GradCert Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 30)


Experimental archaeology can be defined as the reconstruction of past buildings, technologies, practices, and things, based on archaeological evidence, and their use as analogies, their recording, testing, use and experience so as to enable a better understanding of people’s lives in the past. It may involve scientific analyses, but also innovative, experiential interrogations of past lifeways and material culture, so as to explore and understand how people interact with materials, craft skills, things, each other, and the wider world.

UCD School of Archaeology’s Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Online/Distance Learning) would build on the strengths of the existing taught programmes in UG/PGT in experimental archaeology and material culture, and the international reputation of UCD School of Archaeology’s Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC). The Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Online/Distance Learning) is a part-time, online, distance learning course designed to equip students with current thinking and professional understanding of experimental archaeological investigations of past societies. The programme will provide you with the knowledge base, skills and confidence to further develop their career in this field, and to build potential for further graduate studies, research and teaching. It is:

  • The only Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture Distance Learning course in the world, offering a multidisciplinary programme of teaching and learning with modules in theoretical and practical approaches to experimental archaeology and material culture
  • Designed for practitioners, museum professionals and motivated participants working in the areas of experimental archaeology, living history, re-enactment, crafts and ancient technologies, primitive technology, museums, archaeological open air museums, and also professional archaeologists (to be accredited as a CPD)
  • A part-time, online, distance learning course with an international focus on experimental archaeology and material culture.

It will provide an introduction to university learning in experimental archaeology and material culture analysis for participants unable or unwilling, for any reason, to attend our campus programmes, particularly international and national adult learners, whose commitments to families or careers prevent them from travelling to, and residing in Ireland for one year.

It will also be the basis of a CPD course for professional archaeologists in Ireland and beyond. UCD School of Archaeology staff associated with CEAMC have been asked many times by international practitioners over the last 5 years if it was possible to study experimental archaeology with us in UCD School of Archaeology by Distance Learning, this is the answer to that question.


We expect the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Distance Learning) fees to be €67.80 per credit (€2,034 for 30 credits) for both EU and non-EU students (no difference made).

Curricular information is subject to change

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

This programme will provide you with an introductory course to experimental archaeology and material culture, through Distance Learning/Online teaching means. Students of the Graduate Certificate (by Distance Learning) in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture will:

•      Study in an exciting multidisciplinary programme, with online lectures by UCD staff and international experts, with full use of a wide range of online materials, including lectures, podcasts, videos and blog posts.

•      Explore and investigate though online lectures, seminars, and their own practical projects how people in the past understood and worked with stone, flint, clay, pottery, wood, leather, woollen and vegetal textiles, and other materials, and how they constructed and inhabited buildings developed different technologies, and made and used things.



Links to UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC) at UCD School of Archaeology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

The Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Online/Distance Learning) would be closely linked to UCD School of Archaeology’s Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC), which established since 2012, is one of the only specifically designed and dedicated, on- campus university facilities in the world for experimental archaeology and material culture studies.

It links with Research projects at CEAMC, which are essentially driven by Principal Investigators, including academic staff, Postdoctoral Fellows, and also PhD and MA scholars, who design and carry out their own specific projects. Current and ongoing research projects include work on Mesolithic, Bronze Age, Early Medieval and Viking Age houses, on foods and cooking, on living environments, on pottery manufacture, on the use of stone, flint, chert and quartz technologies, on bronze, iron and glass-working, and on various aspects of early medieval/late medieval food technologies, production and processing. Multidisciplinary collaborations are also being established with other UCD Schools, including the Earth Institute, Engineering, Folklore, and Education, and there are also international academic collaborations through the Centre’s established connections with EXARC (the global network for Archaeological Open-Air Museums and experimental archaeology. The UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture has already successfully attracted several Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships, Irish Research Council PhD scholarships and Teagasc Walsh PhD Fellowship, as well as external funding for various research projects.

It also benefits from CEAMC’s distinctive Teaching and Learning philosophy, where since 2012, there have been a range of innovative undergraduate and taught graduate experimental archaeology modules. These include the Level 3 module, “ARCH30500: Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies” module, where students are taken through a week-long intensive module, and then design, implement and analyze the results of their own original project.

