Archaeology (BSc)

Our Archaeology degree schemes are noted for their geographical and chronological breadth and the range of student choice they offer.

Archaeology provides a unique perspective as the only subject which deals with all the temporal and spatial dimensions of the human past.  Defined as the study of the human past through its material remains, it studies a very broad range of evidence including landscapes, buildings and monuments; buried material such as artefacts, biological remains, and structures; and written sources. 

Archaeology ranges chronologically from the earliest hominids circa five million years ago to the present day, and geographically across the entire inhabited world. 

The BSc Archaeology honours degree programme will train you in the science of investigation. It addresses the 'big questions' about the human past over the huge periods of time for which there are no written records, so that the forensic skills of the archaeologist are to the fore.

The aims of the BSc Archaeology degree are to:

  • familiarise you with the disciplined and critical study of the past through the work of archaeologists
  • provide you with the expertise to assemble and critically analyse archaeological evidence.
  • provide you with the understanding of how to assemble the varied types of archaeological evidence and, where appropriate, written source material available for the study of these fields,
  • promote critical understanding of the political, social and cultural structures and achievements of past societies.
  • cultivate your archaeological skills and transferable skills, including, the ability to recover, record and assess evidence of widely differing kinds, to make honest and informed judgements, and to express them cogently in speech and writing.

Distinctive features

The Archaeology degree schemes are noted for their geographical and chronological breadth and the range of choice they offer.  As a student at one of the highly respected Russell group universities, you will learn with staff who undertake exciting research in archaeology and history as well as developing innovative techniques in forensics, dating, and osteology.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF402
Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically has 320 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of History, Archaeology and Religion typically receives 1800 applications.
Typical A level offerABB-BBC, preferably including a science. Note: Normally no offers are made on a point basis. We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking in our offers.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrades ABB-BBC from the Welsh Bacc and two A levels.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34-31 points, including scores of 5/4 at Higher Level.
Other qualificationsArchaeology welcomes students with non-traditional qualifications and those with relevant practical experience. For our BSc Archaeology (F402) we will accept the Access to HE Diploma in Science or combined sciences, or the Access to Humanities route for admission sometimes subject to a successful interview. Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course
Admissions tutor(s)

The BSc Archaeology is a three-year degree which provides a level of training, skill and knowledge that is respected within professional archaeology and which serves you well when applying for postgraduate study, for employment in archaeology and the heritage sector, and for employment outside of the discipline.  It offers a huge range of choices which you can tailor to your own interests.  You will study 120 credits of modules in each year.

 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.

Year one

In the first year of the BA Archaeology degree, you will study 80 credits of modules in Archaeology and 40 credits from another subject of your choice from either within the School or from other participating Academic Schools. 

The Archaeology modules aim to introduce you to the techniques and approaches that archaeologists employ, as well as to the archaeology of specific societies. 

The Year Two fieldwork project is taken in the summer at the end of the first year, although it is credited to the Autumn Semester of Year Two.  This project is taught through four-weeks of student participation on archaeological excavations, field-surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.

Year two

Years two and three are taught together as ‘Part Two’ and modules are offered on alternate years.  Over the two years, you must complete 240 credits of modules of which 70 credits consist of core requirements, at least 70 more must consist of archaeological science modules, and 60-100 credits come from a wide range of period, topic, or technique specific modules within Archaeology and Ancient History, allowing you a great deal of flexibility to follow the subjects they are most interested in. 

When studying this course you may take up to 40 credits from another Academic School (subject to approval by the Board of Studies). 

In Year Two, you will take the Archaeological Independent Study module and in the Year Three you have the option of taking the Archaeology Dissertation module.  In both these modules you have the chance to follow your own special interests. 

The Year Three fieldwork project is taken in the summer at the end of the second year, although it is credited to the Autumn Semester of Year Three.  This project is taught through four-weeks of student participation on archaeological excavations, field-surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.

Year three

 

Years two and three are taught together as ‘Part Two’ and modules are offered on alternate years.  Over the two years, you must complete 240 credits of modules of which 70 credits consist of core requirements, at least 70 more must consist of archaeological science modules, and 60-100 credits come from a wide range of period, topic, or technique specific modules within Archaeology and Ancient History, allowing you a great deal of flexibility to follow the subjects they are most interested in. 

When studying this course you may take up to 40 credits from another Academic School (subject to approval by the Board of Studies). 

In Year Two, you will take the Archaeological Independent Study module and in the Year Three you have the option of taking the Archaeology Dissertation module.  In both these modules you have the chance to follow your own special interests. 

The Year Three fieldwork project is taken in the summer at the end of the second year, although it is credited to the Autumn Semester of Year Three.  This project is taught through four-weeks of student participation on archaeological excavations, field-surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

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.

