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Archaeology (BSc)

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.

As a BSc Archaeology student, you’ll develop critical, analytical and transferable skills that prepare you for professional, scientific, academic and research careers - whether in the exciting and rapidly advancing area of archaeological science or in a wide range of other fields and sectors. We have particular strengths in relation to bioarchaeology (the study of human and animal remains, ancient DNA and isotope analysis), materials science (ceramics, metals and glass), digital archaeology and field techniques.

Our programme will offer you a robust understanding of analytical techniques, delivers practical experience in their application and data processing, and the ability to design and communicate research that employs scientific analyses to address archaeological questions. We’ll enable you to follow your passions and nurture your curiosity, exploring topics that matter to you. Through a combination of science and thematic or period-based modules, you’ll be able to situate your scientific training within the archaeological contexts of your choice. You’ll develop a broad understanding of the archaeology of Britain and the Mediterranean World, coupled with the opportunity to specialise in your areas of interest.

A core component of our programme is eight weeks of professional placement, typically on an archaeological excavation, though placements are wide-ranging (e.g. laboratories, museums etc). These memorable placements take place in the summers following Year One and Year Two, in the UK and overseas, developing your skills in an authentic context. As well as practical skills, honed in the field and our excellent, purpose-built and newly refurbished lab facilities, you’ll develop key research skills through the second-year independent project. Supported by one of our expert staff, you’ll plan and undertake an archaeological research project on a topic of your choosing.

Graduating with a broad understanding of the application of scientific data and methods, as well as first-hand experience of their practical application, your skills – including teamworking, leadership and communication – will be valued by employers.

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.


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 £25,450 None
Year two £25,450 None
Year three £25,450 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

The BSc in Archaeology is a three-year degree which provides you with the skills, training and scientific 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, scientific 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 professional 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

Year 1 provides a solid grounding in the principles of archaeological practice and the themes and methods of scientific analysis in archaeology.

You’ll take 80 credits of core modules, which will introduce you to the archaeological methods used in the field and laboratory and develop knowledge of the archaeology of Britain and of Mediterranean Societies (Egypt, Greece and Rome). These core modules are common across the BA and BSc programmes, giving you the option to transfer from one programme to another for year 2 if you want to.

Your remaining 40 credits will allow you to place your studies into a wider context and explore your interests, taking modules in archaeological conservation, ancient history or focussing on the interdisciplinary study of humanities disciplines.

Year two

You’ll take 80 credits of core modules, focussed on the application of archaeological methods and the understanding of frameworks for archaeological interpretation, 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 cover the application of archaeological science and archaeological explanation and interpretation. You’ll apply your skills and knowledge through the undertaking of an independent archaeological science research project, fully supported by an academic supervisor.

You’ll be able to select 40 credits of optional modules, enabling you to specialise in the archaeology of the periods, regions or themes which most interest you.

Year three

You’ll take 60 credits of core modules, comprising a second professional placement (taking place during the summer vacation between your second and final year) and the archaeological science dissertation.

Your final year project is an independent research project, undertaken with the support of an academic supervisor, which allows you to develop in depth knowledge of your study area and to develop skills in the application of archaeological and research methods, culminating in a scientific journal article for assessment.

You’ll take 60 credits of optional modules, allowing you to develop further skills in the application of archaeological science methods and develop your understanding of the archaeology of specific regions and periods. Of these 3 option modules, at least 2o must be science-based. You may select 1 period 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 is delivered via lectures, laboratory sessions, interactive workshops and tutorials, in addition to visits to relevant local sites and resources such as the National Museum Wales and local heritage organisations. You’ll be taught by expert academic staff from across the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University and engage with external speakers.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, an introduction to key concepts and relevant up-to-date information. You’ll also receive bespoke training in scientific techniques, which includes developing practical skills in various scientific applications in archaeology. In addition, you’ll gain health and safety and laboratory conduct skills. You’ll be able to develop specialist practical skills in at least one area of study.

In workshops and seminars, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss themes or topics in smaller groups, to receive and consolidate feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation. You’ll also receive supervision to support you in completing the independent science project and dissertation but are also expected to engage in considerable independent study.

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 their 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.

Facilities

You’ll be provided with access to our wide-ranging analytical laboratories as part of your teaching. These provide a full suite of equipment for scientific archaeological sample preparation and analysis and are among the best facilities in UK archaeological departments. The library also has a superb set of digital and paper resources.

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 science.

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 assess the problems and potential of applying different scientific approaches to archaeological data

KU 2: Relate current archaeological science approaches to the development of archaeological thought, recognising the provisional nature of knowledge.

KU 3: Develop theoretical frameworks for the interpretation of archaeological science data.

KU 4: Apply archaeological science techniques and use primary/secondary data to address independently defined research questions

KU 5: Critically appraise the role of archaeological science in the preservation of the archaeological record

KU 6: Critically assess the relationship between cultural, environmental and social development in the past, and the ways in which archaeology can contribute to understanding of these processes today

KU 7: Compare and comprehensively synthesise the archaeology of a variety of regions and chronological periods

Intellectual Skills:

I 1: Collate, describe, present and analyse complex and unpredictable scientific data

I 2: Critically assess and evaluate archaeological science scholarship and relate these to research from other scientific disciplines

I 3: Critically evaluate the application of analytical methodologies and the resultant data in archaeological research

I 4:  Develop and defend rigorous and robust evidence-based analysis, argument and interpretation.

Professional Practical Skills:

PP 1: Contribute competently to the prospecting and identification of archaeological sites using scientific approaches.

PP 2: Competently apply appropriate methodologies for the excavation and recording of archaeological sites, artefacts and ecofacts.

PP 3: Competently apply scientific methods to the analysis and interpretation of archaeological materials

PP 4: Produce scientific/technical reports on primary/secondary data from the analysis of archaeological artefacts and ecofacts.

PP 5: Undertake comprehensive and systematic assessments of the health and safety and ethical implications of field and laboratory research in accordance with professional standards

Transferable/Key Skills:

T/KS1: Communicate complex scientific information to a variety of audiences through a range of media.

T/KS2: Comply with health and safety legislation and professional standards in a laboratory environment and externally.

T/KS3: Access, critically assess, and synthesise a range of research resources and scientific data.

T/KS4: Ensure the ethical production and integrity of scientific data.

T/KS5: Competently apply practical IT, numeracy and presentation skills in complex situations.

T/KS6: Comprehensively assess the ethical implications of research.

T/KS7: Work collaboratively towards a defined goal.

T/KS8: Listen, comprehend and reflect when presented with new information.

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-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 the wide-range of opportunities provided by the 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 2 and 3. 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 Years Two and Three fieldwork projects are taken in the summer preceding those academic years.  The Fieldwork projects 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.