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Master Thesis Archaeological Science


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme, specifically the track Archaeological Science.


The Master thesis is the final masterpiece that demonstrates your ability to write, plan and execute an academic research project.

The thesis is a contribution to an academic debate related to Archaeological Science. It is based on data derived from material culture, fieldwork, laboratory work, external sources and/or academic literature. You have to apply what you have learned, develop (new) knowledge and be able to operate as an independent researcher while executing your research for the thesis. Your research may have a methodological focus.

The supervisor has to agree on the project proposal before the start of the research; the project needs to be feasible, and the supervisor should be able to supervise the research topic. Therefore, the subject should always be related to the research themes of staff within Archaeological Science.

Each student may pick a subject of their choice and ask an examiner affiliated with Archaeological Science for approval and supervision.
In this proposal the following needs to be addressed:

  • Preliminary title

  • Scientific context: why is this research important?

  • Research question and sub questions

  • Dataset and its availability

  • Methodological approach

  • Realistic time frame

  • Literature list of at least 5 sources

Once your proposal has been approved, your research should include a complete and accurate data description, an in-depth data analysis and an informed, well-argued data interpretation. The research should be positioned in a broader context and should include a critical analysis of the theoretical and/or methodological perspectives related to the research problem.

The thesis consists of ca. 20,000-30,000 words and includes materials necessary to support your argument. This equals roughly 40-60 pages of text, plus figures, tables, references, and appendices. Please note that the length of the thesis is not a norm in itself.

Course set-up

The thesis class consists of a tutorial and individual supervision.

In the first block of each semester, a compulsory thesis tutorial is offered for new MSc students that consists of general lectures (thesis framework, structure, content, and quality), plus group meetings per track (Material Culture Studies, Bioarchaeology, Digital Archaeology) arranged by the thesis supervisors. The group meetings may continue in later blocks.

Individual supervision
The student approaches a staff member from this list with a request to act as a supervisor. The student is expected to meet regularly with their supervisor throughout the thesis trajectory to discuss work that has been submitted prior to the meeting (e.g., research plan, chapter, draft thesis). The student and supervisor should meet approximately 5 times, online or in person.

Phase 1:

  • Initial meeting to discuss the research topic.

  • Meeting to discuss the supervisor’s feedback on the research proposal.

  • 1 December: Upload your research proposal in Brightspace.

Phase 2:

  • Meeting(s) to discuss the supervisor’s feedback on thesis progress (Please note that this meeting should be based on text or data that was handed in before the meeting)

  • 1 May: Submit a complete draft of your thesis in Brightspace.

Phase 3:

  • Meeting to discuss the supervisor’s final feedback on the complete first draft.

  • 15 June: Upload your final thesis in Brightspace.

Deadlines for students who start in February are listed below.

Course objectives

Ability to:

  • Independently plan and execute a small research project on an archaeologically relevant topic;

  • Formulate clear and relevant research questions;

  • Collect and analyse scientific data of sufficient quality and quantity for the purpose of the research and deal with limitations of the data in a critical way;

  • Propose, select and apply a suitable and effective methodology;

  • Interpret archaeological data using sufficient and relevant primary academic literature;

  • Relate the research to a broader academic debate and current theoretical perspectives;

  • Present the research in a coherent, well-argued and clearly formulated text, supported by adequate tables, figures and other supporting materials and maintain a critical attitude, and seek and use feedback in a constructive way.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Joint tutorial for all Archaeological Science students.
    These classes will deal with essential skills for thesis writing on the master level, such as academic writing, formulating a research question, structuring the thesis, plagiarism, data quality and source criticism;

  • Individual supervision.
    A student is supervised by at least one member of our staff; the official supervisor, who is also first examiner and first reader. Please see the list of possible MSc supervisors 2022-2023 and their areas of expertise on Brightspace or the Board of Examiners webpage.

Assessment method

  • MSc thesis (100%).

The assessment forms can be found in Brightspace and on the webpage Thesis and paper writing.

Submission deadlines:

Your thesis will be individually assessed by your supervisor, the first examiner, and an independent second examiner who was not involved in your research and is appointed by the Board of Examiners (BoE).
Both assessments will be sent to the examiners and discussed, after which a final grade and assessment will be given. This will be sent to the student by the Administration Office.

If the first and second examiner cannot come to an agreement, a third examiner is appointed by the BoE. Based on the assessments of the first and second examiners and the thesis, s/he will compile the final grade and assessment. This grade is final and will be communicated to the student.

A retake of the thesis is possible only once and has a strict deadline. Should you receive a fail grade for your thesis, you have 6 weeks after receiving your result to make improvements. The new grade will have a maximum of 7.0.
If you fail this updated version, you need to draft a new thesis on a new subject (see the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Examiners, article 4.9.4 for the complete procedure.)

Deadlines for graduating before 1 September:

  • 1 December: Upload the research proposal in Brightspace.

  • 1 May: Submit a complete draft of your thesis in Brightspace.

  • 15 June: Upload your final thesis in Brightspace.

  • 31 August: Final date that thesis can be approved.

Thesis submission after 15 June requires prior permission by the Board of Examiners. There needs to be a valid reason for this delay.

Deadlines for graduating before 1 February:

  • 1 July: Upload the research proposal in Brightspace.

  • 1 November: Submit a complete draft of your thesis in Brightspace.

  • 15 December: Upload your final thesis in Brightspace.

  • 31 January: Final date that thesis can be approved.

Thesis submission after 15 December requires prior permission by the Board of Examiners. There needs to be a valid reason for this delay.

Please note that you can submit your thesis in any month, but then the grading may take longer than in the regular scheme.

Reading list

To be compiled by each student individually depending on their thesis topic.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


For information about the MSc thesis, please contact dr. K. (Karsten) Lambers.


  • Compulsory attendance for the tutorials;

  • The joint thesis tutorial is taught in both semesters. If you start your programme in September, you participate in semester 1. If you start your programme in February, you participate in semester 2.