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Archaeology and Ancient History (BA)

An Egyptian archaeological artefact

Why study this course

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Purpose-built laboratories

Use our suite of laboratories and access our digital illustration and photographic suite.

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Study with passion

Explore your interests with subjects spanning Greek art to Persian history and reading ancient text.

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Placements - home and abroad

Experience activities including digs, museum projects and lab activities.

Fieldwork adventures

Build practical skills and put what you'll learn into practice; discover exciting locations and uncover a past world.

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Interactive careers workshops

Hone your career skills and gain valuable insights into roles and sectors fit for you.

In our interdisciplinary BA in Archaeology and Ancient History, you will explore the ancient societies and cultures of the Mediterranean, Europe and the Near East, from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine Empire, including Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Etruscans, Celts and Carthaginians. By combining approaches from archaeology and ancient history, you will learn how to understand these societies from different perspectives, as well as acquiring practical skills such as archaeological excavation, surveying, illustration and public outreach.

You will be able to specialise in the periods or cultures that interest you most, explore themes such as gender, politics, warfare, religion, art and medicine, or learn about archaeological methods and skills. We’ll ensure that you can place this research and knowledge into a contemporary context, including how heritage sites and collections are managed, and how the ancient world continues to inspire the modern world and inform debates in today’s society.

Our teaching is informed by the latest findings, and you’ll share in the process of discovery by participating in fieldwork and carrying out your own research project. As a graduate in archaeology and ancient history, you will have the skills, knowledge and confidence that you need to succeed in a range of careers, in the heritage sector or elsewhere.

This programme is also available with a year of study abroad, extending your degree to a four-year programme, with your third year spent at a partner institution outside the UK.

Subject area: Archaeology and conservation

Subject area: History and ancient history

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

A level

ABB-BBB

Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ 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.


We carefully consider your contextual data (the circumstances in which you've been studying) upon application. Where a grade range is advertised this reflects our typical standard and contextual offers. Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range. Where there is no grade range advertised you will usually receive additional points in the selection process. Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects. 

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Other qualifications from inside the UK

BTEC

DDM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Humanities or Social Science subjects. We will consider BTECs in alternative subjects alongside other academic qualifications and any relevant work or volunteer experience.

T level

Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Additional entry requirements

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

TOEFL iBT

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

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall with a minimum of 59 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 must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Interview or selection process

As per Cardiff University’s admissions policy.

Tuition fees for 2023 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £9,000 None
Year two £9,000 None
Year three £9,000 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2023/24 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £20,450 None
Year two £20,450 None
Year three £20,450 None

Learn more about our tuition fees

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

You’ll need suitable clothing (including waterproofs and suitable footwear) and sometimes accommodation (such as a tent and sleeping bag) for field trips and fieldwork. The University has funds available for students experiencing financial difficulties in purchasing this equipment.

You should be prepared to invest in some key texts and to cover the costs of basic printing and photocopying for your own use. You may also want to buy copies of other books, either because they are particularly important for your modules or because you find them particularly interesting.

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.

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

The BA in Archaeology and Ancient History is a three-year programme, consisting of 120 credits in each year of study. You will study six 20-credit modules in each of your first two years, and in your final year you will take four 20-credit modules and a 40-credit dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Across the programme the core modules provide you with key skills and knowledge, while the optional modules allow you to tailor your degree to suit your particular interests. Over the three years you will build up the skills, training and knowledge that you need for postgraduate study, for a career in archaeology or the heritage sector, or for professional employment outside the discipline.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

Year one

Year 1 is designed to equip you with the essential skills and knowledge that will form the foundation of your degree. You’ll take 6 core 20-credit modules, three in archaeology and three in ancient history.

In ancient history, you’ll take two modules that give you a broad overview of the history of the Mediterranean and the Near East from the Assyrians to the later Roman Empire, and a module introducing you to key study skills and the different types of written and material evidence that ancient historians use.

