MA (Landscape Archaeology)

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

Course overview

The landscape has become an increasingly important and significant concept in today’s Ireland, and is a central avenue for both academic research as well as for contemporary heritage management.

Drawing on a range of expertise in prehistoric and historic landscapes, the MA (Landscape Archaeology) offers an intensive one-year programme in landscape archaeology. The course provides a critical understanding of landscapes, and their components, character and relevance, in today’s society. The landscape has become an increasingly significant concept in modern Ireland, and is a central part of both academic research and contemporary heritage management

A strong element of the programme is the field-based teaching, held in various archaeological landscapes around Ireland. A series of Field Survey workshops is also part of the programme, teaching you the basics in manual surveying, total station survey and geophysical surveys, as well as high precision GPS survey.

Key facts

Entry requirements

A NQAI Level 8 degree in Archaeology awarded at Second Class Honours Grade 2 standard overall with at least a Second Class Honours Grade 2 in Archaeology or its equivalent in education and professional experience. An interview forms part of the selection process.

Duration: 1 year, full-time

Next start date: September 2016

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 12 (The programme is offered subject to a minimum number of 6 registered applicants).

Closing date: 6th May 2016

Mode of study: Taught

Course outline

The history of landscape archaeology is explored, as are contemporary philosophical treatments of the concept of landscape. Various issues surrounding the protection, management, and presentation of archaeological landscapes are considered and case-studies are used to examine the wide range of such landscapes and their components. There is emphasis on fieldwork training and a critical understanding of the range of sources used. Students are provided with a basic foundation in GIS and its applications in archaeology and are introduced to electronic survey and digital mapping, geophysical prospection, and data processing. Practical demonstrations and field exercises are an important element of the programme.

Programme content (subject to change):

  • Landscape Perspectives 
  • Interpreting Landscapes 
  • Managing Landscapes 
  • Investigating Landscapes   
  • Digital Landscapes  
  • Geographical Information Systems and Landscape Archaeology  
  • Dissertation

The programme is based on six modules:

  • Landscape perspectives: you are introduced to the fascinating world of landscape studies, and its theoretical foundations.
  • Interpreting landscapes: this module focuses on how different archaeological landscapes can be read and interpreted based on case studies reaching from the Neolithic to the present day.
  • GIS and Landscape Archaeology: this is an introduction to the basic concepts of GIS, and via tutorials you will gain basic proficiency in a selection of archaeological applications in ArcGIS 9.3.
  • Managing landscapes: the role of archaeology in the planning process is explored. You are also introduced to the politics of landscape and Public Archaeology.
  • Investigating landscapes: the wide range of sources and methods used in landscape archaeology are explored, with a focus on their potential and limitation.
  • Presenting landscapes: via tutorial you are introduced to Adobe Photoshop. The module also consists of a week’s field school in the Burren, Co. Clare.

Applications and selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who teaches this course?

  • Dr Stefan Bergh 
  • Dr Carleton Jones 
  • Mr Conor Newman 
  • Dr Michelle Comber 
  • Dr Elizabeth FitzPatrick 
  • Dr Kieran O'Conor 
  • Ms. Maggie Ronayne 
  • Mr. Joe Fenwick 
  • Ms. Angela Gallagher

In addition, up to 15 guest lecturers contribute to the course and these include staff members of other academic departments in NUI Galway and archaeologists from the National Roads Authority, from local authorities, from private consultancies, from other academic institutions and from The Discovery Programme.

Requirements and assessment

Course modules are assessed through a combination of essays, class projects, assignments and/or seminar presentations, to a total of 450 marks (50% of the total). The dissertation of 15,000 words comprises the remaining 450 marks (50%).

Find out more

Dr Stefan Bergh
T: +353 91 492 052 | E:

PAC code


Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 p.a. 2015/16
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2015/16
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16
Non-EU (Total): €13,250 p.a. 2015/16

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your full-time tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay full-time TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224. 

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Graduate profile

Andrew Whitefield
Andrew Whitefield

3rd Year PhD student

"I joined the NUI Galway MA in Landscape Archaeology in 2008, and the following year embarked on my PhD. My thesis will investigate prehistoric life in Ireland around the time of the first farmers, focusing on new approaches to the interpretation of the archaeological evidence. It is the capacity of archaeology to explore the diversity of human experience and shed light on how the past shapes the present that particularly inspires me. The Archaeology Department at NUI Galway provides a supportive learning environment which is at the cutting edge of many of the teaching and research methods that are changing the way we understand the past."