University of Chester

Programme Specification
Past Landscapes and Environments MA
2017 - 2018

Master of Arts

Past Landscapes and Environments

Past Landscapes and Environments

University of Chester

University of Chester

Parkgate campus, University of Chester

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

Full Time = 1 Year; Part Time = 2 Year

6 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities History and Archaeology



PG History

Tuesday 24th May 2016

  • To offer suitably qualified students the opportunity to explore and critically examine, within the framework of a taught postgraduate programme, the advanced study of past landscapes and environments.
  • To be informed by, and contribute to, the broader continuing academic debates on the study of past human societies and the importance of the past in the present through the analysis of primary and secondary archaeological and historical sources of data.
  • To provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop an independent extended piece of scholarly research into an aspect of past landscapes and environments.
  • To make available to students the particular benefits which come from the wide range of resources developed by the University of Chester within its region for research in past landscapes and environments.
  • To prepare students for postgraduate research in archaeology at Master/Doctor of Philosophy level and beyond as self-directed scholars and researchers.

  • Systematically deploy knowledge at the forefront of the discipline regarding the nature and value of history and archaeology and critically evaluate the scholarly study of past landscapes and environments: via modules HI7406,  HI7407 & HI7414/HI7415
  • Critically evaluate selected themes and issues, examined in their national, regional or local contexts: via all optional modules
  • Master knowledge and understanding of the range, nature and value of primary and secondary sources, theories, and methodologies for the study of historical and archaeological subjects: via modules HI7406, HI7407, HI7414/HI7415 & HI7329 

  • Master the ability to read and use documentary, material, and (where appropriate) scientific evidence both critically and empathetically while addressing content, context and perspective: via module HI7406, HI7407 & HI7414/HI7415
  • Demonstrate the capacity to plan, conduct and present a programme of original research: via modules HI7406, HI7407 & HI7414/HI7415
  • Apply scholarly conventions: via all modules

  • Via all modules, systematically deploy the skills of the advanced researcher including bibliographical skills, selection and synthesis of primary and secondary sources and the ability to provide original analysis in relation to questions appropriate to the discipline.

  • Communicate complex ideas effectively, both orally and in writing: via module HI7406 primarily
  • Deploy effective information technology as and when appropriate: via module HI7407
  • Master analytical ability and the capacity to consider and solve problems: via module HI7406 and HI7414/HI7415
  • Demonstrate intellectual integrity, intellectual maturity and insight: via all modules

PG Certificate Past Landscapes and Environments (60 credits): All PG Cert. students take either the 20-credit core module HI7332: Research Skills in Archaeology and Heritage or HI7401: Research Methods and Skills in History plus the core 20-credit module HI7406 Thinking Through Landscapes and Environments, plus one 20-credit option from the available pool.

PG Diploma Past Landscapes and Environments (120 credits): All PG Dip. students take either the 20-credit core module HI7332: Research Skills in Archaeology and Heritage or HI7401: Research Methods and Skills in History’ plus the two core 20-credit modules HI7406: Thinking Through Landscapes and Environments and HI7407: Investigating Past Landscapes and Environments, the 40 credit HI7414: Landscape Research Project plus one 20 credit optional module from the available pool

MA Past Landscapes and Environments (180 credits): Students take either the 20-credit core module HI7332: Research Skills in Archaeology and Heritage or HI7401: Research Methods and Skills in History plus the two core 20-credit modules HI7406: Thinking Through Landscapes and Environments and HI7407: Investigating Past Landscapes and Environments, and either the 20 credit HI7415: Landscape Research Essay and one 20 credit optional module from the available pool, or the 40 credit HI7414: Landscape Research Project. Students complete the programme by taking the core 80-credit module HI7329: Research Dissertation.

Optional modules:

HI7013: Defending the Realm: Fortifications in the Landscape

HI7312: Kingship and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England, 400-1066

HI7333: Archaeological Heritage in Practice

HI7409: Landscapes and Memory

HI7410: Designing British Landscapes: from Stowe to the Olympic Park, 1700-2012

HI7412: Consumer Cities, 1300-1600

HI7413: Landscapes of Leisure: Tourism and the English Countryside in the 20th Century

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
HI7013 7 Defending the Realm: Fortifications in the Landscape 20 Optional
HI7312 7 Kingship and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England, 400-1066 20 Optional
HI7329 7 Research Dissertation 80 Comp
HI7332 7 Research Skills in Archaeology and Heritage 20 Optional
HI7333 7 Archaeological Heritage in Practice 20 Optional
HI7401 7 Research Methods and Skills in History 20 Optional
HI7406 7 Thinking Through Landscapes and Environments 20 Comp
HI7407 7 Investigating Past Landscapes and Environments 20 Comp
HI7409 7 Landscapes and Memory 20 Optional
HI7410 7 Designing British Landscapes: from Stowe to the Olympic Park, 1700-2012 20 Optional
HI7411 7 The Making of the English Landscape, 400-1200 20 N/A
HI7412 7 Consumer Cities, 1300-1600 20 Optional
HI7413 7 Landscapes of Leisure: Tourism and the English Countryside in the 20th Century 20 Optional
HI7414 7 Landscape Research Project 40 Optional
HI7415 7 Landscape Research Essay 20 Optional

  • 60 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Certificate
  • 120 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Postgraduate Diploma
  • 180 credits at Level 7 entitles the student to a Masters degree



Applicants would normally be expected to have a minimum of 2.1 degree but consideration will be given to the overall profile of the student. Equivalence will be reviewed by the programme leader or an interview panel as appropriate, and prior experience in the history, archaeology, museum and heritage sectors will be taken into account alongside academic qualifications. The interview panel also reserves the right to ask potential candidates to submit a piece of written work for consideration, if appropriate. Decisions concerning the allocation of credit, either for admission or advanced standing, will be the responsibility of a Credit Allocation Panel. Credit value will be given for appropriate certificated or experiential learning completed within the previous five years and through which an applicant can demonstrate prior achievement of learning outcomes related to one or more of the programme's modules. A student seeking advanced standing must apply before enrolment. Comparable or equivalent qualifications will be required for international students.


