Archaeology and Ancient History (BA)
The integrated BA in Archaeology and Ancient History provides the ideal opportunity for students to combine traditional academic study with the development of practical skills.
The BA in Archaeology and Ancient History is an interdisciplinary programme that combines archaeological and historical approaches to the study of Europe and the Mediterranean from the fourth millennium BC to the eleventh century AD.
The main focus of the degree is the Greek and Roman world from the Aegean Bronze Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, but its scope extends from ancient Egypt to post-Roman Britain and the Byzantine Empire. It aims to develop students’ knowledge and critical understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural structures of ancient societies, which were significantly different from modern industrialised societies, but have exercised a profound and continuous influence on the subsequent development of European and many other societies and cultures.
The programme offers a balance between modules covering specific historical periods, thematic modules that examine broad social and cultural topics, such as warfare, gender, religion, art and science, and modules that provide training in archaeological skills, methods and techniques. During the summer after the first and second years, you will complete a four-week archaeological fieldwork placement; placements are arranged, approved, funded and assessed by the School.
You will also benefit from Archaeology & Conservation's facilities including bespoke teaching and research laboratories, dedicated geophysical and surveying equipment and a range of sophisticated equipment for the analysis of artefacts, including a scanning electron microscope.
BA Archaeology and Ancient History is designed to cultivate the skills of the historian and archaeologist, namely, the ability to assess evidence critically, to evaluate different interpretations of the evidence, to construct arguments on the basis of evidence, and to express opinions cogently in speech and in writing. The programme provides the training necessary for students who wish to study Ancient History or Archaeology at postgraduate level or to pursue a career in archaeology or the heritage sector, and a valuable range of intellectual and transferable skills for students who enter other professions.
|Entry point||September 2016|
|Typical places available||The School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically has 320 places available.|
|Typical applications received||The School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically receives 1800 applications.|
|Typical A level offer||ABB / BBB|
|Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offer||Grade A in the Core, with a AB at A-level|
|Typical International Baccalaureate offer||32 points, including scores of 5/4 at Higher Level|
|Other qualifications||Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.|
Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
|QAA subject benchmark|
Classics and Ancient History
Dr Louis Rawlings, Admissions Tutor
Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.
This is a three-year degree programme comprising of some core modules that provide essential skills and training as well as a wide variety of optional modules for you to select from in order to tailor your degree to meet your interests.
In the first year, students study three subjects: a general introduction to Greek and Roman history (Ancient History); a general introduction to the archaeology of Britain and the Mediterranean (Archaeology A); and either an introduction to archaeological skills (Archaeology B), or another subject of their choice.
Thus, in their first year, BA Archaeology and Ancient History students take the following modules:
Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) core and optional modules. These can be chosen from modules from participating Academic Schools.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Introduction to Roman History||HS3102||20 credits|
|Introduction to Ancient Greek History||HS3101||20 credits|
|The Archaeology of Mediterranean Societies: Egypt, Greece and Rome||HS2123||20 credits|
|Deep Histories: The Archaeology of Britain||HS2124||20 credits|
You take 120 credits of Ancient History and 120 credits of Archaeology across Years 2 and 3. In Year 2 you take a module on archaeological theory or historical methodology plus a fieldwork placement in the summer between Years 1 and 2 and an independent study on a topic of your choice. You will also take 70 credits of optional modules in either subject.
Students studying this course may take one or two modules from another Academic School, selected from the University’s Free Standing Module Collection.
You take 120 credits of Ancient History and 120 credits of Archaeology across Years 2 and 3. In Year 3, you take a 10-credit fieldwork module (in the summer between Years 2 and 3) and 110 credits of optional modules, which may include a dissertation on a topic of your choice (40 credits).
The School of History, Archaeology and Religion enables you to develop in a high-quality learning environment, supported by a student-orientated approach to the acquisition of knowledge and skills.
You will develop a range of intellectual skills: critical thinking, evaluating evidence, constructing evidence-based arguments, and presenting opinions effectively in writing and in debate. Additionally, you will gain practical skills such as team-working, independent research, and time management. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, practicals, field trips, and one-to-one tutorials. You will also undertake independent study and research, with guidance from tutors. Assessment, including coursework, exams, practical work, and oral presentations, will test the different skills you have learned.
Practical classes form an important part of our Archaeology programmes. They are designed to show you how theory works in practice by giving you hands-on experience.
The School believes in giving its graduates the best opportunities to find employment. We organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help students identify their skills and attributes.
Some of our graduates enter professions which make direct use of their academic expertise such as work in archives or museums. The majority however compete very successfully in a wide range of other fields.
In 2013/14, 92% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.
