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Guide to studying Archaeology

Archaeology offers a unique historical and cultural experience, allowing you to engage with past languages and civilisations.

Archeology students to work in the excavations of the ancient Heraclea


  1. What's Archaeology?

  2. Why study Archaeology?

  3. What jobs can you get as an Archaeology graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of humans and prehistory, conducted through the act of excavation and analysis.

It’s the practical approach to historical enquiry as opposed to History and Classics & Ancient History, which are often concerned with literary sources more than physical remains such as jewellery, skeletons and ruins.

Similar courses for Archaeology include: 

  • Forensic & Archaeological Sciences

Why study Archaeology?

Archaeology helps us to better understand the genesis of our own species. What our distant ancestors ate, wore, lived in and prayed to are all things we can potentially find out with the help of Archaeology. 

Read our six reasons to study Archaeology for more information on studying this course. 

Archaeological excavation

What jobs can you get as an Archaeology graduate?

An Archaeology degree helps you develop a range of useful and extrapolatable skills.

These include teamwork and leadership, which are developed on fieldwork excursions; computing skills; clear written communication skills; and attention to detail, which you'll build when looking for nuances in mysterious artefacts.

The type of jobs available can vary for Archaeology graduates. Some of the more obvious choices are archaeologist, teacher, lecturer, government officer, and work within the development in an archaeological capacity.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Archaeology have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Archaeology students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

Useful A Levels (or equivalent) to have for an Archaeology course include history, geography, a foreign language, mathematics, physics and religious studies.

Different institutions will ask for different grades. You should always make sure to confirm with your chosen university.

What degrees can you study?

  • BA Archaeology
  • BSc Archaeology
  • BSc Bioarchaeology

There are also many joint honours opportunities for Archaeology students.

How will you be assessed?

Essay-based exams are used across most institutions, and coursework is commonplace. A dissertation is also required in the final two years of study. Some institutions use fieldwork portfolios as a method of assessment.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

There's a broad range of postgraduate options, including:

  • MA Archaeology
  • MSc Archaeology
  • PhD Archaeology
  • MPhil Archaeology

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