In archaeology, you’ll take a module on archaeological field skills and techniques, and 2 modules introducing you to the archaeology of Britain and the Mediterranean, especially Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Year two

You’ll take 2 core 20-credit modules: one is a placement module and the other is an independent project, in which you’ll study a theme of your choice and present it in a creative and enterprising way to develop your research and employability skills. You’ll also select a module that will introduce you to different approaches and interpretations in either archaeology or ancient history, so that you understand the significance of your subject in the modern world and can engage more effectively with modern scholarship.

In addition, you’ll choose 3 20-credit optional modules, which will enable you to start specialising in particular themes, periods and areas from both an archaeological and an historical perspective, and to develop further professional skills in archaeology or learn Latin or ancient Greek (maximum 40 credits of language; not both languages at the same time).

Year three

Year 3 marks the culmination of the skills and knowledge that you’ve developed across the degree. You’ll take a core 40-credit dissertation that draws on both archaeological and historical perspectives. Here you’ll build on your second year independent study and the approaches and interpretation module as you design, conduct and write up a small-scale research project, supervised by a member of academic staff.

You’ll also take 4 20-credit optional modules, which allow you tailor your degree to your interests. You can choose from a range of modules focusing on particular periods, themes or archaeological techniques, taught by staff who are actively involved in researching them, or take a module designed to develop your skills in public engagement and outreach.

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

We employ a range of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, active problem-solving classes, practicals, field trips, and one-to-one tutorials. You will also undertake independent study and research, with guidance from tutors or on a self-directed basis.

Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you to carry out independent research and develop your own ideas for the seminars, active classes and assessments. These materials may be delivered to you face-to-face or provided in electronic form so that you can study them at your own pace and convenience.

Seminars and active problem-solving classes provide a dynamic environment in which you can explore the ideas and debates outlined in lectures. These sessions usually consist of a group of students and the group leader (a member of the teaching team). They may take various forms, including plenary group discussion, small group work and student-led presentations. They offer a rewarding opportunity to debate and engage critically with key ideas and reading, and to explore areas of particular interest with an expert in the field.

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

In studying for a Humanities degree, you will engage in self-directed study, making use of libraries, physical and digital archives and collections of evidence. You will be supported in this and learn to become a confident independent student during the course of your degree.

How will I be supported?

You will be supported by a number of different staff, some focussing on academic performance in a particular area and some looking at your learning and progress more holistically.

You will be allocated a personal tutor, who will guide you for the duration of your studies. You will meet with your personal tutor regularly to reflect on your progress and development across your studies. Your personal tutor can also guide you towards appropriate support if you are experiencing difficulties or require specific information about your time at Cardiff University.

Additional module-specific support is provided by seminar tutors, lecturers and/or module convenors. Support for projects and dissertations is provided by an academic supervisor who will meet with you regularly.

All modules make use of the Cardiff University Virtual Learning Environment, through which you’ll be able to access all course materials, including lecture recordings, handouts, details of all assessments, assessment criteria and links to digital resources including the library materials available in electronic format.

Our undergraduate Education Support Team provides academic and student support, and is there to provide information and guidance in response to any queries you may have.

Beyond the School, the University offers a range of services including Student Futures to help you with your career planning, support services and events to help you manage your emotional, mental and physical health, support with financial issues, and support for students with disabilities.

How will I be assessed?

You will encounter a range of different assessments during your study, including essays, source analysis exercises, exams, presentations, creative projects and practical work, along with other assessments that will enable you to demonstrate flexibility and familiarity with different digital platforms such as blogs, vlogs and social media, writing in different formats for specialist and non-specialist audiences, and professional tasks such as writing reports or proposals within academia and the wider world of work.

Our assessments are designed to support you in developing your ideas, skills and competencies. They encourage you to be innovative and creative, to find new ways to address problems or ask questions, to collaborate in solving problems and presenting findings, and to present evidence-based arguments. The skills developed and assessed throughout the programme prepare you for entry into a range of graduate careers.

Individual written feedback is provided on all assessed work to help you improve performance in future assessments, and you’ll have opportunities to discuss this feedback with the tutors. In addition, you will do various practice exercises such as presentations and essay or project plans and formative feedback is provided in classes and tutorials to help you improve your learning and understanding before you complete your summative assessments.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you.

