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Course overview

Historical archaeology focusses on the periods with written history. You will learn the disciplines of archaeology to look at the evidence. Will your interpretation complement or challenge the written records?

We will focus on material culture (artefacts), buildings and historic landscapes. They may be ancient, but they may also be more recent, connecting history with the modern-day. You can also choose modules to develop your practical and scientific skills to further your understanding.

On this course, you will complete 20 days of archaeological fieldwork. This includes taking part in an approved excavation project, or a related placement, in the UK or overseas.

You will also consider how best to present heritage to the public, working in groups to create an interactive activity based on your studies. Recent project titles have included:

  • Europe’s Ice Age Hunter-Gatherers – museum exhibition design
  • Hadrian’s Wall – an Archaeology Escape Room experience
  • HMS Royal George – a digital shipwreck tour
  • Seeking out Nottingham’s Past – an Archaeology puzzle game
  • Travel the Apennine Way – Roman Board Game

You can also choose modules from other departments, including languages, history, and classics.

Your department

Visit the Department of Classics and Archaeology website, and find out more about what it's like to study with us.

Why choose this course?

Beginners welcome!

No previous experience is needed

Real-world relevance

Examine current-day issues in heritage and society, as well as reflecting on the past

Specialist facilities

Support your studies with our specialist teaching and research laboratories

Nottingham Museum

Gain practical and professional experience in our on-campus museum

Hands-on experience

Take part in fieldwork and archaeological research, with additional study visits to archaeological sites and museums

Share your knowledge

Volunteer with local schools through our Nottingham Classics Out-and-about (NoCOut) outreach programme


Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level BBB
IB score 30

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

If you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level, you may be eligible for our  Foundation Year. From there you may progress to a range of direct entry degrees in the arts and humanities. 

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

You will be taught via a mixture of large-group lectures and smaller, interactive seminars. Students on this course will also have practical teaching in the lab, and out in the field.

All students are assigned a personal tutor at the start of each academic year. Your personal tutor oversees your academic development and personal welfare.

Teaching quality

Nine academics from the Department of Classics and Archaeology have received Advance HE recognition for their contribution to education, becoming Teaching Fellows.

Peer mentoring

All new undergraduate students are allocated a peer mentor, to help you settle into life at Nottingham.

Find out more about the support on offer

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Field trips
  • Placements
  • Lab sessions

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Examinations
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Reflective review
  • Dissertation

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least the following hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and workshops, tutorials and supervisions.

  • Year one: minimum of 12 hours
  • Year two: minimum of 10 hours
  • Final year: minimum of 8 hours

Your tutors will also be available outside these times to discuss issues and develop your understanding. We reduce your contact hours as you work your way through the course. As you progress, we expect you to assume greater responsibility for your studies and work more independently.

Your tutors will all be qualified academics. Sizes of lectures and seminars vary according to topic. A popular lecture may include up to 75 students, with specialised seminars of 10.

As well as scheduled teaching you’ll carry out extensive self-study such as:

  • reading
  • locating and analysing primary sources
  • planning and writing essays and other assessed work
  • collaborating with fellow students

As a guide, 20 credits (a typical module) is approximately 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

On this course, you will also undertake 20 days of fieldwork. This usually takes place during the summer break and can involve up to five days in a museum or similar environment.

Study abroad

  • Explore the world, experience different cultures and gain valuable life skills by studying abroad
  • Options range from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad
  • Language support is available through our Language Centre where required
  • Boost your CV for prospective employers

See our study abroad pages for full information

Placements

Work experience gives you the skills and experience that will allow you to stand out to potential employers and is a crucial part of becoming 'workplace-ready'.

Our second-year School of Humanities work placement module involves a professional placement (one day a week for six weeks or equivalent) in an external organisation. You will gain employability skills in a workplace relevant to Arts/Humanities graduates.

The Department of Classics and Archaeology runs Nottingham Classics Out-and-about (NoCOut), a local schools outreach programme where you can communicate your knowledge and gain valuable employment skills.

"I signed up for NoCOut to gain experience in schools for my future career. I'm much more confident in my ability to tailor presentations for different audiences and to communicate effectively. I’m really proud of the activities we were able to create together. Dressing up as a Roman became a standard afternoon for me!"

