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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 only discipline that allows you to study humanity from the earliest hominids five million years ago to the present day. It enables all of us to better understand what it is to be human and explore the richness of the human experience.

Blending the sciences, social sciences and humanities, our BA Archaeology will equip you with the skills you’ll need to study the past through material evidence and will introduce you to the archaeology of Britain and the Mediterranean World. Building on your passions and curiosity, you’ll have the opportunity to specialise in the study of the periods and regions which interest you, ranging from the prehistoric to post-medieval periods. In addition to developing an understanding of specific archaeological contexts, we’ll also ensure you can place this research and knowledge into a contemporary context including how archaeology can inform debates in today’s society and how heritage sites and collections are managed.

You will be introduced to a variety of key archaeological skills relating to the study of artefacts and environmental evidence and help you develop your field skills with eight weeks of placement, typically on an archaeological excavation, developing your skills in an authentic context. These memorable placements take place in the summers following Year One and Year Two, in the UK and overseas.

As well as practical skills, honed in the field and in our excellent facilities, you’ll gain and develop special research skills through a second-year independent study module. Supported by one of our expert staff, you’ll plan and undertake an archaeological research project on a topic of your choice. The optionality and increased specialisation as you progress through your degree means you will enjoy a programme of high integrity, tailored to furnishing you with skills of value within and beyond the heritage sector.

BA Archaeology provides the ultimate all round degree and 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 analyse evidence and 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

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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

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

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 (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.

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

Our BA in Archaeology is a three-year degree which provides you with the skills, training and knowledge to succeed, whether applying for postgraduate study, for employment in archaeology and the heritage sector or for employment outside of the discipline. It combines academic and practical skills and allows you to follow your interests and passions.  

You’ll study 120 credits of modules in each year, including two 20-credit fieldwork/placement modules, which usually take place in the summer vacations. You will have substantial optionality in all three years, with optional modules both in archaeology and other disciplines, covering themes, methods and periods, to give you the flexibility to pursue a bespoke pathway.

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

In the first year you’ll take 80 credits of core modules which introduce you to key archaeological skills for field and laboratory work. These core modules are common across the BA and BSc versions of our programmes, giving you the option to transfer from one programme to another for year 2 if you want to.

You’ll also take introductory modules on the archaeology of Mediterranean societies (covering Egypt, Greece and Rome) and the archaeology of Britain. Your remaining 40 credits will allow you to place your studies into a wider context and explore your interests, taking optional modules from across the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

Year two

You’ll take 80 credits of core modules during your second year. Your professional placement accounts for 20 of these credits and takes place during the summer vacation between your first and second year.

The remaining core modules will introduce you to interpretive approaches in archaeology, the societal, economic and environmental context of archaeological research and allow you to complete an independent research project.

You’ll be able to select 40 credits of optional modules to pursue your interests in the archaeology of particular regions and periods.

Year three

You’ll take two core modules (60 credits) during your final year with the remaining 60 credits made up of optional modules.

Your professional placement, which takes place during the summer vacation between your second and final year, comprises a core component. While the 60 credits of optional modules will allow you to develop an in depth understanding of specific archaeological methods or the archaeology of particular regions or periods.

A dissertation (40 credits) is also core, and provides an opportunity to develop advanced independent research skills and an in-depth knowledge of a research topic, fully supported by an academic supervisor.

You will then select 3 more option modules, at least 2 of which must be period-based humanities modules. You may select 1 science module if you desire.

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, workshops, interactive classes, 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 practical sessions and direct participation on fieldwork projects, including excavation, surveys, post-excavation programmes and curatorial projects in museums.

How will I be supported?

All modules within the programme make extensive use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment, on which you’ll find course materials and links to related materials. You’ll be supervised when undertaking your independent research project and optional dissertation. Supervision will include scheduled regular meetings to discuss progress, provide advice and guidance, and provide written feedback on draft dissertation contents.

Feedback

You’ll receive written feedback on all assessments, in addition to oral feedback on assessed oral/poster presentations, provided within a maximum of four weeks from submission.

Personal Tutor

You’ll 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. We offer one-to-one time in set office hours during teaching weeks, and welcome email contact. Our professional services team is also available for advice and support.

How will I be assessed?

All modules have been designed to provide a high-quality academic experience. The type of assessment varies from module to module, but includes essays, examinations, class tests, presentations, role play assessments and portfolios.