Graduate Certificate students would also access modules in the existing MSc/Grad Dip in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture programmes, which have been transformative of UCD students’ practical experience of material culture, and are also innovative in their use of Problem-Based, Enquiry-Based and Peer Learning, encouraging project design skills, originality, creativity, resourcefulness, teamwork, and also facilitate multiple- intelligence learning experiences. The Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Online/Distance Learning students, build on these past teaching experiences.

CEAMC’s third activity is Public Outreach, Engagement and Communications, whereby we communicate the research activities of CEAMC and UCD School of Archaeology to local, national and international audiences. CEAMC has organized 2 major international conferences (including EAC9, 9th Experimental Archaeology Conference, the largest ever); as well as numerous schools and community outreach activities.

We have an active social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). CEAMC is often used by UCD in its own websites and publications, for visiting dignitaries and groups, and it has also figured in television (e.g. RTE News), on newspaper (Irish Times, etc) and in websites internationally. We see public outreach and engagement as part of students training at UCD, and would expect students to be actively involved in communication of archaeology to the public.


Website for UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC)

CEAMC Facebook UCD Experimental Archaeology Group

CEAMC Twitter account

CEAMC Instagram account


Students of the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Online/Distance Learning) will be introduced to the principles behind the identification, description, analysis and methods of experimental archaeological investigations, with a particular emphasis on the role of experimental archaeology in the investigation of past material culture and the properties of materials and objects, their manufacture, use and discard, and how this is communicated to the wide world.

On completion of this programme, a student will have been provided with:

•      An introduction to the role of experimental archaeology in the investigation of the character and diversity of materials and material culture in the past, so as to create and communicate knowledge of the past in modern society.

•      An introduction to the knowledge and skills required in designing original experimental archaeological projects, including the critique of project research questions, the application of methodologies to materials, the gathering and collation of data, the analysis of data and its interpretation.

•      An introduction to the potential different means of communicating knowledge, using presentations, photography, videos, online websites and other means, with a particular emphasis both on scientific communication, but also public outreach.

•      Develop an appreciation of how cultural heritage, craft and archaeological knowledge is communicated through scientific and archaeological publication, through Living History and Re-enactment communities, and in Europe’s and the world’s best traditional museums and Archaeological Open Air Museums (AOAMs).

•      Ability to apply the skills and knowledge acquired to promote an interdisciplinary approach to studying past material culture.

•      Ability to apply the research and scientific writing skills required in professional report writing.

View All Modules Here


•      ARCH41180 Experimental Archaeology: Making, Understanding, Storytelling (10 credits) explores how we think about past houses, buildings, agricultural and industrial technologies, pottery, lithics, metalworking, food and cooking, and other aspects of material culture, through a review of projects and best-practice case studies. Experimental Archaeology can be defined as the reconstruction of past buildings, practices, technologies, and things, based on archaeological evidence, and their investigation through testing, recording, and experience, so as to create a better understanding of people and their material culture in the past. In this module, we will explore through project case studies, the nature of experimental archaeology, and outline its key principles and achievement. We will discuss how experimental archaeology projects can investigate how prehistoric and medieval houses were built, used, and abandoned; how people produced, processed and prepared food and drink; how people used different raw materials, tacit knowledge and embodied skills and technologies to make things, such as pottery, iron tools, non-ferrous metals, organics and textiles. We will also explore the relationships and changing boundaries between experimental archaeology, experiential archaeology, living history, and re-enactment, and explore how these all can help us to practically re-create things from the past, understand the past and the archaeological record, and to tell stories about them. This module will be taught through seminars, lectures, and practical tasks) and Online/Distance Learning resources.

•      ARCH41170: Material Culture (10 credits) is an essential module for anybody interested in “things”, and investigates how we observe, describe and analyse things, using the principles of object biography, chaine operatoire (sequence of making from raw materials to finished things), but also both practical and scientific analytical methods, artefact photography, illustration, etc - vital skills for anybody wishing to engage with "things” in their career. This module will provide students with an in-depth introduction to the identification, analysis, and interpretation of archaeological material culture (i.e. objects produced and used by past peoples). While standard approaches to object analysis and interpretation have tended to emphasise their finished form or aesthetic characteristics, this module will add to this by examining the evidence for production, making and use. By incorporating these elements, a more holistic understanding of material culture can be gained, allowing us to better research and understand how and why these objects came to be made / used. The overall objective in this module will be for you to learn how researchers have sought to describe, analyse and think about some of the more common archaeological artefact types. You will be introduced to specific terminologies, methods for data capture and some of the more common analytical techniques used by specialists and researchers, including microscopy, lipid analysis, archaeometallurgy, spectroscopy and 3D modelling. A key focus of this module will be assessing various approaches taken by researchers to answer specific research questions and their application of analytical techniques. Teaching using online lectures, videos, images, technical graphics, and practical demonstrations by archaeologists.