- Isabelle Powell, student NoCOut volunteer

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Modules

Our first-year core modules are designed as an introduction. This means that even if you haven’t studied archaeology before, we’ll build everyone's knowledge to the same level, so you can progress through to year two.

In year one you will follow the same programme as students on BA Archaeology.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core modules (80 credits) – you will cover the general principles and scientific methods of archaeology. You will also study some of the key aspects and periods
  • Optional archaeology modules (0-40 credits) – choose from a range of modules, some of which include elements of ancient history and classical civilisations
  • Optional modules from other departments (0-40 credits) – choose from a range of complementary modules in other subjects

You’ll have at least 12 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year one, but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

There is a requirement for you to complete 20 days of archaeological fieldwork or other professional experience. For more information visit the Archaeology fieldwork webpage.

Core modules

Understanding the Past – Introduction to Archaeology

Archaeologists are interested in all aspects of the human past. This includes everything from ancient landscapes and changing environments, buried settlements and standing monuments and structures, to material objects and evidence for diet, trade, ritual and social life.

This module introduces the discipline of archaeology. It also explores how material remains are discovered, analysed and used to provide evidence for human societies, from prehistory to the present day.

The autumn semester introduces the historical development of archaeology. This is followed by a presentation of current theory and practice in the areas of:

  • archaeological prospection and survey
  • excavation and post-excavation analysis
  • relative and absolute dating
  • the study of archaeological artefacts
  • frameworks of social interpretation

In the spring semester, you will be taken into the field to gain practical experience of core archaeological methods in field survey and buildings archaeology.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Understanding the Past II – Landscapes and Surveying

This module builds on Understanding the Past I. It is an introduction to the core aims and methodologies of Archaeology as a discipline. It provides a basic introduction to how material remains of the past are discovered, analysed and used to provide evidence for human societies, from prehistory to the present day.

Through lectures, classroom activities and practical fieldwork, you will be introduced to the study of landscape and the built environment, looking at how the archaeological record is both created and investigated.

You will be taken into the field to gain practical experience of core archaeological methods in field survey and buildings archaeology. One of the locations you will visit is Wollaton Hall, the Elizabethan house and landscape park that's nearby to University Park campus.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Interpreting Ancient Art and Archaeology

Explore Greek and Roman art, from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman Empire (roughly 1600 BC to AD 400). We will consider classic sites and monuments that are among the great lasting achievements of mankind, including the Parthenon, Trajan’s Column and the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta.

You will learn how to look at works of art and artefacts from the ancient world. This includes how to describe, explain and analyse them. As a result, you will unlock the meanings of these images and monuments for the people who made, commissioned and looked at them.

You will build a thorough understanding of the key contexts and media of ancient art and archaeology. This includes:

  • sculpture
  • vase-painting
  • coins
  • mosaics
  • architecture and urban structures

We will cover the Greek world in the autumn semester, and the Roman world in the spring semester. Rather than working chronologically, the material on this module is organised by media and contexts (topography, sculpture, vase painting, temples, tombs, houses etc.) This gives you a grasp of formal and stylistic developments within each of these media through the centuries, helping you understand their meanings in their original contexts.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Rome to Revolution: Historical Archaeology of Britain.

This module gives an overview of the archaeology of the British Isles, from the Roman invasion until the industrial revolution.

This was a period of dramatic change in Britain. Using key sites and discoveries, you will be introduced to the challenges of understanding the archaeology of periods partially documented in textual sources.

You will study:

  • The Roman invasion and military and civilian life in the Roman province of Britannia
  • Anglo-Saxon and Viking incursions and settlement
  • Medieval castles, towns and monasteries
  • The impact of the Reformation and the growth of the Tudor state
  • The role of industry and urbanisation in the making of modern Britain

Teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and a museum session. On average, this will be two hours per week across the spring semester.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Comparative World Prehistory

Gain an overview of prehistoric archaeology through global case studies.We’ll be covering the latest debate and scholarship, on topics such as:

  • human dispersal
  • technology
  • environmental change
  • food procurement and production
  • monumentality
  • sedentism and urbanisation

You’ll receive a grounding that will feed into our other modules on Prehistoric archaeology in the Department of Archaeology.  

