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Master Thesis Archaeological Science


Admission requirements

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


The MSc thesis is the final masterpiece that shows that you can write, plan and execute an academic research project in Archaeological Science.
Your research is a contribution to an academic debate related to your chosen specialisation. It is based on archaeological and/or environmental data derived from fieldwork, laboratory research, academic literature or external sources. The research may have a methodological focus.

Before you start your thesis research, your thesis topic has to be defined in a research proposal, which should also comprise clear research questions, a suitable methodology and a feasible plan for undertaking the research.
A supervisor in your chosen field has to approve your proposal. Therefore you need to approach one of the supervisors listed below. Your project needs to be feasible and your supervisor should be able to supervise it. Therefore the subject will have to be related to the research topics of the Faculty of Archaeology as described on our website.

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, but too many pages are not permitted.

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

Course set-up

The accompanying Thesis Tutorial consists of general lectures for all MSc students (thesis framework, structure, content, and quality), plus group meetings per specialisation arranged by the thesis supervisors and individual meetings.

Course objectives

The master thesis and the accompanying tutorial will teach you to:

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

  • Formulate clear and relevant research questions;

  • Apply a suitable and effective methodology;

  • Collect and analyse scientific data of sufficient quality and quantity for the purpose of the research;

  • Deal with limitations of the data in a critical way;

  • Interpret the research results with reference to sufficient and relevant 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

The accompanying Thesis Tutorial has three modes of instruction:

1) Joint tutorial for all MSc 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.
Through lectures, discussions and assignments (individual or in groups) they will lay the formal groundwork for your thesis.

2) Group meetings with your thesis supervisor

In these separate meetings each supervisor (listed below) will discuss suitable thesis topics, research questions, methods and research strategies in their field with the students who choose their specialisation.
These meetings will have varying formats and will help to give the contents of your thesis shape and form.

3) Individual supervision

Each student will also arrange individual meetings with their supervisor during which specific questions can be discussed. The norm for individual supervision is 5 meetings between student and first supervisor throughout the thesis trajectory:

  • Start-up meeting to discuss the research topic;

  • Meeting on feedback and discussion of the research plan (before submission of the research proposal);

  • Meeting on feedback on a chapter and the thesis outline;

  • Meeting to discuss the progress of the research;

  • Meeting on feedback and discussion of the complete first draft.

You can always ask for an appointment, but the supervisor may ask for a progress report as well.

Course load

  • Thesis of ca. 20,000-30,000 words (10 ec);

  • Ca. 280 hours of individual research (10 ec);

  • Accompanying Thesis Tutorial.

Assessment method

  • MSc thesis (100%).

See the Faculty website for thesis guidelines and assessment criteria.

Retake of the thesis: Should you receive a fail grade for your thesis, you have 6 weeks after receiving your result to make improvements based on the assessment by your supervisor and the second reader.
The grade for the resubmitted thesis cannot be higher than 7.0. If you fail the revised thesis as well, you need to write a new thesis on a new subject.

Submission deadlines:

  • Research proposal: September starters > 1 December. February starters > 1 May;

  • Complete first draft: September starters > 1 May. February starters > 1 November;

  • Final version of the thesis for assessment and grading: September starters > 15 June (for graduation at the end of August). February starters > 15 December (for graduation at the end of February).

After each submission you will receive feedback from your supervisor within 15 working days.

Reading list

To be compiled by each student individually depending on their thesis topic. The list needs to be approved by the thesis supervisor.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You can use the study activity number in the timetable for registration.


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

For general information about thesis writing, and a list of thesis supervisors, see the thesis and paper writing page.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • 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.