MSc Maritime Archaeology

General information

The Maritime Archaeology course units are block delivered to offer students the flexibility to fit studies around other commitments, such as work or family. Delivering the course in this way also enables us to invite government and industry experts from all over the world to be guest lecturers. This, in turn, provides students with potential national and international networking opportunities for future collaborations.

This course focuses on the principles of maritime archaeology of all periods within the broader international context and is delivered with the collaboration of renowned professionals from different parts of the world. With climate change creating long term alterations in the marine environment, this will be the first taught maritime archaeology course internationally to include units that address this issue. 

The primary research areas are: archaeology of seafaring and the development of ships; site formation and in situ preservation; marine environmental processing; diving project management. Projects within this research cluster benefit greatly from collaborations and exchanges with many organisations on a national and international level.

Semester 1

Core units:

Ancient Ships: This unit aims to provide you with an understanding of, and some practical experience in, the construction, recording and analysis of the kind of ships and boats that are found in the archaeological record of North West Europe.

Applied Field Investigation: You will have the opportunity to plan, monitor, record and report on an element of an archaeological field project, in which you have taken a responsible role using the methods, practices and skills typically used within professional archaeological projects and research. Before undertaking the fieldwork, you will gain an understanding of how to plan field projects and produce an appropriate project design, including health and safety and budgeting aspects. Having completed a supervisory field project, you will produce a report to industry standards. A minimum of four weeks experience of working on an archaeological field project would normally be expected to undertake this unit.

Management of Archaeological Material: The aim of this unit is to provide you with the basic principles and understanding behind caring for, treating and curating artefacts from archaeological sites, with particular attention on finds from wet sites like marine or freshwater. Learning and teaching methods include introductory lectures on the problems and issues related to material from archaeological excavations, with a particular focus on waterlogged material. You'll also be given practical experience of stabilisation, excavation, in situ protection and recovering finds.

Maritime Archaeology: Gain an understanding of the principles and history of maritime archaeology. You'll gain knowledge of materials and site types in the maritime archaeological record and the principles and scope of maritime studies.

Option units:  Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.

You'll choose one of the following:

Techniques of Archaeological Recovery & Recording: Taking part in field work exercises and practical demonstrations gives you grounding in the methods involved in archaeological field recording and recovery. You'll learn about the principles of location, survey, excavation and the planning and recording of archaeological finds and features. You'll also learn about planning field projects, which covers health & safety and budgeting.

Marine Environment, Heritage & Spatial Planning: Environmental changes in the marine environment have affected the degradation and preservation of underwater heritage. This unit, which may involve field trips, will help you understand the effect of physical, chemical and biological damage to the historic environment and natural hazards to historical and archaeological sites in coastal and shallow marine environments. After completing this unit, you'll be able to manage in situ degradation and the protection of underwater archaeological sites, and appraise mitigation methods for preserving our underwater cultural heritage in situ.

Applied Maritime Archaeology: This unit is designed to take advantage of any maritime archaeological projects that BU may run in the future. To take part, you'll need at least World Confederation of Underwater Activities (CMAS) 2 Star diving qualifications.

Underwater Cultural Heritage: In Situ Degradation and Preservation: Gain a sound scientific knowledge and understanding of the principles behind degradation and preservation of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH). There will be a combination of theoretical study and practical applications, the study of different scientific methodologies, including an understanding of basic physical, chemical and biological processes in the underwater environment, in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Semester 2

Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.

Learning outcome:

There are many and varied professional opportunities for maritime archaeologists.

As an MSc Maritime Archaeology graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as: 

  • Marine archaeology
  • Museum curator
  • Underwater cultural heritage fellow
  • Marine data processor
  • Academic researcher.

Industries worked in

  • Maritime archaeology
  • Museums
  • Education
  • Academic research.

Further study: If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

Contact Person: Paola Palma (Programme Leader) (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0222 - Marine archaeology


Venue: Bournemouth University
Poole, United Kingdom



Full-time students

  • UK/EU/Channel Islands: £5.750
  • ​International (non-EU): £14.000

*The EU tuition fee for 2017/18 is subject to review in response to changes in government policy.

Part-time students
The fees for this course for part-time students are pro-rata of the full-time fee. You will be charged a proportion of the full-time fee according to how much you study during the year.

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

More information can be found here


Full entry requirements. The normal requirements for embarking upon this degree are:

  • Possession of a 2:2 degree or equivalent
  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the askBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements. If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (academic) 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

Background and experience

For Maritime Archaeology we are looking for applicants who are:

  • Enthusiastic about learning and being in an academic environment
  • Passionate about maritime heritage
  • Hard-working and willing to engage in active research subjects
  • A team player and enjoy helping to develop others.

Candidates should intend to focus their work in one of the many avenues of maritime archaeological research which range from traditional archaeological research into the archaeology of seafaring, the archaeology of conflict at sea, the development of the ship, the management of underwater cultural heritage in situ and the protection of maritime archaeological material.

Selection methods. We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications – after the application has been evaluated a one to one meeting either in person, over the phone or Skype is necessary to have an understanding of the potential student as a whole. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU.

Application Procedure:

You can apply using the online application system (myHub). You will need to create an account and complete the application form. You might be asked to provide evidence of your qualifications and details of a referee.

Appllication Deadline: there are no application deadlines, but it's a good idea to complete your online application soon, as it may fill up quite quickly. As a guide, you should aim to apply by the end of June.

Grant Opportunities:

There is a varied range of scholarships available for postgraduate students to reward academic excellence, help international students access higher education at this level and to simply provide further financial assistance.

Scholarships don’t have to be paid back and are usually awarded as discount to your tuition fees (a fee waiver), which you will see when you enrol.

You will need to apply for certain scholarships, once you have submitted a course application, while others will be awarded automatically if you meet the specified criteria.

External websites, such as The Scholarship Hub, can also help you find additional funding to support your studies so don't forget to research those too.


Academic level: Master

Qualification: Master of Science
Occupations (not validated):
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