By the end of the module, you’ll have an understanding of the broad chronological development and key themes in Prehistory up to the development of writing. With an appreciation of archaeological approaches in prehistoric periods, and the complexities of integrating varied sources of archaeological evidence including landscapes, monuments, excavated evidence and material culture. 

Archaeology optional modules

Choose 0-40 credits from a range, which may include:

Studying the Greek World

Gain a wide-ranging interdisciplinary introduction to the history, literature and culture of the ancient Greek World. Covering from c.1600-31 BC, you will explore Greek history from the Mycenaean period to the coming of Rome.

You will:

  • Examine the major topics in Greek history – from the Mycenaean Period and the Dark Ages, through the rise of the polis in the Archaic period, to the height of Greek civilisation in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and finally its conquest by the Roman Empire
  • Explore primary evidence from Greek literary and material culture
  • Consider the relationship between ancient Greece and the modern world

This module is followed by the Studying the Roman World module, in the spring semester. No prior knowledge of Greek history or Greek language is needed.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Interpreting Ancient History

This year-long module is devoted to the history of the ancient world. You will investigate some of its key themes and approaches through a series of historical case studies, covering major periods of Greek and Roman history.

You will explore:

  • What do we know (and not know) about the ancient world?
  • How do ancient politics, society, culture and morality differ from our own?
  • What evidence informs us about the ancient world? What are its limits and pitfalls?
  • How do modern concerns influence academic debates about the ancient world, and the views of individual scholars?
  • How far can we hope to know ‘how things really were’ in the ancient world?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Studying the Roman World

This module gives a wide-ranging interdisciplinary introduction to the history, literature and art of the Roman world. We will explore from the beginnings of the city of Rome, to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West.

You will:

  • examine the major chapters of Rome's history – such as the Roman Republic, the rise of the empire, the establishment of the Principate, and the fall of Rome
  • discover coinciding developments in Roman literary and artistic culture
  • consider the reception of ancient Rome in modern western culture

We will also examine the relationship of the Roman world to the Greek world. This will complement the autumn semester module, Studying the Greek World, by continuing training in a number of basic study skills. No prior knowledge of the Roman world is needed.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Greek and Roman Mythology

This module introduces the interpretation of ancient Greek and Roman myth, focussing on a representative range of texts and themes.

The module will be team-taught, exposing you to a wide range of material and approaches to the use of myth in the ancient world.

We will consider how mythology is used in:

  • ancient literature, such as epic and drama
  • historical texts
  • religious contexts
  • the material culture of the ancient world, such as statuary, paintings and sarcophagi

We will also introduce the variety of methodologies that scholars have used over the years, to help interpret and understand these myths and their usages.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Great Discoveries in Archaeology

Explore the real stories behind key sites and discoveries in the history of archaeology.

Taking a broadly chronological approach, we touch upon key finds from the earliest phases of human evolution to the Middle Ages. Each lecture focusses on a major site of scientific discovery or excavation that has fundamentally altered previously held interpretations of the past. This might include Pompeii, Sparta, Sutton Hoo or Palmyra.

You will also examine the personalities and ideologies that have shaped archaeology, noting how changing perspectives on gender, ethnicity and class have in turn formed ideas about the past and its material remains.

We also consider to what extent archaeology is used, abused, or misused in the modern world. So, if you'd like to learn how archaeology became the subject it is, and how it remains very much relevant to the present day, then this is the module for you!

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules in other departments

Choose 0-40 credits from a range which may include, but is not limited to:

Modern language modules

Our Language Centre offers a range of modern language options to complement your degree. You may study from Stage 1a (complete beginners) to Stage 6 (near native speaker competence), dependent on your existing skills. Languages include:

  • Arabic
  • French 
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin Chinese 
  • Russian
  • Spanish

You may also choose from non-language modules: 

  • Language and Language Learning
  • Culture of Arabic Language Learning
  • Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages 
History of Art: Renaissance to Revolution

Explore art and architecture from the Renaissance to the Age of Revolutions (c.1789).

  • Discuss individual artists and works and set them within their historical contexts.
  • Question how changing forms of art relate to their social, political and philosophical contexts.
  • Examine the interplay of individual and collective ideas, practices, and institutions.
  • Think about how contextual study can be married to visual analysis.
History of Philosophy

Philosophy develops, confronts and destroys previous thinking. It reinforces the status quo and acts as a foundation for revolution. It's a product of its time and helps to shape the future.

