Underwater Archaeology

Master Of Professional Science

Underwater Archaeology Degree Track

Underwater archaeology is the study of the remains of past human activity through the exploration of a variety of submerged sites, from shipwrecks in saltwater to freshwater caves and springs. Archaeological sites and artifacts can play a large role in education, community cohesion, national identity, economic development, sustainable tourism, conservation, and, of course, entertainment among others. The material culture of our shared heritage and past provides cultural continuity, perspective, and a tangible link to those who preceded us. Shipwrecks and submerged sites have long fascinated humankind, perhaps never more so than in modern day, and given climate change and rising water temperatures worldwide, it is becoming even more important to document, study, manage, and find innovative ways to preserve what remains of our past.

Underwater Archaeology (UA)

The MPS Underwater Archaeology track (UARCH) is a two-year program that focuses on the theory, field techniques, and management practices necessary to work within the field of archaeology and the broader general field of marine sciences. Coursework integrates topics such as site mapping and documentation, interpretation of shipwrecks and submerged sites, best management practices, marine protected areas, and marine survey technology. UARCH students receive training as AAUS Science Divers during their first semester. Students will have opportunities to work side-by-side with professional archaeologists through internships and field projects with private, public, or non-governmental agencies, both nationally and internationally, and conduct relevant fieldwork. To view the 2-year schedule for this track, along with brief descriptions for select courses, please refer to Dr. Hanselmann’s Underwater Archaeology Track Guide.

Plan of Study Grid

Total Credit Hours30
FallCredit Hours
MES 632Theory and Method in Underwater and Maritime Archaeology3
MES 626Submerged Cultural Resource Management3
RSM 600 Research Diving Techniques3
RSM 667Motorboat Operator Certificate Course (MOCC)1-2
Credit Hours12
SpringCredit Hours
MES 614Underwater Archaeology Field Techniques3
MES 615Marine Archaeological Survey and Technology3
MES 660
& MES 661
Introduction to Marine Geographic Information Systems
and Introduction to Marine Geographic Information Systems - Laboratory
MES 672The Archaeology of Seafaring3
Credit Hours12
SummerCredit Hours
MES 691Maritime Archaeology Field Study3
MES 805MPS Internship3-6
Optional (MES 692)Archaeological Study of Submerged Pre-Contact Sites3
Optional (MES 693)Maritime Archaeology & Conquest of Mexico3
Credit Hours6
Credit Hours
Fall Year 2Credit Hours
MES 805MPS Internship (if continued from summer)1-2
Elective Course(s)Elective Course(s)
Credit Hours
Spring Year 2Credit Hours
Elective Course(s)Elective Course(s)
Elective Options

Students may take any elective on the RSMAS campus with the consent of their faculty advisor. Below are a few examples of courses past students in this program used as electives.

Course List

CodeTitleCredit Hours
ANTH 617Archaeometry: The Science of Material Culture
MES 665Exploration Technology & Media3
MES 618Coastal Zone Management3
MES 616Ocean Policy & Development & Analysis3
MES 720Coastal Law & Policy3
MES 674From Gold to Glory: Evolving History & Ethics of Exploration3
MES 664Citizen Participatory Science3
OCE 642Physics of Remote Sensing I: Passive Systems3
OCE 643Physics of Remote Sensing II: Active Systems3
MBE 716Bayesian Statistics of Marine Scientists3
MES 606Advanced Fieldwork in Coastal Cultures3
MES 610Environmental Planning and the Environmental Impact Statement3
MES 710International Ocean Law And Governance3
RSM 646Scientific Communication: Presentation Bootcamp1
For more details, visit the UM Bulletin