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:   

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

KU1: Critically analyse a broad range of ancient societies and cultures by drawing on an interdisciplinary range of materials and approaches.

KU2: Critically analyse and evaluate a wide range of primary source material, including literary, documentary, epigraphic, visual and archaeological evidence.

KU3: Critically evaluate and employ a range of theories, approaches and methods for the study of archaeology and ancient history.

KU4: Critically evaluate and critique different modern interpretations of the past.

KU5: Critically analyse debates concerning the place of archaeology and ancient history in contemporary society and politics.

KU6: Assess ways in which archaeology and ancient history can contribute to our understanding of cultural, environmental and social developments in the past and the present.

Intellectual Skills:           

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

IS1: Identify and critically analyse patterns of historical or archaeological change and locate detailed examination of particular themes, episodes and events within them.

IS2: Critically evaluate archaeological and historical debates and locate them in the development of both disciplines.

IS3: Define complex historical or archaeological problems and questions, and identify appropriate theories, methods and evidence to address them.

IS4: Formulate and justify independent arguments and conclusions based on critical analysis of incomplete evidence.

Professional Practical Skills:      

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

PS1: Contribute competently to the identification, investigation and recording of archaeological sites.

PS2: Apply archaeological skills in a professional setting.

PS3: Prepare professional quality outputs for a range of audiences in the heritage sector relating to the findings of archaeological research.

PS4: Use a range of information resources and databases to locate primary source material.

PS5: Engage in research to locate and select appropriate modern scholarship.

PS6: Design, carry out and present a substantial piece of independent research combining two disciplines.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to:

TS1: Solve complex problems by using interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to tackle familiar and unfamiliar problems.

TS2: Employ critical thinking and reasoning to analyse and evaluate diverse evidence and ideas.

TS3: Assimilate and synthesise complex information and ideas from two different disciplines.

TS4: Communicate complex and diverse information and arguments to a variety of audiences and in a variety of media, both written and oral.

TS5: Utilise a range of employability and enterprise skills, such as creativity, initiative, organisation, time management, independent and team working, and the use of information technology.

TS6: Comply with health and safety legislation and professional standards in a range of archaeological and heritage settings.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our degree equips you with a range of professional archaeological skills, as well as important transferable skills that employers value, from collaborative working and communicating with a wide range of audiences to critical thinking and finding new ways to address problems. Training and careers events are delivered in and out of the curriculum, with a focus on developing skills while in university and articulating those skills successfully in future applications. We work closely with Student Futures, who not only deliver training and workshops, but also offer a wealth of placement opportunities. Beyond your formal studies we run programmes that provide you with opportunities to engage with local schools and communities or work with local heritage organisations to develop your own skills and profile whilst allowing you to make a difference.

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 graduate-level management to teaching. Recent graduates from the school have gone on to roles in museums, archaeology, the heritage sector, teaching and education, the media, civil service, the military, banking and insurance, the law, human resources and the charity sector, with employers ranging from the Museum Wales to local authorities and schools. Those who have followed a path into archaeology and heritage are working in roles such as field archaeologists undertaking excavations, surveys or post-excavation work, as heritage consultants, local authority archaeological advisors and museum curators.

Graduate careers

  • Archaeologist
  • Historian
  • Lecturer

Placements

You’ll benefit from a 20-credit professional placement module as a core element of the degree. This involves a four-week practical placement on an archaeological excavation (usually in the summer vacation) or on a museum, archival, post-excavation or laboratory project in Britain or abroad. We generally offer experience on a project relevant to the periods and geographical areas under study.

Further opportunities for diverse, bespoke placements are offered in Year Two on a module which focuses on translating the skills you gain through your degree into the workplace. In your third year we offer you the opportunity to take a module through which you can develop your enterprise skills, and which equips you with the skills to communicate and collaborate with external organisations. Staff also have close links with a range of local heritage and other organisations, which offer placement opportunities both in and outside semesters.

Through our links with Student Futures you can source placements and on-campus internships, from 35 hours part-time placements to fit in around your studies to paid summer placements. In addition, Go Wales provides additional support to help you gain work experience.

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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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.