.

For those whose goals are focused on continuing their postgraduate level education onward and upwards into a Phd programme--as have many past graduates of the programme--the strength the Material Culture and Artefact Studies programme lies with the duality of focus on the practical applications and theoretical underpinnings of the study of material culture and artefacts. Thus, the Mlitt provides an invaluable academic grounding of the study of material culture, material heritage, and the display and presentation of artefacts as a speciality at the postgraduate level, laying a framework of how we as archaeologists interpret, examine, and interact with material culture in multiple different facets. For the Phd inclined, this path will culminate in the production of an Mlitt dissertation on an agreed upon topic with your course convenor.

Whether your foresee your path taking you directly into the commercial or heritage sector, or further into higher education with the application to a PhD programme, the Material Culture and Artefact Studies will allow you the ability to tailor your programme experience your ideal next career step, with the ability to choose from a wide variety of optional courses the in the spring term that will fit and compliment your goals as a postgraduate student, whatever they may be. Furthermore, all of the Mlitt programmes in Archaeology at the University of Glasgow are strongly interdisciplinary and interconnected, both within and without the subject areas. Our relationships and cross-displinary teaching with various different subjects, including Museum Studies, Art History, and the Celtic and Viking Programme, to name but a few, means you will be exposed to a wealth of different strands of thought, interpretation and approaches, as well as forging linkages and relationships with a wide range of leading experts throughout many other disciplines outside Archaeology, all of whom are undertaking leading research within their fields.

The wealth of experience and knowledge provided by the interdisciplinary nature and focus of the Material Culture and Artefact Studies Programme, as will as the networks and relationships developed during their time here, has stood past graduates of the programme in good stead upon graduation. Past graduates have found full-time positions with Historic Scotland, Headland Archaeology Ltd, Guard Archaeology Ltd. Others are working with various heritage organisations and some are continuing with their postgraduate studies.

 Several of our international graduates have found employment working at the Smithsonian, Washington D.C and at the Pink Palace Museum, Memphis Tennessee. Others continue to work in the Cultural Resource Management sector. Several students have gone on to further doctoral research at Glasgow University and beyond on prehistoric stone tools, Shetland lace knitting, Neolithic monumentality and human remains. 


Students working on ceramics in the Department




Products of experimental flint-knapping





8th-century pin from Tirefour broch, Lismore, Scotland





Practical class looking at pottery