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Archaeology degrees | course guide

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

CONTENTS

  1. What’s Archaeology?

  2. What Archaeology degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto an Archaeology degree?

  4. What topics does an Archaeology degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Archaeology?

  7. What do Archaeology graduates earn?

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

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Archaeology

  11. Have any questions?

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, ancient history and classics, which are often concerned with literary sources more than physical remains such as jewellery, skeletons and ruins.

What Archaeology degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Archaeology may be combined with related subjects, for example:

  • Archaeology and Anthropology BA
  • Archaeology BA/BSc
  • Archaeology/Forensic Investigation BA/BSc
  • Bioarchaeology BSc
  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History BA

Options may include an integrated foundation year, study abroad or professional placement.

What do you need to get onto an Archaeology degree?

Entry requirements for an Archaeology degree at a university range from 96–165 UCAS points. This could include the qualifications below.

  • A Levels: A*AA–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–DMM
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–AA)
  • International Baccalaureate: 39–26

Good subjects to have studied include:

  • History, geography, a foreign language, science or social science subjects or religious studies
  • General studies A Level may be excluded from offers

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience isn’t required but you could try contacting a local uni, museum or council to enquire about archaeological digs in your area, or check the websites of Current Archaeology magazine or the Council for British Archaeology
  • Involvement with a local history group or museum, or the Young Archaeologists Club
  • Furthering your knowledge through books, public lectures, Dig School videos, documentaries or insights from the websites of professional bodies or societies
  • Summer schools, if eligible, such as the Sutton Trust or UNIQ

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
  • Interview and entry assessments may be required by some universities

What topics does an Archaeology degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Archaeological skills: tools for research and analysis
  • Archaeology
  • Assyriology
  • Biological anthropology
  • Debates in world archaeology
  • Egyptology
  • Mesopotamian archaeology
  • Social anthropology
  • The archaeology of the British Isles

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module:

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Fieldwork portfolios
  • Group projects
  • Presentations
  • A dissertation is usually a final year option

Why study Archaeology?

Archaeology helps us to understand the genesis of our own species better. What our distant ancestors ate, wore, lived in and prayed to are all things we can potentially find out with the help of Archaeology. An Archaeology degree also helps you develop a range of useful and transferable skills.

Career-specific skills:

  • Specialist knowledge relating to certain periods of time or themes
  • Lab and field skills such as excavation and surveys
  • Scientific analysis in processing and interpreting data, and familiarity with using GIS (geographic information systems)

Transferable skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Collaboration
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • IT skills
  • Leadership
  • Presentation
  • Research
  • Written communication

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), providing a route towards professional membership
  • Some degrees may also be accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences

What do Archaeology graduates earn?

Archaeology graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £16,000–£21,000.

If you are an experienced archaeologist, you could be paid up to £43,000 as a fieldwork project manager. Related work as a historic environment records manager could earn £30,500–£32,500.

Alternatively, if you take your forensic skills into a different career, as a police constable your salary would start at £21,000–£24,000 in England, depending on the force. After a two-to-three-year grounding in police work, you could specialise to become a crime scene investigator or forensic practitioner. Salaries for police constables can rise to just over £41,000.

What jobs can you get as an Archaeology graduate?

Some Archaeology graduates will work directly in archaeology, research or in the heritage sector. Your skills could also lead to careers in local councils, media, or business-related areas.

  • Archaeological clerk of works
  • Archaeological GIS technician
  • Archaeological illustrator
  • Archivist
  • Civil servant
  • Events coordinator
  • Human resource manager
  • Inspector of ancient monuments
  • Lecturer
  • Museum curator
  • Police constable
  • Principal archaeologist
  • Historic environment records officer
  • Recruitment consultant
  • Solicitor
  • Social researcher
  • Teacher

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

As well as postgraduate study focused on specific time periods or regions, you can also specialise in bioarchaeology to develop skills in relation to human or animal remains. Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Applied Landscape Archaeology MSc
  • Archaeology MA/MSc/MPhil/PhD
  • Bioarchaeology MSc
  • Egyptology MPhil
  • Experimental Archaeology MSc

Similar subjects to Archaeology

If you’re interested in the investigative application of science or people’s relationship with the land or the past, you could consider:

Have any questions?

If you’ve got any questions about studying Archaeology, you can email our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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