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Archaeology (BA)

Why study this course

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Placements - home and abroad

Experience activities including digs, museum projects and lab activities.

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Purpose-built laboratories

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

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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Community driven

Dive into a range of activities including visits from international speakers, the Archaeology Society and events.

Archaeology is the study of the remains of past societies, from the tiny objects worn on the body to monumental complexes such as Stonehenge. Blending the sciences and humanities, archaeology will equip you to better understand what it is to be human. It is the only discipline which allows you to study humanity from the earliest hominids five million years ago to the present day.

A pioneer of the discipline in the UK, we celebrate 100 years of Archaeology and Conservation in 2020. Today, our experts bring new discoveries and latest thinking into every-day teaching, specialising in the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, Europe and the British Isles.

Our degree will introduce you to the range of evidence studied by archaeologists; from landscapes, buildings and monuments to food remains and everyday objects.

You will develop the specific skills required to study this varied evidence plus a broad knowledge of their wider context.

Particularly appealing is our focus on developing practical skills, both in the field and in the laboratory. You will experience fully funded archaeological fieldwork through our approved programme. These memorable placements take place at home in the UK and overseas, in the summers following Year One and Year Two.

Our Archaeology students progress into a range of careers, with recent graduates choosing to work within the heritage sector (e.g. for archaeological contractors, museums and heritage bodies) or in graduate-level sectors ranging from teaching to TV. Studying archaeology is an excellent way to develop a range of skills valued by employers, for example through developing teamworking and leadership skills in the field and learning how to communicate complex stories about the past to a range of audiences.

Subject area: Archaeology and conservation

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

BBB-BBC

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

31-30 overall or 665-655 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-DMM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science, Computing, Humanities, or Social Science. 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.

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.

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

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

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?

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.

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.

Graduate careers

  • 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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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 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.