Archaeology BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Hons Archaeology
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time) 
A level offer
ABB-BBB (or BCC via foundation year)
Required subjects
None specific 
IB score
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


This course will help you understand the discipline of archaeology and how archaeologists use material evidence to interpret the past.
Read full overview

This course aims to introduce you to the discipline of archaeology and to explain how archaeologists use material evidence to interpret the past. Archaeology covers the entire 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. It combines approaches from both the humanities and the sciences, and constant new discoveries are being made that change our understanding of past human societies. We will provide you with a core training in archaeological methods and techniques, and an overview of the archaeology of Britain, Europe and the wider world. As you progress into the second and third years you can choose to specialise in particular periods and topics within archaeology, and you will develop the skills to undertake your own independent research.

It is compulsory for you to gain archaeological experience in the UK or overseas by participating in an approved excavation project or related work experience placement (20 days for Single Honours students, 10 days for Joint Honours students). Look at our website for more information.

As well as the wide range of modules offered by the Department of Classics and Archaeology, each year you also have the option to take some subsidiary modules offered by other Departments such as History, Philosophy or History of Art, or to study a language

Year one

Year one will lay the foundation of your study of archaeology with core modules in the principles and methods of archaeological investigation, as not many students have studied archaeology in depth before they come to university. You will be taught how we discover, excavate, record and analyse archaeological evidence ranging from landscapes to buildings and settlements to buried objects and organic remains. You will have training in the field in basic archaeological techniques and you will study the core principles of archaeological science. You will also be given an overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from early prehistory to the industrial revolution, and study key themes such as the archaeology of burials.

In the summer vacation you will complete at least part of your required fieldwork placement.

Year two

In year two you will study more advanced core modules in archaeological research, which will teach you the diverse ways in which we approach and interpret our evidence, and help you to create a research proposal for your third-year dissertation project. You will also study heritage issues and the professional aspects of archaeology, which is essential for anyone who would like to go into a career in the heritage sector, and you will work in groups to create a heritage project based on a local site. You can also choose to study particular periods in more depth such as Roman or Anglo-Saxon archaeology, or specialised topics such as human osteology and evolution or underwater archaeology. 

Year three 

Your final year gives you the chance to undertake your own research project on a topic which you are passionate about and write up a dissertation with the support of a member of staff. Recent dissertations have covered a wide range of subjects, from Bronze Age metal working, ancient cock fighting, and prehistoric tatooing, to Romano-British dress accessories and medieval parish churches. The rest of the year is taken up with a variety of modules of your own choosing from the wide range offered by the Department, which are based on the current research of members of staff. The Department offers modules covering many different aspects of archaeology from prehistory to the medieval period. 

More information 

Please visit the Department of Classics and Archaeology website to find out more about our teaching and research.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB-BBB

This course may also be accessed via a foundation year for which the entry requirements are BCC at A level, find out more here.

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

For details please see alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


Understanding the Past - Introduction to Archaeology

What is archaeology? How do we decide where to excavate and what happens after that? How do we date our sites and finds? This module will answer these questions and many more! In this module we look at the history of the discipline and how the evidence uncovered during excavation is discovered, recorded, and analysed, and how we use this to provide evidence for human societies from prehistory to the present day. You also go ‘into the field’ with integrated fieldwork at nearby Wollaton Park where you can learn and practise new skills such as mapping and surveying earthworks and buildings.


Introduction to Archaeological Science

The use of methods from biological and earth sciences has transformed the practice of archaeology from the discovery of radiocarbon dating to the use of stable isotope analysis to trace the movements and diet of past populations. This module will introduce you to some of the key developments in archaeological science over the last 50 years and will show you how scientific methods have dramatically changed our understanding of the past, ranging from the study of archaeological materials and artefacts to environmental archaeology. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and practical classes.


The Archaeology of Britain

This module provides you with an overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from the earliest humans up to the industrial revolution. By focusing on Britain as a ‘time core’ we will provide you with a clear understanding of the dynamics of cultural change as well as introducing you to all the important sites and discoveries that are on your doorstep. Teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and fieldtrips. The module covers the entire story of Britain, beginning in the Palaeolithic period, ranging across Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age societies, to consider the Roman occupation, Anglo-Saxon and Viking incursions, and medieval, Tudor and modern Britain. It will reveal that, as today, the British Isles have always been cosmopolitan – a rich mix of cultures and identities that have resulted from millennia of colonisations, migrations and invasions.


Archaeology: The Living and the Dead

This module deals with the archaeology of life and death in all its complexity and diversity. You will learn about the major archaeological discoveries that have fundamentally changed our interpretations of past peoples. We also look at the personalities and ideologies that have shaped our discipline, noting how changing perspectives on gender, ethnicity and class have in turn shaped our ideas about the past. The module then turns to the archaeology of death – since, paradoxically, this can tell us a huge amount about the living. The cultural and scientific study of human remains will give you insights into past diets, social status, health and attitudes towards different members of society, while the study of burial practices and rituals cast light on the structure of human societies and their beliefs, from prehistory to the modern era.


