Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology and focuses on the study of human history through artefacts, physical remains and the excavation of sites. Archaeology courses are studied at the undergraduate study level to enhance a student’s understanding of archaeological concepts and techniques.
Archaeology courses are usually studied as a Bachelor of Arts degree; however, some institutions offer the degree as a Bachelor of Science. An archaeology course normally takes three years of full time study to complete. Some institutions offer students the choice to study archaeology as a four year degree with a yearlong work placement in the industry, or a year abroad.
Throughout the degree students will also be required to undertake a specific length of field work to contribute to their learning and experience within the field. This will help with the student’s studies and future employability within the industry.
During the first stage of an archaeology degree students are introduced to various study modules including social anthropology, field methods, history and theory, archaeological excavation and the origins of humanity. The second stage of study includes modules such as interpreting archaeological evidence, ancient warfare, and European prehistory. Students are encouraged to specialise their skills during stage two by being able to choose their optional modules to study alongside these core modules. The final stage of study focuses mainly on the independent study conducted by the student, as well as a few optional study modules.
Over 60 institutions offer archaeology courses at the degree level with the top five being University College London, Oxford University, University of Cambridge, University of York, and the University of Liverpool. To gain entry to these institutions students must have gained three A Level grades A*AA – BBB. Some universities desire students to have an academic background in both arts and sciences, as well as GCSE grade C and above in both English and Maths.
Entrance to an archaeology course may vary depending on the institution to which you are applying, and you are advised to contact the institution for more information.
After completing an archaeology course, graduates are well equipped with the skills necessary to become employed within the archaeology, heritage and museums industry. It is also possible for archaeology graduates to gain roles within the UK civil service and police, law, engineering, and business industries.
Alternatively, graduates can opt to study a postgraduate degree in archaeology to further their knowledge within specialised fields of the subject. Some courses available include bioarchaeology, early prehistory, and zoo archaeology. A postgraduate archaeology course takes around twelve months of full time study to complete, and normally requires a 2:1 honours degree in a related field of study.