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Archaeology (BA)

Entry year


Check our vacancies to see this course is available in Clearing and Adjustment for 2019 entry.

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

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An Egyptian archaeological artefact

Course overview

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, 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 aims of the BA 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 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.

Distinctive features

Investigate the material remains of past societies and cultures, from prehistory to the present day. With a particular focus on the archaeology of the British Isles, Europe, the Mediterranean and Egypt, our Archaeology degrees are noted for their geographical and chronological breadth and the wide range of choice on offer.

Equipping you with both practical and academic skills, our degree can open up careers within the heritage sector and beyond. Our research-active staff are leading a range of projects and developing innovative techniques in forensics, dating, isotope analyses and osteology.

The programme provides a valuable range of intellectual transferable skills to enter a wide range of professions, and the training necessary to progress to postgraduate level. You gain rewarding and enriching practical experience on two fieldwork projects over the summer at the end of the first and second year.

UCAS codeF400
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

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

BBB-BBC. You will not need to achieve these from any specific subjects but 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.

DDM - DMM in a Humanities, Social Science, Applied Science or Computing BTEC. Any other BTEC subject if combined with an A-Level, excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking, will also be considered. 

Achieve the IB Diploma with 665-655 in 3 HL 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.

You will require GCSE English or Welsh Language at grade C or grade 4. Alternatively, IGCSE English First Language or English Second Language will be considered at grade C. 

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

The BA 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. It offers a huge range of choice which students can tailor to their 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 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

You take 80 credits of modules in Archaeology of your yearly total of 120 credits. Your remaining 40 credits can be taken from another subject within the School..

In a year giving you a thorough grounding in the subject, you will be introduced to the techniques and approaches that archaeologists employ, as well as the archaeology of specific societies.

You undertake your first fieldwork 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, with modules are offered on alternate years giving you a vast range of topics.

Over the two years, you take 240 credits of modules in total. You study core modules (80 credits, 60 credits taught in the second year) and choose 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 you are most interested in.

In Year Two, you  take the Archaeological Independent Study module, enabling you to follow your own special interests in depth.

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

Years two and three are taught together as Part Two, with modules are offered on alternate years giving you a vast range of topics.

You study one core modules (20 credits) and for your remaining modules (100 credits) you choose 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 you are most interested in.

In Year Three you have the option of taking the Archaeology Dissertation module, enabling you to follow your own special interests in greater depth.

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.

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

26%

Guided independent study

74%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

21%

Guided independent study

79%

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?

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.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

33%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

58%

Year 2

Written exams

31%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

62%

Year 3

Written exams

19%

Practical exams

11%

Coursework

70%

What skills will I practise and develop?

Archaeology 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.

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.

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

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our graduates progress into a wide range of careers using the skills gained throughout their degrees. Some choose to pursue professions making direct use of their discipline expertise, whilst others enter the public or private sectors, from teaching to graduate-track management.

96% of the School’s 2016/17 graduates reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey).

Taking the Class of 2017 as our most recent example, graduates from the School have gone on to roles in archaeology, the heritage sector, teaching, the civil service, the military, banking and insurance, and the charity sector, with employers ranging from the National Museum Wales and Oxford Archaeology East, to County Council authorities and Schools.

During your degree you can take full advantage of the wide-range of opportunities provided by the Careers Service, enhanced by the School’s Workplace Partnerships Officer.

Jobs

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Lecturer
  • Heritage Conservationist

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.

You are also encouraged and financially supported to attend fieldwork placements abroad.

Archaeology students 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).
 

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 14 September

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