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Archaeology and Ancient History (BA)


Entry year

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.

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.

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.


This grade range reflects our typical standard and contextual offers. We carefully consider your contextual data (the circumstances in which you've been studying) upon application. Eligible students applying for this course will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.

International Baccalaureate

32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects. 

Baccalaureate Wales

From 2023, the Welsh Baccalaureate will be renamed the Baccalaureate Wales Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate. This 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

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year. Fees for the previous year were £9,000.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year.

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

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year.

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.

Living costs

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

Course structure

We are currently working with our students to update and improve the content of this course. The information shown below reflects the current curriculum and is likely to change. The review of the course is expected to be completed by August 2023 and this page will be updated by end of October 2023 to reflect the changes.

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 2023/2024 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2023.

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.

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.

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

The School of History, Archaeology and Religion enables you to develop in a high-quality learning environment, supported by a student-orientated approach to the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, practicals, field trips, and one-to-one tutorials. You will also undertake independent study and research, with guidance from tutors.

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

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

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

How will I be supported?

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

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

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.

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.

Graduate careers

  • 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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How to apply

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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 2018/19, published by HESA in June 2021.