Fieldwork is an integral part of all our Archaeology degrees, giving our students hands-on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching.
Between year one and year two all students undertake a four week excavation or fieldwork project. This will be on an excavation in Britain or abroad or within one of our partner heritage organisations (e.g. the National Museum of Wales).
This lets you experience the excitement of archaeological discovery at first hand. Placements are arranged, approved, funded and assessed by the department, so that in this way, unlike some other institutions, your excavation performance counts toward your degree result. A second placement of four weeks takes place between year two and year three.
You will be engaged in the creation of new knowledge and the excitement of discovering the past. You will handle ancient artefacts and reveal ancient structures, perhaps handle the bones of our most ancient ancestors, or analyse the remains of ancient meals and rituals.
Recent department projects have included:
- the dramatic new discoveries at the Roman legionary fortress of Caerleon
- excavation of Ham Hill, the largest Iron Age hillfort in England
- fieldwork on the Egyptian catacombs at Saqqara
- Palaeolithic excavations in the Danube Gorges.
Projects led by Cardiff staff or colleagues from elsewhere have taken place in Romania, Germany, Crete, South Uist, Orkney and North Wales.
Many of you will not have excavated before and you will be introduced to the techniques of excavation and recording so that by the end of your degree you will be familiar with the main processes of archaeological fieldwork.
Whether you stay in archaeology, or take up employment elsewhere, your excavations and their team working and social dimensions will be one of your most memorable university experiences.
QAA subject benchmark
|QAA subject benchmark|
Classics and Ancient History
Overview and aims of this course/programme
The BA in Archaeology and Ancient History is an interdisciplinary programme that combines archaeological and historical approaches to the study of Europe and the Mediterranean from the fourth millennium BC to the eleventh century AD. The main focus of the degree is the Greek and Roman worldfrom the Aegean Bronze Ageto the fall of the Roman Empire, but its scope extends from ancient Egypt to post-Roman Britain and the Byzantine Empire.It aims to develop students’ knowledge and critical understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural structures of ancient societies, which were significantly different from modern industrialised societies, but have exercised a profound and continuous influence on the subsequent development of European and many other societies and cultures. The programme offers a balance between modules covering specific historical periods, thematic modules that examine broad social and cultural topics, such as warfare, gender, religion, art and science, and modules that provide training in archaeological skills, methods and techniques. It is designed to cultivate the skills of the historian and archaeologist, namely, the ability to assess evidence critically, to evaluate different interpretations of the evidence, to construct arguments on the basis of evidence, and to express opinions cogently in speech and in writing. The programme provides the training necessary for students who wish to study Ancient History or Archaeology at postgraduate level or to pursue a career in archaeology or the heritage sector, and a valuable range of transferable skills for students who enter other professions.
What should I know about year five?
Students are expected to attend all scheduled teaching, including lectures, seminars, classes, workshops and tutorials, and to engage in independent study outside scheduled teaching hours in order to familiarise themselves with a good range of primary evidence and modern approaches to the subject. Each 10-credit module should involve a minimum of 100 hours’ work.
Full expectations for students are outlined in the University’s Student Charter:
How is this course/programme structured?
The programme can be studied full-time over three years or part-time over six years. Students take 120 credits in each year,progressing from more general modules in the first year to more specialised modules in the second and third years.
In Year 1, students take: 40 credits of Ancient History modules, covering Greek and Roman history; 40 credits of Archaeology modules on key periods of British and world archaeology; and either an additional 40 credits of Archaeology modules, covering archaeological skills and theory, or 40 credits in another Humanities subject.
Over Years 2 and 3, students must study 120 credits of Ancient History and 120 credits of Archaeology, including at least one pair of complementary modules that examine the same period from a historical and an archaeological perspective.
In Year 2, they take 70 credits of optional modules, chosen from a range of 10-, 20- and 30-credit modules, and 50 credits of core modules: a fieldwork module, taken in the summer between Years 1 and 2 (10 credits); a module on archaeological theory or a practical course on using different types of historical evidence (20 credits); and an independent study on a topic of their choice (20 credits). In Year 3, students take a 10-credit fieldwork module (in the summer between Years 2 and 3) and 110 credits of optional modules, which may include a dissertation on a topic of their choice (40 credits). The two fieldwork placements last for four weeks each, and are arranged, approved, funded and assessed by the School.
What should I know about year four?
Yes. Students are expected to have suitable clothing for field trips and fieldwork (e.g. waterproofs and footwear); they may also need accommodation for field projects (e.g. tent and sleeping bag). The University has funds available for students experiencing financial difficulties in purchasing this equipment. All other equipment will be provided by the University, including tools and personal protective equipment for archaeological fieldwork, survey and remote sensing equipment, transport for field trips, laboratory facilities and analytical equipment, photographic equipment, computers and specialised software, such as GIS and graphics packages.
