Higher Diploma

Higher Diploma in Archaeology 2020/21

A one-year full-time programme for non-Archaeology graduates who already have a degree, preferably in the area of Arts or Sciences, and wish to study archaeology intensively over one academic year. The programme is designed for those who:

  • Have an active interest in archaeology and want to undertake a full-time course of study.
  • Are currently employed in a branch of archaeology and wish to obtain an academic qualification in the subject.
  • Require a conversion course to apply for postgraduate study such as the one year MA degree course or the MPhil/PhD at UCC. Completion of the Higher Diploma course does not guarantee a place on a postgraduate course. Students are required to achieve a mark of 60% in the final diploma award to be eligible for postgraduate studies in Archaeology.
What do you study?

This is a full-time programme over one academic year during which the student will take courses in Archaeology to the equivalent of 60 credits (or 30 credits each year, part-time). The programme is made up of modules from the Second and Third Year courses in the undergraduate BA degree.

Students are required to take core modules to a value of 20 credits. The remaining 40 credits will be chosen by the student in consultation with the Higher Diploma Coordinator, having regard to timetable constraints and suitability of course combinations. Students with little previous knowledge of archaeology may also audit all or part of the First Year archaeology course (AR1001) if they so wish.

Closing date for applications is 01 September each year.

Higher Diploma 2020/21

60 credits required.

The following higher-level course modules on offer to Higher Diploma students. Three courses are compulsory and eight others are selected from a menu of options. With the exception of AR2045, these modules are taught in 6-week blocks over two 12-week Semesters, with the blocks numbered 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b.

Core Modules (compulsory) (20 credits)

Semester 1b

  • AR2016  The Development of Archaeological Thought (5 credits)

Semester 2a

  • AR2014  Artefact Studies (5 credits)

Semester 2a and 2b

  • AR2045  Introduction to Archaeological Fieldwork (10 credits)
Elective Modules (choose 8 modules: 40 credits required)

Semester 1a

  • AR2033 Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Europe (5 credits)
  • AR2034 The Archaeology of Early Medieval and Viking Britain (5 credits)
  • AR2038 Human Remains for Archaeologists (5 credits)
  • AR3039 The Archaeology of the Early Irish Church (5 credits)
  • AR3055 Transitions in Prehistory: Ireland in the Third Millennium BC (5 credits)

Semester 1b

  • AR2042  The Archaeology of Later-Medieval Ireland (5 credits)
  • AR2047 The Iron Age in Western and Central Europe (5 credits)
  • AR3037  The Viking World and Ireland (5 credits)
  • AR3054 Late Iron Age Ireland and the Roman World (5 credits)
  • AR3056  The Archaeology of Post-medieval Ireland (5 credits)

Semester 2a

  • AR3045 Industrial Archaeology of Ireland, AD 1750–1930 (5 credits)
  • AR3051 Wetland Archaeology and Palaeoenvironments (5 credits)

Semester 2b

  • AR2037 Introduction to Environmental Archaeology (5 credits)
  • AR2044 Heritage Management and Archaeology (5 credits)
  • AR3047  Professional Practice in Archaeology (5 credits)
  • AR3053 Landscape Archaeology (5 credits)
  • AR3061 Ireland’s Golden Age: Art and Craft AD 600–1200 (5 credits)

Important: The course programme is subject to change at the department’s discretion


Closing Date for Applications:  1 September 2020 (but best to apply earlier in summer)

Application and Course Information see

  • Full-time Higher Diploma in Archaeology is PAC code CKA03
  • Part-time Higher Diploma in Archaeology (over two years) is PAC code CKA19

Application queries should be directed to Postgraduate Admissions, Graduate Studies Office, North Wing Quadrangle, University College cork, Cork city.
Tel. 021-4902645; e-mail: m.coakley@ucc.ie

Contact the Department of Archaeology for further information.
E-mail: archaeology@ucc.ie; Phone: +353214904048
Course Coordinator: Professor William O'Brien; Email: w.obrien@ucc.ie 

Module Descriptions

AR2014  Artefact Studies
Co-ordinator: Professor WIlliam O'Brien
This module aims to give students an appreciation of archaeological artefacts and the skills involved in their curation and analysis. A number of case studies are discussed in lectures, while analytical and drawing skills are developed in practical sessions. A museum field-trip also forms part of this course.

