Archaeology (BSc)

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

Archaeology is 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, as well as combining written records with material evidence in the investigation of historical periods.

The Archaeology degree schemes at Cardiff are noted for their geographical and chronological breadth and the range of student choice they offer. They focus on the British Isles, Europe, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. 

As a student at one of the highly respected Russell group universities, you will learn with staff who undertake exciting, new research on archaeology and history as well as developing innovative techniques in forensics, dating, and osteology. You will be studying in a vibrant and exciting capital city with the university campus at its heart but close to some of the richest archaeological landscapes and monuments in Britain. 

Facilities

You will 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 and biological materials. 

Placements

During the summer after each of your first two years, you will also complete a four-week placement 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 School, so that in this way, unlike some other institutions, your excavation performance counts toward your degree result.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF402
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
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
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core, with an BB at A-level
Typical International Baccalaureate offer28-36 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.
QAA subject benchmark

Archaeology

Admissions tutor(s)

Mrs Sarah Tovey, Course Administrator

Dr Andrew Cochrane, 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.

The Bachelor of Science in Archaeology is a three-year degree which provides a level of training, skill and knowledge that is respected within professional archaeology and which serves students well when applying for postgraduate study, for employment in archaeology and the heritage sector, and for employment outside of the discipline.

Year one

In the first year of the BSc Archaeology degree, students study three subjects: a general introduction to the human past; a more detailed introduction to archaeological skills; and any other subject offered by the university which is timetable-compatible. Thus, in their first year, BSc Archaeology students take the following compulsory modules

Students studying this course will be able to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) Core and Optional modules from another participating Academic School. An overview of the module collections available can be found here.

Year two

Students must complete 240 credits of modules of which 80 credits consist of core requirements. The remaining 160 credits come from a wide range of period, topic, or technique specific modules.

Students studying this course may take one or two modules from another Academic School, selected from the University’s Free Standing Module Collection.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Archaeology Fieldwork 1HS234110 credits
Independent Science ProjectHS243420 credits
The History of Archaeological ThoughtHS235020 credits

Year three

Students must complete 240 credits of modules of which 80 credits consist of core requirements. The remaining 160 credits come from a wide range of period, topic, or technique specific modules.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Archaeology Fieldwork 1HS234110 credits
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.

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.

In studying archaeology at Cardiff, you will encounter new ways of looking, thinking and doing. You will examine evidence from a wide range of sources, such as bones, insects, potsherds and coins. You will develop your own arguments based upon your interpretation of the archaeological record. You will be able use a range of sophisticated surveying methods and, if you wish, you will have the opportunity to use advanced techniques of scientific analysis. You will excavate your first potsherd, stone tool or coin.

How you will learn

The study of the past requires a wide range of skills, and when you have completed your degree, you will take them with you. 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, no matter what path you decide to take.

You will receive written and oral feedback from module tutors on your assessed course work. Each student is allocated with a personal tutor who you will meet with regularly throughout the year to discuss your personal development. Every member of staff has weekly office hours advertising when they are available for students to drop in for further support.

An archaeology degree represents a challenging, interesting and exciting way to prepare for the future. The School of History, Archaeology and Religion believes in giving its graduates the best opportunities to find employment. The study of the past requires a wide range of skills, and when you have completed your degree, you will take them with you. 

This degree provides a level of training, skill and knowledge that is respected within professional archaeology and will serve you well when applying for postgraduate study, for employment in archaeology and the heritage sector. 

Many 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.

Transferable skills

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, no matter what path you decide to take.

We focus on providing our students with the chance to work in schools, museums and community groups to enhance their communication skills in a number of innovative public engagement activities. Archaeology's diverse scientific and human skills make our graduates attractive to a wide range of employers.

We believe that Archaeology students are particularly well placed to compete for employment as their degree involves a range of practical and academic skills which have a wide value beyond archaeology. Our graduates have found work in journalism, banking, finance, teaching and a wide range of other areas.

We also organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help students identify their skills and attributes.

Jobs

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Lecturer
  • Heritage Conservationist

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.

Hands on from the start

You will be out in the field with us within a few weeks of joining us, visiting some of the key sites in the locality which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your programme in informal surroundings, and meet some of your lecturers outside of the classroom.

Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips to sites like the Avebury stone circles, Caerleon Roman legionary fortress, Cirencester Roman and medieval town and Tintern Cistercian Abbey. You will learn how to read monuments and landscapes and evaluate the impact of modern heritage presentation on ancient monuments.

Four week project

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.

Learning techniques

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.

Duration

3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

40

 

Applications received

Typical applications received

130 applications

Accreditations

QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Archaeology

Overview and aims of this course/programme

Archaeology provides a unique perspective as the only subject, which deals all the temporal and spatial dimensions of the human past.  Defined as the study of human past through its material remains it includes a very broad range of evidence including landscapes, buildings and monuments; buried material such as artefacts, biological remains, and structures; and written sources.  Archaeology can range chronologically from the earliest hominids circa five million years ago to the present day and geographically across the entire inhabited world.