Together we'll become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas and thinkers that have shaped philosophy. And you'll come to understand how and why these ideas arose and developed in response to wider contexts and movements.

Influential thinkers might include:

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Ibn-Tufayl and Ibn-Rushd
  • Montaigne, Locke and Wollstonecraft
  • Marx and Gandhi
  • Fanon, Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Murdoch

Particular topics might include:

  • ancient Greek conceptions of the good life
  • reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy
  • medieval philosophy
  • existentialism
  • Afro-Caribbean philosophy

You won't be taught whether any of these thinkers and thoughts were right. But by the end of the module you'll be able to recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on both sides of each philosophical issue.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States

This module examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. We trace the making and remaking of immigrant communities, cultures, and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. You will analyse models of race, ethnicity, culture, and nation by focusing on the perception and reception of immigrant groups and their adjustment to US society. We will ask questions such as: How have institutions and ideologies shaped the changing place of immigrants within the United States over time? How have immigrants forged new identities within and beyond the framework of the nation state? And how has immigration transformed US society?

Interpreting Islam

This module examines the narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition including the Qur'an, the prophetic tradition and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. You’ll also look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period, and Muslim responses to challenges posed by modernity including questions of gender and the nation state.

Producing Film and Television

This module engages with the narrative histories of film and television, from their origins to the present day, a period involving many significant transitional moments in production histories. You will explore the coming of sound, the rise and demise of the Hollywood studio system, and the emergence of the TV network system. By raising questions such as: what are the industries producing at these moments, and how are cultural products marketed and distributed? this module also asks what transition means at different historical moments. It provides examples of different critical approaches to film and television history and interrogates the key debates around the periodisation of that history. This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 14 June 2021.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core modules (40 credits) – you will study our core Communicating the Past and Archaeology: Theory and Practice modules
  • Archaeological heritage modules (40-80 credits) – you will take a minimum of two modules with a strong heritage component. A selection of modules from this group will be offered in both year two and three
  • Archaeology additional optional modules (0-40 credits) – choose from a range of additional topics
  • Optional modules from other subjects (0-20) – choose from a range

You’ll have at least 10 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year two, which counts as 33% towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Archaeology: Theory and Practice

Archaeological knowledge is built through analysing material remains. We then use theory to create research questions, building interpretations of those remains. Together, these two elements act as evidence for societies in the past and present.

In this module, you will focus on the relationship between concepts, interpretive approaches and analytical frameworks in the design and implementation of archaeological research projects.

In the autumn semester, we introduce the development of archaeological theory and interpretation. Special attention is given to the paradigms put forward over the last 30 years, and the resulting debates.

Topics include:

  • uniformitarianism
  • ethnography
  • typology
  • ‘New Archaeology’
  • processualism and post-processualism
  • economic archaeology
  • neo-Marxist paradigms

You will develop your knowledge further through in-depth studies of key issues and themes. You will also explore archaeological research in a wide range of different areas and projects.

You will develop professional practice through a desk-based assessment, for an archaeological site or project. Assessment for this module also includes a report on your fieldwork, written with reference to the theoretical components of the module.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Communicating the Past

This module is your opportunity to expand your knowledge of an aspect of Classics or Archaeology which interests you, and to experiment with methods of communicating that knowledge which take you beyond the usual assessment practices of essays and exams. You might undertake research that leads to (for example) the creation of a museum exhibition, the reconstruction of an ancient artefact, or the design of a new public engagement strategy for a historic site. You might acquire experience of a communication method which could be of use to you in a future career, e.g. by constructing an education pack, writing in a journalistic style, or creating an archaeological site management plan. You might choose to experiment with a different medium of communication such as video, website or phone app. The topic and form of the project chosen must both be approved by the module convener. This module is ideal for any student who is interested in pursuing a career in heritage, museums or education, while developing skills in research, project design and communication are essential for a wide range of career choices as well as being excellent preparation for your third-year dissertation.

Archaeological heritage modules

Choose 40-80 credits from a range. Some modules will also be offered in year three. 