AR2016  The Development of Archaeological Thought
Co-ordinator: Dr Barra Ó Donnabháin
The course present a survey of the theoretical contexts in which archaeological research is situated.  The emphasis is on the development and demise of Grand Narratives.  The implications for research of the shifting paradigms of the last century and a half are also considered.

AR2033  Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Europe
Professor William O’Brien
This course will examine developments in human society in western Europe from the Chalcolithic to the Late Bronze Age. The origins and early development of metallurgy will be considered. The thematic approach will explore the social and cultural context of human life in this period, drawing comparisons between developments in Ireland and other regions of Europe.

AR2034 The Archaeology of Early Medieval and Viking Britain
Mr John Sheehan and Tomás Ó Carragáin
The module considers the rich archaeological evidence for societies in Britain during the early medieval period. The first part focuses on the period between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Vikings. The second part considers the changes that occurred in the period c. AD 800-1100, with a particular focus on the impact of the Vikings. Themes considered throughout the module include ethnicity, identity and gender; daily life; agriculture and trade; the archaeology of kingship; and the evidence for both pagan and Christian rituals and beliefs.

AR2037  Introduction to Environmental Archaeology
Dr Ben Gearey
This module will introduce the student to the main aims and methods of bioarchaeological studies. The focus of the module will be on the two main components of bioarchaeology, namely the study of ancient plant remains and animal bones.

AR2038  Human Remains for Archaeologists
Dr Barra Ó Donnabháin
The principal objective of this practical course is to equip the students with the basic skills necessary to deal with human cranial remains that they might encounter in the course of archaeological fieldwork. The practical element of this course is built around imparting a detailed knowledge of the human skeleton and, in particular, the ability to identify fragmentary human skeletal remains in varying degrees of preservation. Legal and ethical issues concerned with the retrieval of human remains are discussed as are issues related to excavation and curation.

AR2042  The Archaeology of Later Medieval Ireland
Dr Colin Rynne
An overview of the archaeology of the period c. AD 1100- c. 1550. The main emphasis will be on the principal theoretical and methodological approaches applied to the study of settlement forms, economy, society and material culture in Ireland, in the later medieval period.

AR2044  Heritage Management and Archaeology
Dr Colin Rynne
This module examines several aspects of the heritage/cultural resource management of archaeology in Ireland. These include heritage education, conservation/regeneration, heritage interpretation, cultural tourism, the management of historic buildings and landscapes and role of heritage in the construction of identities.

AR2045  Introduction to Archaeological Fieldwork (10 credits)
Mr Nick Hogan
This course aims to introduce students to the principles and methods of archaeological field survey.  The student will be introduced to the different ways archaeologists collect survey information in the field. Topics covered include the organisation of archaeology in Ireland; the legal framework for Irish archaeology and heritage protection; documentary and map studies; and many different approaches to site investigation, from the use of aerial reconnaissance to geophysical survey. Students are required to carry out a field survey project. Fieldtrips are an integral part of the module. The course then moves on to examine excavation practice in modern archaeology, ending with an overview of underwater archaeology detailing its history and development.

AR2047  The Iron Age in Western and Central Europe
Dr Katharina Becker
To introduce students to the Iron Age of Western and Central Europe, providing an overview over the archaeology of contemporary communities from Ireland to Slovenia and Austria to Denmark as well as the main interpretative issues of the period.

AR3037  The Viking World and Ireland
Mr John Sheehan
This module begins with a brief introduction to the Viking Age and its background. The activities and impact of the Scandinavians in Ireland and Britain are then considered. Topics that are explored include regionalisms, economies and identity.

AR3039  The Archaeology of the Early Irish Church
Dr Tomas Ó Carragáin
This module begins with a detailed exploration of the process of conversion in Ireland in light of recent excavations. The principal aspects of ecclesiastical archaeology are then considered including the character and layout of ecclesiastical sites, the organisation of the Church, and ecclesiastical art and architecture. Similarities and differences between the Irish archaeological evidence and that in other areas of Europe are highlighted.

