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Archaeology and Ancient History (BA)

Entry year


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.

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An Egyptian archaeological artefact

Course overview

This interdisciplinary programme combines archaeological and historical approaches to the study of Europe and the Mediterranean across five millennia [4th millennium BC to 11th century AD]. 

Our degree develops your knowledge and critical understanding of the political, social, economic and cultural structures of societies from the Aegean Bronze Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, extending to post-Roman Britain and the Byzantine Empire.

For us, engaging with social and cultural topics are just as important as developing historical and archaeological skills. You will encounter fascinating themes with contemporary relevance, from warfare, gender, religion, art and literature to medicine and science.

Naturally, you benefit from facilities including bespoke archaeological 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.

In our varied degree, you gain fully funded archaeological fieldwork experience through our placement programme. Our memorable placements take place at home in the UK and overseas.

Our degree is designed to help you cultivate the skills of both archaeologist and historian. You’ll master assessing a range of evidence and evaluating varying and sometimes conflicting interpretations to construct your own robust and coherent argument. Moreover, you will practice expressing your new findings in ever innovative written forms as well as verbally within a nurturing environment.

Distinctive features

Dedicated to the understanding of past societies through the interpretation of ancient evidence, we explore literary, epigraphic and archaeological material, to bring you closer to these closely- interconnected subjects.

Our programme offers a balance between specific historical periods and thematic approaches to examine broad social and cultural topics including warfare, medicine, art and science. The span of Ancient History ranges from the earliest Mediterranean and Near Eastern civilisations to the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires.

This carefully-integrated degree provides a valuable range of intellectual and transferable skills to enter a wide range of professions, and the training necessary to progress to postgraduate level.

UCAS codeVVC4
Next intakeSeptember 2020
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.

Entry requirements

BBC-BCC. Please note General Studies and Critical Thinking will not be accepted.   

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DMM Humanties or Social Science. Any other BTEC subject if combined with an A-Level excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking.

Achieve the IB Diploma with 655 in 3HL subjects.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of History, Archaeology & Religion admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

GCSE English Language Grade C or 4, IGCSE English First Language grade C, IGCSE English as a Second Language grade C

Selection

As per Cardiff University’s admissions policy.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment

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.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a three-year degree programme of 360 credits, 120 credits in each year comprising core modules, which provide essential skills and training, and a wide variety of optional modules that allow you to tailor your degree to meet your interests. The course is structured so that you acquire in successive years the knowledge and skills required to become an independent researcher, equipped for high-level professional employment. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

The first year provides you with an introduction to the study of ancient history and archaeology, and initial training in the techniques and approaches that archaeologists and ancient historians employ.

You take one core module (20 credits). You will take 40 credits from each of the degree subjects, including modules on Mediterranean archaeology, Greek or Roman history, and archaeological techniques or ancient historical skills.

For the remaining credits, you can choose additional Archaeology or Ancient History modules, or optional modules from another subject within the School.

You undertake your first fieldwork archaeology project 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 in alternate years to ensure breadth of options.

Over the two years, you will complete 240 credits of modules, normally 120 credits each in Archaeology and Ancient History, including one pair of complementary modules in Ancient History and Archaeology where the same chronological period is covered for either Greek or Roman society.

You are required to undertake an independent study during year two and one further core module in either Ancient History or Archaeology.

An archaeology fieldwork placement is a core requirement of each year and takes place during the summer preceding that academic year (between years one and two and between years two and three). You will learn key practical skills through four weeks of participation in archaeological excavations, field surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Archaeology Field and Practical Skills 1HS220320 credits
Independent 2nd Year StudyHS433420 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Now and Next: From Academia to Employment (20 Credits)HS000420 credits
The Archaeology of the Anglo-SaxonsHS220120 credits
Geophysical SurveyingHS220220 credits
Iron Age BritainHS230620 credits
Post-Roman Celtic BritainHS234020 credits
The History of Archaeological ThoughtHS234820 credits
Aegean Bronze Age: Emergence to CollapseHS238720 credits
Art and Archaeology of Classical GreeceHS238920 credits
Pharaohs of the SunHS241020 credits
BioarchaeologyHS243220 credits
Museums' Collections ManagementHS244120 credits
Archaeological Illustration and PhotographyHS244620 credits
Spatial Technologies and Geographical Information SystemsHS245120 credits
Reading Latin 2HS332220 credits
Reading Greek 2HS332420 credits
Roman Imperial History, 31BC- AD138HS333520 credits
The Later Roman Empire, AD284-480HS333720 credits
Tyrants, Kings and Democrats: the Rise of Classical GreeceHS337420 credits
Greek and Roman MedicineHS337620 credits
Assyria: Life and Thought in Ancient MesopotamiaHS337920 credits
Drama in Context: Ancient Greek Theatre, Politics and SocietyHS338120 credits
The World of CleopatraHS338320 credits
Rebelling Against Rome: Local Identity and Resistance across the Roman EmpireHS338420 credits
Religion in Rome and ItalyHS338520 credits
Byzantium: the Golden Age, AD 842-1056HS339320 credits
Reading Latin 1HS342120 credits
Reading Greek IHS342320 credits
Death and Burial in the Roman WorldHS430820 credits
Pots, Poems and Pictures: Using Evidence for Ancient HistoryHS433620 credits
At Home with the Romans: Domestic Space and SocietyHS433920 credits
Greek WarfareHS436620 credits
Life in Ancient RomeHS437020 credits
History and Religion of Ancient IsraelRT230120 credits

Year three

You undertake your second fieldwork project in the summer at the end of your 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.

You can choose to study a subject of particular interest in depth in the optional dissertation module (40 credits). You can write on a topic that combines both archaeological and historical material or on a topic that uses historical or archaeological material alone.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Archaeology Field and Practical Skills 2HS220420 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.

Learning and assessment

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.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

20%

Guided independent study

80%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

31%

Guided independent study

69%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

20%

Guided independent study

80%

Placements

0%

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.

How will I be assessed?

Modules are assessed by various methods, including coursework essays, written reports, source criticisms, critical reviews, examinations, class tests and oral presentations.

Coursework and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments.  Assessment, including coursework, exams, and oral presentations, will test the different skills you have learned. 

Progression is built into assessment, in that you will do smaller guided tasks in Year One, as well as formative essays in Years Two and Three. Progression is also evident in the growing emphasis on lengthier, independent work culminating in an optional 10,000-word dissertation in Year Three.  Final Year modules also demand deeper engagement with independent methods of working, together with greater demands on handling critically a larger number of bibliographical tasks and items.

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.

Feedback:

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.

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.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

25%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

67%

Year 2

Written exams

33%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

60%

Year 3

Written exams

26%

Practical exams

11%

Coursework

63%

What skills will I practise and develop?

The BA Archaeology and Ancient History degree combines practical and research skills and encourages 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 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 uncertain 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.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

In 2016/17, 96% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

We organise interactive workshops with the Careers Service to help students identify their skills and attributes. History graduates find work in a wide range of related and non-related professional employment. Some choose to undertake postgraduate study at Cardiff or elsewhere, and some have become internationally reputed historians.

Jobs

  • Archaeologist
  • Historian
  • Lecturer

Placements

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

Students 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).

Fieldwork

The fieldwork projects are taken in the summers preceding Years Two and Three, allowing you to put into practice your new skills and to gain valuable practical experience.  These are taught through four weeks of student participation on archaeological excavations, field-surveys, museum curatorial projects or other post-excavation, laboratory-based activities.

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Saturday 26 October

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