The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

This module considers the archaeology of England from the end of the Roman occupation until the Norman conquest. You will explore the question of the Romano-British survival and the formation of new Anglo-Saxon societies, evidence of pagan beliefs and the conversion to Christianity; on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Viking incursions and Danish impact on England. 

The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions

This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.

The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:

  • The definitions of the Silk Roads
  • Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
  • Luxury production
  • Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
  • Ming Dynasty links with the West

Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)

This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.

We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.

You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.

We will examine:

  • the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
  • the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
  • the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
  • the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire

You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean c. 500-1500 CE

Explore archaeological evidence from a time of significant social, political, economic and climate change, which laid the foundations of the modern world. 

We'll focus on the development of European societies around the Mediterranean, Africa and across Eurasia in the medieval period. You will study the:

  • Transformation of European and Mediterranean landscapes and settlement patterns, from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance
  • Towns of western Europe, Byzantium and the Islamic world
  • Impact of climate change, epidemic disease and population growth
  • Rise of kingdoms, states and empires
  • Development of nearly global trade networks in Europe, Africa and Asia, resulting in permanent European settlement in the Americas

Your lectures and seminars consider interdisciplinary approaches to these topics. They will also consider what they can tell us about social and economic change, ideologies and social identities over 1000 years of human history.

The teaching on climate, societal and economic change, is driven from the module tutor's European ice-core research, which gained national media coverage. You can also benefit from hands-on learning, using the Medieval European collections at our on-site Archaeology Museum.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Archaeology optional modules

Choose 0-40 credits from a range, which may include:

Extended Source Study
This module is designed to develop your skills of research, analysis and written presentation as preparation for a third year dissertation in classical civilisation. You will write a 5,000 word essay chosen from a range of topics, each focusing on a single piece of ancient source material. You will be provided with a topic for investigation, starter bibliography and tips on how to approach the question. The questions will suggest a range of possible approaches, from evaluation of historical source material to exploration of literary effects, relationships with other material, discussion of context or reception. For this module you will have a mixture of lectures and four 2-hour seminars over a period of 10 weeks.
Religion and the Romans

Religion was central to all aspects of Roman life, but did the Romans really 'believe'?

This module explores the traditions and rituals that operated in Roman society, from the earliest stages of archaic Rome, to the advent of Christianity. It will help you to make sense of customs and practices that could baffle even the Romans themselves, alongside showing how the religious system controlled Roman social, political and military activities.

You will examine evidence drawn from the late Republic and early Principate, and use literature and images from the Augustan period as a central hinge for studying the dynamics of religion in Rome.

Topics covered include:

  • The definition of 'religion' and comparative studies
  • Early Rome and the origins of religion
  • The calendar temples and other religious buildings
  • Priesthoods and politics
  • Sacrifice
  • The deification of the emperor
  • Foreign cults in Rome
  • The supposed 'decline of religion'
  • Early Christianity

This module is worth 20 credits.

The World of the Etruscans

When Rome was still a small town, and before Athens became a city of international significance, the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean.

But who were the Etruscans? The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates, renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.

In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.

By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Themes in Near Eastern Prehistory

You will critically examine themes in Near Eastern Prehistory. The themes take you from the development of agriculture, pastoralism and sedentism to the appearance of the first cities, states and writing. Drawing directly from current research, you will use case studies to examine these themes. You will use archaeological evidence to understand how these developments are reflected in social, religious, economic and political organisations of the prehistoric Near East. You will attend weekly lectures and seminars. After appropriate guidance, you will take part in learning activities includes:

  • setting readings
  • presenting
  • running classroom discussions.

You will receive feedback on these participatory activities. You will write an essay for your formal assessment.

Human Osteology and Evolution

What can we learn from the human skeleton? How can we tell the stories of past people from their bones?

In this module, you will handle real archaeological skeletons and learn how to identify their age, sex, stature and pathologies, and how we can reconstruct past populations from burial evidence.

We also take a fieldtrip to one of Nottingham’s oldest and largest cemeteries, to see who is was buried there and the type of monuments they received.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Origins and Rise of Aegean Civilisation

In the early 20th century, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’s excavations at the site of Knossos on the island of Crete uncovered the remains of the earliest palatial civilisation in Europe. Knossos, the home of the mythical king Minos and the monstrous Minotaur, became the landmark of a new culture termed as ‘Minoan’.