The BSc aims to:

  • familiarise students with the disciplined and critical study of the past through the work of archaeologists
  • provide students with the expertise to assemble and critically analyse archaeological evidence.
  • provide 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 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.

What should I know about year five?

As a student, you are expected to demonstrate that you are progressing and engaged  academically by regularly attending lectures, laboratory classes, seminars, fieldtrips, fieldwork and tutorials

A 10 credit module will normally comprise a minimum of eighty study hours plus associated assessment. This means that a 20 credit module requires 160 hours of work plus time spent on assessed work. Examinations and assessed work are marked on the assumption that you have fulfilled these requirements.

What this means in practice, is that during each semester a student in full-time education is expected to spend the equivalent of 40 hours per week on their studies. These hours include attendance at lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials, with the remainder of the time spent in independent study, particularly in reading and in making notes on what you have read in preparation for seminars, and whenappropriate, in preparing and writing items of coursework and revising for and sitting examinations. Remember that Archaeological Fieldwork (Years 2 and 3), Independent  Study (Year 2) and the Dissertation (Year 3) also count as modules.

It is extremely important that you attend all of your classes for the following reasons:

  • It is in the lectures that you find out what the key topics in your subject are, which can help you structure your additional reading.

  • Your seminars are the place for you to discuss issues raised in the course and from your reading, and to enhance and develop your understanding.

  • Laboratory courses provide an overview of theory, application, and hands-on experience in both archaeological and scientific techniques

  • Your field trips and fieldwork training introduce you to vital aspect of archaeology which enables archaeologists to develop their understanding of past societies at a detailed level.  As well as teaching, important employability skills are developed - such as teamwork, task management, documentation, problem solving, health and safety awareness, report writing, quantitative data handling and perseverance in carrying out sustained physical and mental work).

  • All forms of classes will help you to prepare for your assessed work

  • Your presence can also help others to learn (as well as you), whilst student absence disrupts the learning process for the whole group.

Attendance at lectures, laboratory classes, seminars, field trips, fieldwork and tutorials is compulsory.  Therefore, if you are unable to attend, you must notify your tutor or the Archaeology secretary in advance by telephone, by email or in writing in order to explain your absence. Further information on illness, reporting extenuating circumstances, and leave of absences can be found in the Archaeology Handbooks and Academic Regulations Handbook.

The Department expects that Students will:

  • attend all classes, punctually, and to explain any absence (in advance where possible)

  • prepare adequately for and contribute to seminars, tutorials, laboratory classes, field trips and fieldwork

  • avoid plagiarism (plagiarism being work which uses the words or ideas of others without acknowledging them as such)

  • take responsibility for their own learning, with appropriate guidance  monitor their own progress and take account of the feedback given

  • show respect for their fellow students, tutors and the learning environment

  • manage their time effectively so that they are adequately prepared for all classes and assignments

  • complete their assessments on time and in compliance with the instructions given

  • take responsibility for advising themselves of the regulations governing assessments

  • ensure that they are registered for the requisite number of modules and that the academic registry are aware of which modules they are taking

  • read all handbooks carefully and take appropriate action

  • regularly access their University e-mail account

  • ask members of staff before using their names as referee

How is this course/programme structured?

Year One

In the first year of the BSc Archaeology degree, students study three subjects: a general introduction to the human past; a more detailed introduction to archaeological skills; and any other subject offered by the university which is timetable-compatible. Thus, in their first year, BSc Archaeology students take the following compulsory modules

  • British Prehistory
  • Archaeology of the Greek and Roman World
  • Post-Roman and Medieval Britain
  • Environmental and Economic Archaeology
  • Archaeological Skills
  • Great Discoveries in Archaeology

and one of the optional modules:

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Human Origins, Complexity and Civilisation

You will take an additional 40 credits of modules from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion or from any other school or department of the university (scheduling/timetabling conflicts and entry requirements permitting). Year 1 Ancient History is a popular choice (though many other possible combinations exist) with two 20 credit modules:

  • Introduction to Ancient Greek History
  • Introduction to Roman History

As an Archaeology student, you will undertake the first of two 4 week placements at the end of the First Year this contributes toward Year two marks.  A second period of 4 weeks in year 2 contributes to the final year assessment.  These placements are arranged, approved, funded and assessed by the Department.

Archaeology Years 2 & 3

In the second and third years, students must complete 240 credits of modules of which 80 credits consist of core requirements and 70 are core science modules. The remaining 110 credits come from a wide range of period, topic, or technique specific modules and students have a great deal of flexibility to follow the subjects they are most interested in.

Core BSc core archaeology modules:

  • Archaeological Illustration
  • An Independent Archaeological study of your choice
  • Archaeological Fieldwork
  • Archaeological Theory
  • Archaeological Science

The science modules in Years Two and Three cover themes such as:

  • Forensic and Osteoarchaeology
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Heritage Communication
  • Museum environments
  • Technology and Materials
  • Computing and Geographical Information Systems
  • Geophysics

And optional modules such as

  • Egyptian Archaeology
  • Specialist modules on Prehistoric Europe from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age
  • The Greek and Roman worlds
  • Dark Age and Viking Britain
  • Ethnoarchaeology

Science based modules covering analysis, methods and the structure and deterioration of organic, inorganic, metals and wet wood are also available.