What should I know about year three?
Students will acquire and develop a range of essential transferable and discipline-specific skills, including:
- intellectual skills,such as critical thinking, reasoning, assimilating and summarising complex information and ideas, analysing and evaluating evidence, critiquing interpretations or arguments, coping with uncertainty or incomplete data, constructing arguments based on evidence, and presenting them effectively in writing and in debate;
- employability skills,such as effective communication through written reports and oral presentations, contributing to group discussions, working independently and in teams, using IT resources effectively, and time management;
- enterprise skills,such as creativity (practised especially in the Independent Study project), problem-solving, initiative, and independent thinking;
- research skills(developed especially in the Independent Study and Dissertation): defining a project, formulating research questions, locating relevant information, and presenting the results in an oral presentation and an extended written report;
- discipline-specific skills:analysing historical and archaeological problems, locating and using appropriate evidence and bibliographic resources, handling literary and archaeological material, analysing images, reading inscriptions, papyri and coins, and understanding the scholarly conventions used in relation to these types of evidence;
- practical archaeological skills,such as fieldwork skills, illustration, photography, surveying, geophysics, GIS, dating, scientific analysis of artefacts, bones, soils and plant remains, museum practice and public outreach;
- language skills:the programme offers an opportunity for students to study Latin and Greek at beginner’s and intermediate level, and to read texts in the original languages.
What should I know about the preliminary year?
Teaching is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars, classes, practicals, workshops, field trips and individual tutorials. Students also undertake independent study and research, under the guidance of a supervisor. Archaeological skills are promoted through direct participation on fieldwork projects, including excavation, surveys, post-excavation programmes and curatorial projects in museums. Alternative arrangements can be made for any students with disabilities for whom a full laboratory or fieldwork programme may present particular difficulties.
What should I know about year one?
Modules are assessed by various methods, including coursework essays, written reports, source criticisms, practical work, fieldwork, examinations, class tests and oral presentations. The format of the assessed work for the second-year Independent Study is chosen by the student; possible formats include an extended essay, a piece of creative writing, sample pages from a book or magazine, a teachers’ pack, a film, or a reconstruction drawing or model. Students have the option of writing a final-year dissertation of up to 10,000 words.
Students receive written feedback and a one-to-one tutorial on all their coursework assessments, and oral feedback on assessed presentations, seminar and practical work, and fieldwork. They also receive oral and written feedback from their supervisor on preparatory work and drafts for the Independent Study and Dissertation. Individual written feedback is provided for exams, as well as a general report on the performance of the class as a whole.
All modules make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where students can access course materials and links to related reading and online resources. In addition to the main University libraries, students have access to the Sheila White Library, which contains additional copies of books on Greek and Roman history and culture. All students are assigned a Personal Tutor, who is able to advise on academic and pastoral matters in a confidential and informal manner. Personal Tutors meet students regularly to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance, and are available for consultation at other times as needed. Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are made available through a structured programme of Personal Development Planning and through scheduled meetings with Personal Tutors.
Upon completion of the programme, a typical graduate will demonstrate:
- a knowledge and critical understanding of the history and material culture of the Greeks, Romans and related civilisations;
- a knowledge and critical understanding of a wide variety of primary source material, including literary, documentary, epigraphic, visual and archaeological evidence;
- a range of practical archaeological skills for recovering, recording and analysing archaeological evidence;
- an understanding of different modern approaches to the study of archaeology and ancient history, and an ability to evaluate and employ a range of approaches and methods;
- an awareness of different modern interpretations of archaeology and ancient history, and an ability to evaluate and critique them;
- an ability to construct arguments and solve problems through critical use of primary evidence, with reference to appropriate modern approaches;
- an ability to appreciate and understand different cultures;
- an ability to formulate research questions and to conduct independent research;
- an ability to present ideas and arguments effectively and coherently in written and oral form.
How will I be taught?
Students have the opportunity to study abroad during their second or third year through the Erasmus programme and other exchange agreements with universities overseas. The University-wide ‘Languages for All’ programme allows students to study a foreign language free of charge alongside their degree programme.
The programme also provides opportunities to work with heritage industry professionals (e.g. Cadw) as part of fieldwork placements, and to gain further experience in working with the public via a range of initiatives (e.g. the Guerrilla Archaeology outreach group, the CAER heritage project and the Share with Schools scheme).
Dr Louis Rawlings, Admissions Tutor
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