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.

Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop your own ideas.  Seminars provide an opportunity for you to explore the ideas outlined in the lecture in a small group environment.

Seminars usually consist of about 15 students and the seminar leader (a member of the teaching team). Seminars may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small group work and student-led presentations. They offer a rewarding opportunity to engage critically with the key ideas and reading of a topic, and to explore areas of particular interest with an expert in the field.

Archaeological skills are promoted through a range of designed practicals and direct participation on fieldwork projects, including excavation, surveys, post-excavation programmes and curatorial projects in museums.

How will I be supported?

All modules make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access course materials and links to related reading and online resources. In addition to the main University libraries, you will have access to the Sheila White Library, which contains additional copies of books on Greek and Roman history and culture.

You will be assigned a Personal Tutor, who is able to advise you on academic and pastoral matters in a confidential and informal manner. Personal Tutors meet with you regularly to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance, and are available for consultation at other times as needed. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are made available through a structured programme of Personal Development Planning and through scheduled meetings with Personal Tutors.

Feedback

Formative feedback is provided during seminars, essay tutorials, laboratories and fieldwork placements. Feedback is also provided via written work proformas and exam mark returns.

How will I be assessed?

Intellectual skills are assessed summatively through written coursework, unseen examinations, class/laboratory tests and oral presentations. Practical archaeological skills are assessed summatively through written coursework, class tests and fieldwork reports. Formative assessment is provided during seminars, coursework and during fieldwork placements.

Assessment of transferable skills is through coursework, independent study and dissertation modules, presentations and written examinations. Teamwork is assessed in fieldwork and through collaborative projects such as site visits and study tours.

Formative feedback is provided during seminars, essay tutorials, laboratories and fieldwork placements. Feedback is also provided via written work proformas and exam mark returns.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Archaeology combines a range of practical and research skills that encourage you to develop a range of discipline-specific skills that employer’s value. You will learn to assess critically a body of knowledge, to develop hypotheses, test them against qualitative and quantitative evidence, and present conclusions both in writing and orally. You will learn to work both independently and as part of a team.

Transferable Skills

  • Generation of coherent strategies and propositions in response to complex situations.
  • Structuring and writing reports of appropriate length on set questions and research topics.
  • Effective communication of ideas and arguments in oral and written presentations.
  • Organised and efficient working practices – individually as well as in a team.
  • Utilisation of information from a variety of resources, including libraries and the internet.
  • Employment of Information Technology e.g. spatial technologies (including GIS), visualization, data management, archaeological prospecting, modelling, social media, digital film and audio.
  • Rigorous and professional practices: able to take initiatives and accept significant responsibility within organisations.
  • Evidence based critical thinking

You can enhance your communications skills by working with schools, museums, businesses and community groups as part of our innovative public engagement activities. 

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.

An archaeology degree represents a challenging, interesting and exciting way to prepare for the future. 

In your archaeology course you will work as part of a team in the field and in the laboratory; you will research ideas, form opinions and present them in your own terms; you will develop your writing to address a range of audiences; you will use a range of software programmes and develop a wide range of practical skills. These transferable skills will be of benefit in your future career.

Our graduates have found work in journalism, banking, finance, teaching and a wide range of other areas. We organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help students identify their skills and attributes and the School has our own in-house Workplace Partnerships and Employability Officer. Many of our graduates enter professions which make direct use of their academic expertise but the majority compete very successfully in a wide range of other fields.

 

Jobs

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Lecturer
  • Heritage Conservationist

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will need suitable clothing (e.g. waterproofs and suitable footwear) and sometimes accommodation (e.g. tent and sleeping bag) for field trips and fieldwork.  The University has funds available for students experiencing financial difficulties in purchasing this equipment.

We offer workplace experience to you through our four-week, funded excavation, museum and heritage work placements at the end of the first and second year.

You are also encouraged and financially supported to attend fieldwork placements abroad. As an Archaeology student you are also encouraged to take advantage of the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP) which provides summer placements for undergraduates in the University research environment. CUROP offers a stipend to support a student on a placement of up to eight weeks duration, working with supervision on staff-defined research projects.

There are also opportunities to work with heritage industry professionals (e.g. Cadw) as part of fieldwork placements or the Heritage Communication module and to gain further experience in working with the public of all ages via a range of initiatives (e.g. the Guerilla Archaeology outreach group, the CAER heritage project and the Share With Schools scheme).

Finally, there are weekly research seminars with international guest speakers, a student Archaeology Society and a range of other events (e.g. conferences, Bushcraft weekends).

The Years Two and Three fieldwork projects are taken in the summer preceding those academic years.  The Fieldwork projects are taught through four weeks of student participation on archaeological excavations, field-surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.


Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.