AR3045  The Industrial Archaeology of Ireland
Dr Colin Rynne
An overview of the archaeology of industry and industrial society in Ireland, in the period c.AD 1750-1930. The main emphasis will be on an introduction to the main theoretical and methodological approaches applied to the study of settlement forms, economy, society and material culture in Ireland in the later historical period.

AR3047  Professional Practice in Archaeology
John Sheehan and visiting speakers
This module will introduce students to the organization and practice of professional archaeology in Ireland. The organization and profile of archaeology is examined, as is the economic and societal environment within which the profession operates. The legislative and administrative aspects of State archaeology are considered in respect of the work of central and local government agencies, and the commercial environment of private sector archaeology is reviewed. The role of the museum sector is examined, as is the cultural heritage management and tourism sectors.

AR3051 Wetland Archaeology and Palaeoenvironments
Lecturer: Dr Ben Gearey
This module will introduce students to wetland archaeology, the archaeological study of wetlands including peat bogs, river floodplains and coastal environments.  It examines the importance of such contexts for the integrated study of archaeology and environmental archaeology. It will contrast the forms of information provided by wetland environments with terrestrial contexts and demonstrate the importance of information from both contexts for an integrated understanding of past human activity. The module will highlight the particular methodological approaches to investigating wetland sites.

AR3053 Landscape Archaeology
Prof. William O'Brien, with staff lectures
This module provides a general introduction to the theory and methodologies of landscape archaeology, with particular reference to recent research in Ireland. The lectures will explore different theoretical perspectives that can be applied to an understanding of ‘landscape’ in archaeology, and also the approaches employed in the analysis of these locations. Students will be introduced to different landscape types through case-studies drawn mainly from research in the Department of Archaeology. The module concludes with fieldwork in the archaeological landscape of Lough Gur, Co. Limerick.

AR3054 Late Iron Age Ireland and the Roman World
Dr Katharina Becker
This module examines the archaeological record of Ireland in the first half of the first millennium AD. This includes the newly emerged evidence for settlement, subsistence and economic activities. The evidence for different types of interaction with the Roman world is presented. The history and archaeology of the Roman Empire will be briefly outlined and the concept of Romanisation explored in a variety of case studies. These will also include areas outside the Empire such as Scotland in order to contextualise the Irish evidence.

AR3055  Transitions in Prehistory: Ireland in the Third Millennium BC
Professor William O’Brien
This module explores the archaeology of Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper Age) societies in Ireland during the third millennium BC. The lectures examine new monument traditions (henges, timber circles and wedge tombs), changes in funerary practice and religious belief, new forms of settlement, as well as important innovations in technology and material culture. The course is particularly concerned with exploring the origins of metallurgy in Ireland with reference to the international Beaker ‘culture’.

AR3056  The Archaeology of Post-medieval Ireland
Dr Colin Rynne
A critical reappraisal of the archaeology of Ireland from the plantation period to the development of demesne landscapes in the early eighteenth century. Particular attention will be placed on introducing the current methodological approaches, and how post-processual theoretical brands have been and applied to the study of settlement forms, economy, society and material culture in Ireland in during the post-medieval period.

AR3061  Ireland’s Golden Age: Art and Craft AD 600–1200 (5 credits)
Dr Griffin Murray
This module examines the rich artefactual heritage of Ireland's Golden Age during the early and high medieval periods. This was a time when craftsmanship in Ireland reached its highest point, producing objects of global significance. The 'Tara' brooch, Ardagh chalice, Cross of Cong, Book of Kells, and the stone high crosses are all explored in detail. The module investigates the different stylistic and technical influences in this period of change, including Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian, Viking, and Romanesque. It also examines key artefacts from areas of Irish influence in Britain and the Continent. Furthermore, it examines the major sites of craft production, the position of craftsmen in Irish society, the role of royal and church patronage, and the use of objects as agents of power and devotion in medieval society.

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