•      ARCH41360: Ancient Crafts, Traditional Practices and Storytelling Today (10 credits) Experimental archaeology investigates how people in the past built and occupied houses, managed and interacted with their landscapes, made objects using sophisticated knowledge of materials and how natural processes have impacted archaeological remains. It also enables us to reflect on past materialities through practical engagement with ancient technologies, which provides us embodied experiences of raw materials, processes and technologies not normally used today. For archaeologists interested in material culture, this module allows us to directly explore how archaeology truly is the “discipline of things”. This module introduces you to the practical aspects of experimental archaeology and ancient technologies. You will design and complete a series of specific practical tasks investigating aspects of past crafts and technologies, as agreed with you by the programme archaeologists, and carried out by you in your own home place. You will make something. You will participate in the class in reflecting on a range of practical experiments on houses, stone/flint, pottery, organics, food & cooking, amongst other potential topics. The module will be primarily assessed by means of 1) a Reflective Learning Journal and 2) a Portfolio, whereby you produce Blog Post(s), Podcast(s), or a YouTube/Vimeo video telling stories about your preferred craft or technology. Seminars held online during term will help you design, carry out, and report on your project.


GradCert Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture (W499) Part Time
EU/NONEU    fee per credit - € 77.7

***Fees are subject to change

We expect the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (Distance Learning) fees to be €77.70 per credit (€2,331 for 30 credits) for both EU and non-EU students (no difference made).

- Entry to the Graduate Certificate in Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (online) will typically be based on an honours university degree (GPA 2.7, NFQ Level 8, or the international equivalent). The course is designed to accommodate applicants with a wide variety of academic qualifications including Archaeology, History, Architecture, Social Sciences, Classics, Geography, Biology, Arts, Fine Art, Agriculture, Engineering, Environmental Science and Economics, Design and Art.


- You may instead have equivalent work experience in the area of traditional crafts, museum studies or heritage communication. Applicants with such experience in traditional crafts, technologies, living history, re-enactment and heritage presentation and related fields are welcome to apply (please discuss with programme coordinator by email to 


. We intend to welcome a diverse group of participants with a wide range of experience in different areas of crafts, making and heritage, to provide for a dynamic forum for discussion and interaction.


If English is not your native language, proof of proficiency in English will be required, unless you took your primary degree through English. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL Internet Based Test is 90, on the IELTS system it is 6.5.

How will students learn?

The Programme will be available online through Brightspace and other online resources.

•      Teaching and Learning strategies will be varied and include

-        Traditional learning activities including lectures, seminars, workshops and group work, available through Brightspace

-        Use of virtual teaching environments (Zoom or Brightspace Virtual Classroom) to enable UCD and other

-        International experts will contribute to key sessions/discussion

-        Practical demonstrations online using Videos, including synchronous ones, at CEAMC.

The online format allows you to study at your own pace, any place and any time (within given timeframes). You will be assessed through continuous assessment which will be submitted online and you will be asked to participate in online discussion forums.

The advantages of Distant Learning include reduced costs associated with travel and living abroad, however it is very different to traditional, on-campus courses with face-to-face lectures and access to your tutors and peers. It is important that you like to learn independently, that you are self-motivated and that you can manage time effectively.

The online forum will allow you to share your crafts and experimental archaeological or living history experiences with other practitioners and people with similar interests from a diverse range of countries and backgrounds, which will create a dynamic and valuable learning environment.

•      Assessments may include

-        Projects, portfolios and essays focused on key themes

-        Oral presentations through Zoom/Brightspace

-        Development and publication of Videos in Vimeo/YouTube of own projects

The following entry routes are available:

Grad Cert Experimental Archaeology & Material Culture PT (W499)
1 Years
Part Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised