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Archaeology courses

Can you picture yourself exploring the tombs of kings or unearthing the next Staffordshire Hoard? Archaeology could be for you – but remember you’ll probably spend your days working with more mundane matters. Archaeology blends history with science, to draw meaning from everyday objects to shine a light on past worlds using innovative techniques. You can specialise by period or take a more generalist route.

Studying archaeology at university

Example course modules

  • Analysis of artefacts
  • Apocalypse then: 14th century
  • Birth of modern Europe
  • Wales: princes to Tudors
  • Archaeological excavation
  • Introduction to prehistory
  • Patterns of the past
  • Rethinking archaeology: theory and interpretation
  • Interpreting sites and landscapes
  • Brooches, beads, swords and shields: early medieval culture

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 59%
    Male : 41%
  • Mature : 30%
    School leaver : 70%
  • Full-time : 85%
    Part-time : 15%

What students say about archaeology

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • No Specific Requirements

Useful to have

  • history

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
There don't tend to be many archaeology undergraduates out there (just over 800 graduated in 2012) but it's quite a popular subject at postgraduate level. In fact, over a quarter of archaeology graduates take some kind of further study when they graduate. When you look at the stats, be aware that junior jobs in archaeology are not always well paid at the start of your career, and that temporary contracts or even unpaid work are not uncommon. The archaeology graduates of 2012 found jobs in management and heritage and environment work, as well as more conventional graduate jobs in business and the finance industry.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Natural and social science professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Field archaeologist
  • Exhibitions curator
  • Appraiser/valuer

Other real-life job examples

  • Historic buildings inspector
  • Social sciences researcher
  • Youth project leader

What employers like about this subject

A degree in archaeology will let you develop subject-specific skills that include how to use and interpret very diverse sources of evidence; good fieldwork, post-excavation and laboratory skills, and how to collect and interpret complex data. An archaeology student can also develop useful transferable skills that include IT, numeracy, communication, negotiating and influencing, team-working, research and self-motivation. These skills are in demand from employers including archaeology and heritage, museums, universities, accountancy and audit, defence, hospitals and government.