In Year Two, you will take the Archaeological Science Independent Study module and in the Year Three you have the option of taking the Archaeology Science Dissertation module.  In both these modules you have the chance to follow your own special interests. During the summer after the second year, all students complete their second compulsory placement of fieldwork; placements are arranged, approved, funded and assessed by the Department.

What should I know about year four?

What the student should provide:

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.

What the University will provide:

  • tools and  personal protective equipment for archaeological fieldwork
  • survey and remote sensing equipment for archaeological fieldwork including total stations, survey and navigation grade GPS systems and resistivity and magnetometer geophysics systems.
  • departmental minibus for field trips and field work. 
  • range of teaching and research archaeological and conservation science laboratories
  • state-of-the art conservation laboratories, one environmental laboratory, osteoarchaeology and materials analysis laboratories, sample preparation laboratory, environmental chambers, a kiln, analytical equipment including a microscopy suite, oxygen meters, a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer, Scanning Electron Microscope, Transmission Electron Microscope, X-ray Diffraction and portable XRF.
  • dedicated computing suite for teaching and learning with 24 networked computers including Geographical Information Systems for spatial analysis.
  • digital photographic and visual evidence studio equipped with Nikon and Pentax cameras with processing facilities for the production, manipulation and storage of conventional and digital photographs and other visual records (e.g.  Adode Creative Suite) including high quality printing and plotting facilities.

What should I know about year three?

Students will practise and develop the following skills

Transferable Skills

  • Generation of coherent strategies and propositionsin response to complex situations.
  • Structuring and writing reportsof appropriate length on set questions and research topics.
  • Effective communicationof ideas and arguments in oral and written presentations.
  • Organised and efficient workingpractices – individually as well as in a team.
  • Access to and utilisationof information from a variety of resources, including libraries and the internet.
  • Employment of Information Technology e.g. word processing, 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.
  • Also develop evidence based critical thinking?Skills on cpd via dedicated seminars?

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Archaeology modules are taught through a combination of lectures, private study, seminars, practicals with individual supervision of dissertations and fieldwork; the precise methods depend on the modules you are taking. Archaeology fieldwork includes one-day site visits as well as extensive periods of excavation, laboratory analyses or museum-based study in locations as close as Stonehenge and Orkney or as distant as Africa and the Middle East.

Intellectual skills are promoted through the study of selected, distinct periods and themes, with detailed attention to the range of evidence available and to the history of their study by past scholars. Application and development of these skills takes place via site visits, study tours, lectures, laboratory classes, seminars and tutorials. Tutorials are an opportunity for one to one discussion of pieces of work, such as essays, submitted as part of the course assessment. The Independent Second Year Study introduces students to research aims and methods, which are developed through the optional Dissertation.

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.

The communication of ideas and strategies for dealing with data analysis is integral to all modules. Development of library and research skills is promoted in year one and advanced in years two and three.

What should I know about year one?

Assessment:

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.

Feedback:

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

Alternative arrangements can be made for any students with disabilities for whom a full laboratory or fieldwork programme may present particular difficulties

Other information

Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor with whom to discuss and reflect upon academic progress and discuss any problems or circumstances that adversely affect your studies. Students are informed in writing of their allocated Personal Tutor and this information is posted on the relevant Archaeology Notice Boards on the fourth floor of the John Percival Building. If your Personal Tutor is unavailable, and you wish urgently to discuss matters with a member of staff, you may seek advice from the Senior Tutor or another member of staff. Every member of staff has weekly office hours posted on their doors in which you may seek further support and they will also be happy to arrange meetings with you at other times in response to e-mail requests.

As part of the Partnership in Learning Programme students are expected to take responsibility for their own development. Consequently, you will be required to fill in a feedback form in which you reflect upon your own performance and put together a pro-active and on-going programme of improvement for each stage of your degree. The Archaeology Department takes student feedback very seriously and we are continually amending our course in response to the student experience. This liaison with students has helped us to attain a very high rating in the National Student Survey (NSS).

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

  • demonstrate awareness of the diversity of historical, social and economic developments in selected periods of world prehistory and history, largely from the evidence of the archaeological record
  • demonstrate critical understanding of the development of archaeological thought and the main elements of modern archaeological theory
  • demonstrate familiarity with, and assess the reliability of, a wide variety of archaeological evidence
  • apply methodological expertise to the critical analysis of archaeological problems.

How will I be taught?

Archaeology combines a range of practical and research skills that encourage students to develop a range of discipline-specific skills that employer’s value. Students 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. They learn to work both independently and as part of a team.

Students have the opportunity to study abroad during the second year through the Erasmus programme and other exchange agreements with universities overseas. The University-wide ‘Languages for All’ programme will allow students to study a foreign language free of charge alongside their degree programme.  Student are also encouraged and financially supported to attend fieldwork placements abroad.

Archaeology students are also encouraged to take advance 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).

Admissions tutors

Mrs Sarah Tovey, Course Administrator

Dr Andrew Cochrane, Admissions Tutor


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