Based on a combination of lectures and workshops, this module introduces students to the origins of the Aegean complex societies from the late 4th millennium BC and to the rise, apogee and fall of the Minoan palatial, state-level societies of the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC. 

The Archaeology of Mycenaean Greece

This module introduces the archaeology of the Mycenaean world. It will familiarise you with the achievements and material culture of one of the greatest European Bronze Age civilizations of the second millennium BC. This will be through discussing the historical, social, cultural and economic context of the period.

You will explore:

  • The world of the Mycenaean palaces and citadels, their towns and trading ports
  • Warfare
  • Religion and cult activities
  • Mortuary practices and ancestor worship

We also consider their wider connections across the Mediterranean world.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Human-Animal-Landscape Relationships

This module aims to show how data can be drawn together from multiple sources to highlight closely interwoven human-(non-human)animal-landscape relationships.

As these are often indivisible, in reality if not worldview, the themes studied in this course would allow for a nuanced understanding of past societies but also a critical reflection of our own interactions.

The periods and contents covered in this module can be tailored to fit your individual interests, teaching and research needs. You will produce original course content and make positive contributions to seminar discussions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Through a Glass Darkly

Ancient glass is a unique and beautiful translucent material. Since it was invented some 5000 years ago, it has been used for everything from luxurious and decorative objects, to vessels and containers for traded liquids, to coloured windows used in medieval churches and cathedrals.

On this module, you will explore how glass:

  • is made from raw materials
  • was coloured and decorated
  • was used in a variety of functional and ritual contexts, from the Bronze Age to the medieval period

We bring together socio-cultural and scientific perspectives, to show how scientific analysis sheds light on glass technology, trade and provenance. During practical sessions, you will handle ancient glass and try out some of the techniques for yourself.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core modules (40 credits) – you will undertake your own research project and dissertation
  • Archaeological heritage modules (40-80 credits) – you will take a minimum of two modules with a strong heritage component. A selection of modules from this group will be offered in both year two and three
  • Additional optional archaeology modules (0-40 credits) – choose from a range of additional topics
  • Optional modules from other subjects (0-20) – choose from a range

You’ll have at least eight hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.

You must pass year three, which counts as 67% towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Classics and Archaeology Dissertation

This module will introduce you to original archaeological research. It provides you with an opportunity to undertake and write up your own substantial piece of work on an approved topic, under the supervision of an academic member of staff.

For this project, you will work in a way similar to an academic archaeologist, which includes:

  • identifying a suitable research topic
  • critically evaluating the issues relating to the subject area
  • sustaining a coherent and cogent argument.

This undertaking will involve the culmination of the range of core practical and interpretative skills acquired during the first two years of the course.

The below are examples of recent archaeology dissertation topics:

  • Skeletal trauma in the Danelaw
  • Gender in Viking Age burials
  • Archaeology of beauty and cosmetics in Ancient Egypt
  • Chinese glass
  • Faunal analysis: can we dismiss unstratified material?
  • Execution cemeteries: an Anglo-Saxon and Norman comparison
  • Analysis of crouch burials
  • Georgian architecture and power
  • Constructing identities in early medieval Europe through cemetery evidence
  • How did medieval England’s punishment compare to punishment in France?

Classics dissertation topics:

  • Kingship in the Iliad
  • The Huns as ‘barbarians’: identity in Ammianus Marcellinus
  • Portrayal of the elderly in Hellenistic sculpture
  • Myths and monsters in early Greek art
  • Ancient magic in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The changing presentation of imperial women from AD 284-330
  • Huns, Picts, vandals and goths as ‘barbarians’
  • Comparison of Athenian and Persian 5th Century BC art
  • The impact of imagery of Alexander the Great on the Augustan period

Archaeological heritage modules

Choose 40-80 credits from a range and not already taken in year two. 

The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England

This module considers the archaeology of England from the end of the Roman occupation until the Norman conquest. You will explore the question of the Romano-British survival and the formation of new Anglo-Saxon societies, evidence of pagan beliefs and the conversion to Christianity; on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Viking incursions and Danish impact on England. 

Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)

This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.

We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.

You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.

