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RMA Thesis Archaeology year 1


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


The RMA thesis is the final masterpiece that shows that you can write, plan and execute an innovative academic research project that may serve as a basis for ongoing PhD- research. The research is based on data derived from material culture, fieldwork, laboratory research, or historic sources and additional academic literature. It is researched and written over the course of two years and should be related to your research track.

In the first year, the research problem has to be defined in a research proposal in which clear research questions, methodology and planning are defined. It is based on thorough literature review.
A good proposal contains a work plan with a proper and complete data description and a well-argued, in-depth methodology.
The proposal has to contain innovative and critical approaches to the analyses of complex data that may lead to new theoretical or methodical approaches, related to a broad academic debate.

More information on writing your thesis, deadlines, forms and criteria can be found on the Archaeology thesis webpage.

In year 1 the research proposal has to be defined and approved by the supervisor. This proposal is based on a thorough literature review.

Course objectives

After completing the research proposal for the RMA thesis, the student:

  • knows the requirements of a solid research question;

  • is acquainted with academic standards of writing and the requirements of publishing formats for style and referencing stated by the Faculty;

  • is acquainted with the concepts of plagiarism and academic fraud;

  • knows the essential deadlines in the planning and writing stage.

After completing the research for the Research Master thesis, the thesis seminar, the student:

  • has refined and reshaped the research problem and question into a feasible working plan within the context of the specialisation;

  • is acquainted with the state-of-the-art regarding methodology and theory in the discipline of thesis research;

  • is able to relate his/her research to the framework of modern scholarly discussions and a multidisciplinary context;

  • is capable of introspection and can defend conclusions based on academic arguments;

  • can explain the research clearly to non-specialists.

The writing of the RMA thesis shows that the student is able to:

  • independently design, plan and execute innovative archaeological research, while maintaining a critical attitude and using feedback in a constructive way;

  • define clear research questions and choose the correct methodology;

  • combine alpha, beta and gamma applications in a creative and confident way;

  • collect, analyse and interpret complex scientific data;

  • select and use relevant specialist literature and current theoretical perspectives;

  • build a structured argumentation in a proper academic style;

  • clearly describe and present data both in text and graphically;

  • deal with incomplete or limited information, typical of archaeological datasets;

  • function in academic networks and teams;

  • reflect on ethical-social aspects of archaeology and to discuss this from an international globalising perspective.


Not applicable.

Mode of instruction

The process of writing a proposal, and in the next year your thesis, starts with lectures and seminars that focus on the planning and pitfalls during all stages of the research.

The individual supervision is usually based on submitted text. You can always ask for an appointment, but the supervisor may ask for a progress report as well. In general, 5 meetings with your supervisor in which you discuss your progress and discuss feedback are sufficient.

Planning of the thesis:

  • After block 1 (block 3 for February intake): preliminary thesis question;

  • After block 2 (block 4 for February intake): definitive research question, methodology, structure and planning (including bibliography). This has to be approved by the supervisor;

  • In blocks 3 and 4 (1 and 2 for February intake) you carry out research independently and progress is discussed with the individual supervisor;

  • 1 May (or 1 November for February intake): submission of the proposal to your supervisor;

  • 15 June (or 15 December for February intake): submission of final version of the proposal to your supervisor.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, the mode of instruction may change.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows (for first and second year together):

  • 30.000 words (15 ec);

  • 560 hours of individual research (20 ec).

Assessment method

  • Research proposal according to standards (completed/ approved).

For rules and criteria for the thesis, see the thesis and paper writing guidelines.

Please note: credits for the first year (the proposal) will be awarded when the complete thesis is submitted in the 2nd year, in the total amount of 35 credits for the RMA thesis.

Reading list

To be compiled individually.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.
You can use the study activity number in the timetable for registration.


See this list of supervisors for specific contact details.