At a glance

  • Study in a department that achieved 94% overall satisfaction in the 2016 National Student Survey
  • Gain valuable work experience at our on-campus museum, state-of-the-art archaeological laboratories and the Digital Humanities Centre
  • 96% of our research was actively judged as 'internationally excellent' in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework

What is Archaeology?

Through archaeology we learn about our past by studying material evidence – from entire landscapes, to buildings and settlements, objects, burials and organic remains. It covers the whole span of human history – from the earliest period of human origins to later prehistoric societies, from the rise of early civilisations and empires to the development of the modern world. Fresh discoveries and new theories make it an exciting and stimulating discipline which can make a vital contribution to understanding the challenges facing us today. Archaeology is well suited to those of you who are curious about human society and past cultures, and who want to combine practical, hands-on work with traditional academic study.

Questions that are addressed during your archaeology degree include:


  • can archaeology help us explain the past?
  • do we find archaeological sites?
  • are sites excavated and recorded?
  • did civilisations arise?
  • can we define past identities?
  • does the past inform the present?

How will I study?

You will learn through study, field work and independent research. Most modules are taught by lecture and seminar, but many include practicals, laboratory or computing sessions.

In year one, you will take survey modules in different aspects of archaeology to give you an essential introduction to the discipline, as many students have not studied archaeology in depth before. You will be taught the basic principles and methods for discovering, recording and analysing archaeological finds, including hands-on sessions in the field.

In year two and year three, you can choose from a wide range of modules which cover specific periods and themes in more depth, allowing you to shape your degree to suit your own interests. You will also study heritage and the professional aspects of archaeology, and archaeological theory. In the third year you will develop your own independent research skills by producing a Dissertation or research project on a topic of your own choosing.


Lectures offer a clear and accessible overview of what you are studying. Taught in larger groups they introduce you to the debates about key issues and are an effective way of conveying information, ideas, and approaches about different aspects of archaeology. They also provide a foundation for seminar discussion and for further reading.

Lecture slides are posted online in advance in case you missed anything during the lecture or want to prepare yourself beforehand.

Seminars and workshops

These smaller groups offer a supportive environment to:

  • discuss and share your ideas
  • consider and debate the opinions of others
  • think through issues raised by the material you’re studying.

Practicals and laboratory sessions

Archaeology is a hands-on subject and it combines perspectives from the arts and the sciences. During your degree you will have training in archaeological methods and techniques such as surveying and recording, which are taught in the field. You will also have the opportunity to handle artefacts and study different aspects of archaeological science including archaeological materials, and the study of animal bones, plant remains and human skeletons. This teaching takes place in our newly refurbished suite of specialised archaeology laboratories, as well as in our on-campus University Archaeology museum.

Tutorials and supervisions

Both individual and in small groups these offer you the chance to discuss plans for an essay or presentation, or follow up on an area of a module which has interested you.

In your final year, individual dissertation supervisions are an opportunity to develop your research plans and have focused personal discussions on how most effectively to interpret, structure, and present your research findings.

Outside the classroom

Field work is an important aspect of the course and usually involves participation in an approved excavation during the summer vacation. You can choose the project, and recently students have participated in excavations in Britain, Crete and Italy. Our students can also gain work experience in the University’s on-campus Archaeology museum or with other regional heritage organisations.

Fieldtrips are a fun, hands-on learning experience. The department organises regular day trips to local and national museums and local archaeological sites - from prehistoric monuments in the Peak District, to medieval castles and churches, and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, birthplace of the industrial revolution. Our fantastic student-led Archaeology Society organises study visits to important venues such as the British Museum in London and runs an annual international archaeological trip to places like Pompeii, Malta and Athens.


Assessment methods include coursework, written exams and practical assessment. More practical skills, such as drawing, surveying and photography are appraised through portfolios, and in some modules posters and verbal presentations play a part.

Your progress will be assessed each semester. In the first year, you need to pass your assessments in order to progress to the second year, but the marks obtained do not count towards the final degree classification. The marks you achieve in second year are given a 33 per cent weighting in the final degree assessment, with final-year examinations and assessments providing the remaining 67 per cent.



Archaeology's combination of academic study, original research and practical training, often undertaken as part of a team, make it a very attractive degree to a range of employers. Archaeology and heritage is a major part of the UK economy, in both planning and development and the creative and tourism sectors. Our graduates enter a wide variety of careers in professional archaeology, in excavation units or in governmental or heritage organisations, or in museums and heritage. Other sectors of employment include education, media, business, financial services, journalism, law and the armed forces.

In 2015, 96% of first-degree graduates in the Department of Archaeology who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £19,500 with the highest being £25,000.*  

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers
(The Graduate Market in 2013-2016, High Fliers Research).


Study abroad

We offer opportunities to study in many countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. Further information can be found on our  study abroad web pages.

Nottingham has the highest number of any UK university on outward mobility under Erasmus.*

* Erasmus student and staff numbers by institution, Erasmus+ 2014.


Application and interview

Offers are normally made without interview. Students with non-standard entry qualifications, including mature students, may be invited for an interview.  

Open days

Visit days for students offered a place are normally held in February and March. You are welcome to visit at other times – please contact us or visit our open days pages.  
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Department of Archaeology

School of Humanities

The University of Nottingham

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The University of Nottingham
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