We will examine:

  • the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
  • the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
  • the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
  • the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire

You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions

This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.

The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:

  • The definitions of the Silk Roads
  • Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
  • Luxury production
  • Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
  • Ming Dynasty links with the West

Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Archaeology additional optional modules

Choose 0-40 credits from a range, which may include:

From Petra to Palmyra: Art and Culture in the Roman Near East

This module focuses on the variety of local cults and cultures in the Near East (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Jordan) under Roman rule. We will zoom in on a number of localities in order to look at social, cultural and religious interactions between Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and various other local cultures through literary, epigraphic, visual and archaeological evidence. In the great urban centres such as Palmyra, Tyre, Damascus, we will observe the adoption of the trappings of Graeco-Roman urbanism and public life (from peristyle temples to honorific statues) and their significance within the Second Sophistic.

On the other hand, we will explore alternative “pockets” of non-Hellenisation such as the lava lands of southern Syria with their distinct style of art and architecture in black basalt. ‘Oriental’ gods feature prominently in this module: We will explore their great sanctuaries (Temple of Jupiter at Heliopolis-Baalbek, Temple of Bel at Palmyra, Temple of Zeus at Damascus) in terms of architecture and ritual, and investigate their iconographies (Jupiter Heliopolitanus, Bel, Baalshamin, Atargatis of Hierapolis and myriads of other local gods). In contrast to Judaism and Christianity, there is a colossal lack of literary sources for these gods, and as a consequence, our understanding of their function and character hinges on how their worshippers depicted them in reliefs, statues, figurines and paintings.

Extended Source Study
This module is designed to develop your skills of research, analysis and written presentation as preparation for a third year dissertation in classical civilisation. You will write a 5,000 word essay chosen from a range of topics, each focusing on a single piece of ancient source material. You will be provided with a topic for investigation, starter bibliography and tips on how to approach the question. The questions will suggest a range of possible approaches, from evaluation of historical source material to exploration of literary effects, relationships with other material, discussion of context or reception. For this module you will have a mixture of lectures and four 2-hour seminars over a period of 10 weeks.
Religion and the Romans

Religion was central to all aspects of Roman life, but did the Romans really 'believe'?

This module explores the traditions and rituals that operated in Roman society, from the earliest stages of archaic Rome, to the advent of Christianity. It will help you to make sense of customs and practices that could baffle even the Romans themselves, alongside showing how the religious system controlled Roman social, political and military activities.

You will examine evidence drawn from the late Republic and early Principate, and use literature and images from the Augustan period as a central hinge for studying the dynamics of religion in Rome.

Topics covered include:

  • The definition of 'religion' and comparative studies
  • Early Rome and the origins of religion
  • The calendar temples and other religious buildings
  • Priesthoods and politics
  • Sacrifice
  • The deification of the emperor
  • Foreign cults in Rome
  • The supposed 'decline of religion'
  • Early Christianity

This module is worth 20 credits.

The World of the Etruscans

When Rome was still a small town, and before Athens became a city of international significance, the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean.

But who were the Etruscans? The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates, renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.

In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.

By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Themes in Near Eastern Prehistory

You will critically examine themes in Near Eastern Prehistory. The themes take you from the development of agriculture, pastoralism and sedentism to the appearance of the first cities, states and writing. Drawing directly from current research, you will use case studies to examine these themes. You will use archaeological evidence to understand how these developments are reflected in social, religious, economic and political organisations of the prehistoric Near East. You will attend weekly lectures and seminars. After appropriate guidance, you will take part in learning activities includes:

  • setting readings
  • presenting
  • running classroom discussions.

You will receive feedback on these participatory activities. You will write an essay for your formal assessment.

Human Osteology and Evolution

What can we learn from the human skeleton? How can we tell the stories of past people from their bones?

In this module, you will handle real archaeological skeletons and learn how to identify their age, sex, stature and pathologies, and how we can reconstruct past populations from burial evidence.

We also take a fieldtrip to one of Nottingham’s oldest and largest cemeteries, to see who is was buried there and the type of monuments they received.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Origins and Rise of Aegean Civilisation

In the early 20th century, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’s excavations at the site of Knossos on the island of Crete uncovered the remains of the earliest palatial civilisation in Europe. Knossos, the home of the mythical king Minos and the monstrous Minotaur, became the landmark of a new culture termed as ‘Minoan’.

