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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Assyriology is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil in Assyriology delivers competence in language and specialist knowledge of culture and history over a relatively short time. All MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology take a Research Skills module and write a dissertation (15,000 words maximum). The MPhil in Assyriology also includes taught modules, chosen in consultation with the supervisor according to the student's interests. Students will learn Akkadian at either an introductory or more advanced level depending on previous experience. Students may be required to give in-class presentations.

One to one supervision

Supervisions with module coordinators or their regular supervisor give the student the opportunity to discuss general and specific issues in the conduct of the course. A supervisor, possibly but not necessarily the same one, will also be appointed for the dissertation, to help with the choice of topic and monitor the progress of the student’s research for the dissertation throughout the year. Supervisions provide the student with an opportunity to seek academic information and advice and they provide the forum to monitor students' progress.

Students can normally expect to have around eight supervision sessions per year depending on the nature of
their course and dissertation.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Seminars are designed to provide students with intensive engagement with academic staff across a wide range of specialisms relevant to the courses selected. Seminars are designed to be interactive and preparation and participation in seminars is expected of all students. In all taught modules, students may be required to give seminar-style presentations from time to time. Most modules include a number of seminars during Michaelmas and Lent terms. The amount of time dedicated to seminars and classes will vary depending on the student's module choices.


Lectures are designed to present and discuss the major academic disciplines covered in each module. Most non-language modules are structured around lecture-based teaching. The amount of time spent in lectures will vary depending on the student's module choices.


The MPhil in Assyriology does not include practical sessions as a component of the course, except insofar as sessions may be held in museums, to examine original cuneiform inscriptions. Students choosing optional modules offered in the MPhil in Archaeology may have practical sessions once or twice a term depending on their choice of module.

Small group teaching

MPhil class sizes tend to be small for most modules and a significant portion of teaching is therefore delivered
in small groups.

Journal clubs

Students are encouraged to involve themselves in the department's graduate-run journal, the 'Archaeological
Review from Cambridge'.


All MPhil students are usually required to make a presentation to staff and peers as part of the assessed component of their Research Skills module.


Students receive written feedback on all assessed essays and reports from internal markers via the Graduate Administrator. Final coursework and exam marks are made available to students following the final examiners meeting in September.

Students are invited to group meetings throughout the year to discuss progress and concerns in order to address issues as and when they arise.

All students will undergo regular supervision sessions with their dissertation supervisor.



The dissertation is an extended piece of independent, original research. Students work with their supervisor to formulate a dissertation project, carry out research for it and write it up. The topic of the dissertation has to be approved by the Faculty Degree Committee; the dissertation is of maximum 15,000 words (excluding bibliography, tables, figures and appendices) and is due at the end of August; it counts as 50 per cent of the student’s final mark.


Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology are usually required to produce between one and four assessed essays depending on their chosen course of study and the modules they select. The essays are between 3,000 and 4,000 words and are submitted in Michaelmas, Lent and/or Easter terms.

Written examination

Students taking the MPhil in Assyriology are required to sit written examinations for some modules. Language modules have a written exam in Easter term. For language modules, choice of module is subject to the student’s prior experience in order to ensure that they have the preparation to benefit from the module taken; the course co-ordinator will provide guidance on this.


Attendance at the relevant Research Skills workshops is required of all MPhil students in the Department of Archaeology. The Research Skills module is worth five per cent of the overall MPhil degree. Its mode of assessment may include a research proposal of specified length, and/or an oral presentation (supported by visual aids) to teaching staff and peers.

The assessment of G23 Advanced Akkadian includes assessed coursework in the form of a philological commentary and cuneiform copy.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Division of Archaeology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
April 26, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2019

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 10, 2018

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