UCC Postgraduate courses

Archaeology - Archaeological Excavation

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Archaeology - Archaeological Excavation

  • Code

  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

  • Duration

    1 year Full-time

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications


  • EU Fees 2021

    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees 2021


  • Entry Requirements

    You will have an honours primary degree in archaeology or anthropology to 2H2 honours level or a Higher Diploma in Archaeology to 2H1 honours level. See Requirements for full details.

  • Non-EU Closing Date

    Not on offer 2020/2021

  • Start Date

    September 2022, Not on offer 2021/2022

Course Outline

The MA in Archaeological Excavation is a one-year taught course, offered on a full-time basis by the Department of Archaeology. Excavation is central to the practice of archaeology as an academic and professional discipline, with many employment opportunities in Ireland and abroad. This course will provide advanced training in the theory and practice of excavation, and specifically:

  • develop a critical understanding of the role of excavation in world archaeology, with particular reference to professional practice in Ireland
  • teach research and organisational skills appropriate to the design and execution of archaeological excavation projects to a high standard
  • combine academic knowledge and technical training in different areas of current practice, including pre-excavation survey, excavation strategy and methods, and post-excavation analysis.

The course will provide a strong foundation for students who wish to develop a professional career in archaeological excavation, or find employment in areas where a critical understanding of excavation is essential.

The MA is designed to achieve a desirable balance between classroom teaching and field training, covering both academic and technical areas of archaeological excavation. The course includes five taught modules, a four-week training excavation and the submission of a research dissertation.

Modules (90 credits):

  • AR6004 Excavation Planning and Research Design (5 credits)
  • AR6005 Excavation Strategy and Practice (5 credits)
  • AR6006 Post-excavation Analysis and Interpretation (5 credits)
  • AR6007 Case-studies in Archaeological Excavation (10 credits)
  • AR6013 Archaeological Survey and Remote Sensing (5 credits)
  • AR6008 Training Excavation (15 credits)
  • AR6001 Dissertation (45 credits)

For further details on the course content and module descriptions, see the Postgraduate Academic Calendar


Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our book of modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar

You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Course Practicalities

Lectures take place over six months (October to March), with an average of six hours per week. You will attend additional computer lab practicals in October and November, a two-day field survey exercise in October, as well as a number of one-day excursions in the following months. There is also mandatory attendance on a one-week training excavation in April and a five-week training excavation in May.

The taught courses are examined by continuous assessment, with a combination of essays, projects, class presentations and fieldwork exercises. The training excavation is assessed by project work, while a research dissertation must be submitted at the end of the year.

Professor William O’BrienNick Hogan and Invited Lecturers

Why Choose This Course

This is the only English-language, taught master’s course in Europe that offers dedicated training in archaeological excavation. The course addresses a significant demand for archaeologists to work in the commercial excavation sector.

Skills and Careers Information

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply for excavation licences in Ireland
  • Carry out historical research & cartographic analysis in advance of archaeological excavation
  • Survey archaeological sites in advance of excavation, including both surface mapping & geophysical prospection
  • Identify & organise the resources required to conduct an archaeological excavation
  • Design excavation strategies appropriate to different types of archaeological site & different excavation circumstance
  • Develop the basic skills required to carry out an archaeological excavation
  • Work effectively as part of an excavation team, & acquire management skills
  • Identify & assess the range of research carried out at the post-excavation stage
  • Write preliminary & final excavation reports, as well as related specialist reports
  • Acquire specialist skills in computing & information technology relevant to archaeological excavation
  • Compile excavation archives
  • Communicate the results of archaeological excavation to a specialist & non-specialist audience
  • Design & implement conservation works connected to public presentation & long-term preservation of archaeological sites
  • Transfer a range of critical learning & writing skills, as well as IT training & practical experience, to other employment areas


You will have honours primary degree in archaeology or anthropology to second honours level from a recognized university or third-level institution, or a higher diploma in archaeology to 2H1 honours level, and set a formal interview to establish motivation, work experience and relevant expertise.

The Additional/Supplementary Statement Questions MUST also be completed during the online application. 

References are required from applicants who have not graduated from UCC in the last two years. Please supply two letters of reference, one of which should be a previous employer or supervisor of studies. Sealed letters of references should be sent directly to the Course Director: Professor William O’Brien, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

Places to be offered based on a combination of academic qualifications, relevant experience and expertise and interview performance.

English Language Requirements

Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements available here.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements, please find our grades comparison by country here

International/non-EU applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Fees and Costs

The EU fee for this course is €6,430.

The Non-EU fee for this course is €16,080.


If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment:

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment:

Fees for Non-EU Students are payable in one instalment in August.

How can I pay?

By Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.


If you have any questions on fee payment please email our Fees Office at fees@ucc.ie .

Non-EU Fees

The fee schedule for 2019/2020 is available here.

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course

Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to two courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online

Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the online application portal. Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a non-refundable €50 application fee for all courses apart from the Education - Professional Master of Education - (Secondary School/Post-Primary Teacher Training) which has a €100 application fee.

Applicants for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Nursing must apply on the PAC website when the programme opens for applications.

3. Gather Supporting Documents

Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to the online application portal in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course.

Please log into the online application portal for more details.

4. Application processing timeline

Our online application portal opens for applications for most courses in early November of each year. Check specific course details. 

5. Rounds

For courses that are in the rounds system (Irish and EU applicants), please check the rounds closing dates here.

Questions on how to apply?

Please use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to answer specific additional/supplementary questions as part of the online applications process for this programme. A copy of these additional/supplementary questions are available to view here: CKE18 Additional Questions

Deferrals are not permitted on this programme

The closing date for non-EU applications is Not on offer 2020/2021

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact