Postgraduate taught 

Material Culture & Artefact Studies MSc/PgDip

Heritage Material Science ARCH5119

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces students to the key practical skills, methods and approaches necessary to undertake scientific analysis on cultural heritage materials. It supports the development of skills in analytical strategies, techniques and technologies to evaluate material properties and use the resulting information for independent reporting on cultural materials.


Mondays 10.00-12.00 weekly

Excluded Courses





Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Heritage Science Report (2500 words) - 60%

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Introduce students to key methodologies and instrumentation for scientific analysis of cultural materials and enable students to develop critical understanding of contemporary practice.

■ Enable students to analyse and record microscopic material, environmental evidence and archaeological artefacts including from museum collections, active and legacy projects.

■ Explore how materials science-based knowledge is integral to archaeological professional practice and used to inform understanding of human experience in the past and present.

■ Develop students' knowledge and understanding of research surrounding materials science and support students in becoming critical independent thinkers and researchers.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Identify relevant standards, safe laboratory practice and risk assessment, conventions, instrumentation, and methodological approaches to science-based analysis of cultural materials.

■ Apply scientific research strategies for archaeological artefacts and cultural materials including designing appropriate scientific analysis, conservation strategies, and graphical presentation for the creation of qualitative reports.

■ Apply materials science approaches to develop integrated understanding of the microscopic and macroscopic archaeological record.

■ Encourage the development of independent skills in science-based materials analysis.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.