Based on a combination of lectures and workshops, this module introduces students to the origins of the Aegean complex societies from the late 4th millennium BC and to the rise, apogee and fall of the Minoan palatial, state-level societies of the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC. 

The Archaeology of Mycenaean Greece

This module introduces the archaeology of the Mycenaean world. It will familiarise you with the achievements and material culture of one of the greatest European Bronze Age civilizations of the second millennium BC. This will be through discussing the historical, social, cultural and economic context of the period.

You will explore:

  • The world of the Mycenaean palaces and citadels, their towns and trading ports
  • Warfare
  • Religion and cult activities
  • Mortuary practices and ancestor worship

We also consider their wider connections across the Mediterranean world.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean c. 500-1500 CE

Explore archaeological evidence from a time of significant social, political, economic and climate change, which laid the foundations of the modern world. 

We'll focus on the development of European societies around the Mediterranean, Africa and across Eurasia in the medieval period. You will study the:

  • Transformation of European and Mediterranean landscapes and settlement patterns, from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance
  • Towns of western Europe, Byzantium and the Islamic world
  • Impact of climate change, epidemic disease and population growth
  • Rise of kingdoms, states and empires
  • Development of nearly global trade networks in Europe, Africa and Asia, resulting in permanent European settlement in the Americas

Your lectures and seminars consider interdisciplinary approaches to these topics. They will also consider what they can tell us about social and economic change, ideologies and social identities over 1000 years of human history.

The teaching on climate, societal and economic change, is driven from the module tutor's European ice-core research, which gained national media coverage. You can also benefit from hands-on learning, using the Medieval European collections at our on-site Archaeology Museum.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules from other departments

Choose 0-20 credits from a range which may include, but is not limited to: 

Modern language modules

Our Language Centre offers a range of modern language options to complement your degree. You may study from Stage 1a (complete beginners) to Stage 6 (near native speaker competence), dependent on your existing skills. Languages include:

  • Arabic
  • French 
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin Chinese 
  • Russian
  • Spanish

You may also choose from non-language modules: 

  • Language and Language Learning
  • Culture of Arabic Language Learning
  • Teaching and Learning Foreign Languages 
Photography in the 19th Century

The module will review the origins of photography; early commentaries and debates on the new medium’s status; the identity of those who became photographers; the dominant genres employed in photographic imagery; the developing culture of reproduction, exhibition, and photography criticism. The module will explore the connections and conflicts between 19th-century photography and art. It will also consider the relationship between 19th-century photography and travel, science, and problems of social ideology. 

History of the Civil Rights Movement

This module examines a range of documents and scholarly controversies pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement between 1940 and 1970. Documents will include public and organisational records, photo-journalism, speeches, memoir and personal papers.

Controversies will include those relating to the chronological limits, spatial dynamics, and gender politics of the movement, as well as those relating to the movement’s goals and achievements.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take and which books you choose to buy. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (e.g. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Compulsory archaeological fieldwork

Many of our excavations incur some expenses, including flights to overseas destinations, and training fees. Where costs are incurred, you will need to pay in advance. You can claim back a proportion of your costs from the department on completion of your fieldwork. In 2019/20 students were entitled to claim back £30 of expenses per day of fieldwork; this amount is subject to change.

More information on fieldwork.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements e.g. work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Optional field trips

Field trips allow you to engage with source materials on a personal level and to develop different perspectives. They are optional and costs to you vary according to the trip; some require you to arrange your own travel, refreshments and entry fees, while some are some are wholly subsidised.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

A degree in historical archaeology gives you a wide range of transferable skills, including:

  • ability to process and critically evaluate data
  • applying theoretical and scientific principles to problems
  • critical analysis and argument
  • experience of fieldwork, post-excavation and laboratory techniques
  • ability to interpret spatial data numerical, statistical, IT and analytical skills
  • strong team working
  • written, oral and visual communication

View our Classics and Archaeology graduate profiles

You can learn more about subject-related careers opportunities from our Careers and Employability Services.

 

Average starting salary and career progression

75.1% of undergraduates from the School of Humanities secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,180*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.