In all cases, our assessments are designed to support you in developing your ideas, skills and competencies. The skills developed and assessed throughout the programme prepare you for entry into a range of graduate careers. Individual and group feedback on assessments and other learning provides you with the opportunity to reflect on your current or recent level of attainment. Assessment of the thematic modules is directed towards the ability to interrogate and contextualise evidence in writing. Approaches are diverse, to ensure distinct pathways and experiences and include essays, articles, open book exams and close analysis of evidence independently and in groups. The skills modules all have authentic assessments which simulate real-world activities in the relevant areas. The pinnacle of the programme is the final year project, which provides the chance to make a genuinely original contribution to archaeological knowledge.

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:

KU 1: Critically evaluate the development of archaeology (including current themes and methods), in relation to a broad range of contexts, time periods and intellectual traditions.

KU 2: Design and execute an original, critical archaeological research project embedded in an appropriate theoretical framework.

KU 3: Critically appraise the role of archaeology within the wider heritage sector.

KU 4: Critically assess the cultural, environmental and social development in the past, and the ways in which archaeology can contribute to the understanding of those processes today.

KU 5: Critically evaluate the theoretical frameworks in which archaeological research is embedded

KU 6: Apply knowledge of archaeological method and theory to the examination of particular temporal and geographic contexts

KU 7: Critically interrogate the role of heritage in modern society

Intellectual Skills:

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

I 1: Collate, describe and present complex and unpredictable archaeological evidence.

I 2: Critically assess and evaluate archaeological and heritage scholarship and relate these to research from other arts and humanities disciplines.

I 3: Analyse, debate and interpret multifaceted archaeological evidence (including objects, sites, buildings and landscapes).

I 4: Formulate and sustain reliable and valid evidence-based arguments, situated within relevant conceptual frameworks.

I 5: Identify and locate appropriate primary and secondary sources of evidence and analyse them critically to address questions and solve problems.

I 6: Utilise knowledge and appropriate skills and methods to critically evaluate change in the examination of particular temporal or geographical contexts

Professional Practical Skills:      

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

PP 1: Contribute competently to the identification, investigation and recording of archaeological sites.

PP 2: Assess the reliability, validity and significance of archaeological evidence.

PP 3: Prepare professional quality outputs for a range of audiences in the heritage sector relating to the findings of archaeological research.

PP 4: Apply archaeological skills in a professional setting.

PP 5: Critically relate archaeological knowledge and understanding to other humanities disciplines.

Transferable/Key Skills:

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

T/KS 1: Communicate complex heritage information to a variety of audiences through a range of media.

T/KS 2: Comply with health and safety legislation and professional standards in a range of archaeological and heritage settings.

T/KS 3: Access, critically assess, and synthesise a range of research resources and evidence.

T/KS 4: Critically assess and ensure research integrity and the ethical delivery of research

T/KS 5: Competently apply practical IT, numeracy and presentation skills in complex situations.

T/KS 6: Comprehensively assess the ethical implications of research.

T/KS 7: Work collaboratively towards a defined goal.

T/KS 8: Listen, comprehend and reflect when presented with new information.

T/KS 9: Interpret evidence by embedding it in an appropriate theoretical framework

T/KS 10: Situate and explore discipline-specific knowledge in a global societal, environmental and economic context.

T/KS 11: Effectively communicate complex information and arguments, either individually or as part of a team.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Graduating with a range of academic and practical skills – including teamworking, leadership and communication –the confidence to deploy them and the ability to see the big picture, you’ll be valued by employers and ideally placed to progress into a range of careers. 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-level management.

Recent graduates from the school have gone on to roles in archaeology, the heritage sector, teaching and education, the civil service, the military, banking and insurance, the law, human resources and the charity sector, with employers ranging from the Museum Wales and Oxford Archaeology East, to County Council 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.

During your degree you can take full advantage of opportunities provided by university's Student Futures services, enhanced by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences’ Employment Officer.

Graduate careers

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Lecturer
  • Heritage Conservationist

Placements

You’ll benefit from two 20-credit professional placement modules. These involve four-week practical placements (usually on an archaeological excavation during the summer vacations) on an archaeological fieldwork, museum, archival, post-excavation or laboratory project in Britain or abroad. We generally offer experience in a wide range of projects covering various archaeological periods and specialisms. Placements are tailored to develop both archaeological and transferable skills (e.g. teamwork, communication, leadership).

Further opportunities for diverse, bespoke placements are offered in optional school-wide employability modules in years two and three. 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 the 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.