There is currently no relevant Master’s Level Benchmark Statements for Archaeology or History. However, many of the principles expressed in the undergraduate Benchmark Statements for Archaeology and History are appropriate and are embraced within the outcomes detailed below.

The MA programmes will accord with the descriptor for a qualification at Master’s level included in the QAA’s ‘Framework for Higher Education Qualifications’ (second edition, August 2008):

  • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the historical academic discipline
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
  • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research

It also accords with the more detailed description of defining characteristics in the QAA’s ‘Master’s Degree Characteristics’ (March 2010). We have also considered the QAA’s overview of opinions on the possibility of developing benchmarks for academic programmes as master’s level, ‘Securing and maintaining academic standards: benchmarking M-level programmes’ (February 2006) and the QAA’s ‘Report on round table discussion meeting: “UK Master’s 2010 and Beyond” (December 2007).

The taught core and optional modules will be taught predominantly as seminars, supplemented where appropriate by e-learning, short lectures, contributions from guest speakers, field trips and independent study. All sessions will also be complemented by individual tutorials, which will be available during tutors’ regular office hours or by appointment to support students’ private learning. The Dissertation (or Research Essay) will be taught by one-to-one tutorial supervision. 

The primary methods of assessment will be the essay and dissertation. The programme’s suite of assessment recognises the importance of student progression. For this reason, the research skills modules HI7332 and HI7401 are each taught during the first semester, includes shorter pieces of assessment including a skills passport (HI7332) or one 2,000-word primary source assignment, one 20 minute oral presentation and one 1,500 word synopsis of a potential research topic (HI7401).

Following on from the foundations offered by HI7332 and HI7401, the remaining modules are assessed by means written work, primarily essays of either 2,000 or 4,000 words. This, though, should not be regarded as a limitation. At undergraduate level, the History and Archaeology programmes employ a range of assessment methods, including book reviews, blogs, examinations, essays, portfolios, presentations and reflective journals. For a postgraduate level programme, where the focus is on the development of students as academic historians, essays are a more appropriate form of assessment. However, it should be stressed that an essay remains a flexible assessment method, allowing tutors to tailor essay questions to suit the particular needs of each module. Students taking HI7407 are assessed through a 4000 word portfolio, which contains a mix of written work and applied practical work.

Each of the substantive essays helps to prepare students for HI7329 (Research Dissertation), which is assessed by means of a 16,000 word dissertation. As the final piece of assessment to be submitted, the dissertation looks for deeper knowledge and more complex arguments; students will have developed these skills through their work on the earlier essays in the option modules. The programme’s suite of assessment is modelled on the Department’s other successful postgraduate programmes, which ensures for parity between cognate courses. Taken together, the range of assessments covered by the MA helps to develop the variety of research and writing skills needed by successful History and Archaeology postgraduates.

On completion of this programme, a successful graduate will have acquired a range of communication and transferable skills (as embraced by both the educational aims of the programme and the programme outcomes - see above) valuable to their current or potential employers.  The critical skills students will have acquired and developed with enable them to interpret, analyse and evaluate a wider range of material evidence, architectures and landscapes relevant to a range of professional careers. The programmes’ graduates will also be highly motivated and proficient in the completion of complex projects to deadlines and through guided independent study. Graduates will have high-level research skills and the ability to apply their knowledge and research findings in a range of contexts. Those graduating from the programmes will also be able to construct and interrogate original ideas and reflect on their own abilities and skills.  

In the light of these characteristics, graduates from all our Master’s pathways will be prepared for further research at Master/Doctor of Philosophy level in terms of both key skills and subject knowledge. The successful graduate would also have demonstrated the skills and characteristics as described in the FHEQ descriptor for an M-Level degree. Furthermore, the programme will prepare students for employment in the commercial, government and museum sectors. The MA also offers specific experience relevant to work in the heritage industry and may lead to employment in this sector.

The Department of History & Archaeology is committed to fostering an environment free of all forms of disability, gender, racial and other discrimination, while actively promoting equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity. We aim to create an intellectual community that welcomes and promotes diversity and equality in and through relationships involving all staff and students, learning and teaching and research and scholarship.

The Department follows the University policies regarding admissions, widening access and participation, equal opportunities and APL, as applied centrally by the University.  Consistent with the University's commitment to widening access and participation, the programme conforms to the University's flexible approach and welcomes applications from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education. The University of Chester values the diversity of its student body and aims to promote quality of opportunity in all its activities.  All suitably-qualified students are welcome on this programme irrespective of race, gender, disability or age.  Every effort will be made to accommodate students with specific learning or physical needs and to ensure that all students benefit equally.  Each case will be examined individually and the University's Inclusion Plans will provide guidance and support, as appropriate.  International students who meet the admissions requirements are welcome and will enrich both the programme and the postgraduate community at the University; support and guidance are provided for international students at the institution, particularly through the International Student Welfare Officer.

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