Typical year two modules


Archaeological Research: Theory and Practice

The excitement of discovery and research is the foundation of everything we do as archaeologists. This module is aimed at helping you to develop more advanced research skills and to discover how we interpret archaeological evidence from multiple different perspectives. Here we explore how changes in the wider social and theoretical landscape have affected archaeological understanding through time. You will be introduced to the concepts and methods that you will put into practice in your third year dissertation or independent project, and learn how to develop a research proposal. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, class workshops and research skills sessions.

Archaeology and Society: Heritage and Professional Skills

This module will introduce the structure and context of the professional archaeological sector in the UK, and issues and debates in cultural heritage. It will outline the process of working in archaeology and the type of work carried out by commercial units, museums, and local and national government heritage originations, with careers advice from professional archaeologists across the sector. Students will learn how archaeologists plan excavation projects, study the archaeology of standing buildings, and manage the historic environment. In the spring term, you will apply this knowledge and develop your research, presentation and team-working skills through a group multi-media heritage project focused on a local historic or archaeological site.



Exploring Archaeological Science 

This module is designed to provide you with a solid understanding of the theory and practice of scientific archaeology, building on what you have learnt in the first year, and covers a series of exciting topics, ranging from bioarchaeology (zooarchaeology and archaeobotany) to ancient technologies. You will learn how to identify, analyse and interpret plant remains and animal bones, and how these can be employed to study diet, economic practices and cultural identities in the past. You will explore how glass, pottery and metal objects were made, used and traded, using a range of different approaches and techniques combining theory, ethnography and scientific analysis. The module includes a combination of lectures and practical sessions which will enhance your understanding and equip you with real skills to increase your employability should you seek a career in archaeology.


Underwater Archaeology

Doing archaeology underwater is one of the most challenging but exciting contexts in which we work! This module will provide you with a broad introduction to current methods and practice of Underwater Archaeology. The module explores themes such as shipwrecks, submerged cities and sunken harbours, lake dwelling and freshwater archaeology, using case studies ranging in space from Scandinavia to Australia and in time from 1500 BC to the last century. It tackles the varied techniques of underwater excavation, finds processing and conservation, and the issue of cultural resource management vs. treasure hunting.


Empires and Identity

This module will examine the archaeology of empire, hegemony and identity in three different historical periods, exploring how archaeological material can shed light on ways in which empires were experienced by both colonisers and colonised. We will start with Rome, arguably the model for many later imperial projects, and assess the evidence for the expansion of the empire and the ways in which Roman and other identities are manifested. We will then consider the medieval empires of northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the relationship between the Islamic world and the Crusader kingdoms of the Latin east. Finally, we will consider the Age of Discovery and the growth of European trans-Atlantic empires in the early modern era, exploring archaeological evidence for early colonial settlements, the growth of slavery, and the impact on native peoples.


Human Osteology and Evolution

What can we learn from the human skeleton and 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 consider the skeleton in terms of human evolution, examining the anatomical differences between human and non-human primates, as well as the archaeology and life ways of our earliest ancestors. 


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. 


Typical year three modules


Dissertation in Archaeology

This module will introduce you to original archaeological research by providing you with an opportunity to undertake and write up your own substantial piece of work of 10-12,000 words, 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, from identifying a suitable research topic to critically evaluating the issues relating to the subject area and 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 Archaeology of the Medieval City

The aim of this module is to provide you with a broad knowledge of the archaeological evidence for the development of cities and urban life in the later medieval period AD 1000-1500, with a focus on English towns and cities in their wider Europe context. The module will explore the integration of varied sources of archaeological evidence including urban landscapes, buildings and material culture, covering key themes such as urban growth, trade and industry, households and daily life, guilds and the Church. 

Rome and the Mediterranean

In this module you will examine the archaeological evidence for the Roman period in Italy and the Mediterranean from 300 BC to AD 550. The major social, cultural and economic changes of the region in this period will be discussed as well as in the context of wider historical and archaeological approaches to the Mediterranean. Through a combination of lectures and seminars you will learn about Rome’s expansion into Italy and the Mediterranean, and the changes that occurred in towns, domestic building, rural settlement, religion, economy and society across the period from the Republic until Late Antiquity.

The Archaeology of Mycenaean Greece

This module will introduce you to the archaeology of the Mycenaean world and will give you familiarity with the achievements and the material culture of one of the greatest European Bronze Age civilizations of the second millennium BC, by 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, and their wider connections across the Mediterranean world.


Dead Important: archaeological answers to modern-day issues

Archaeology may be focused on the study of the past, but we believe that it is vitally important to help us understand the present and make a contribution to the future. This really exciting module breaks new ground by using archaeology to inform present-day concerns caused by increasing human population, intensification of food production, urbanisation, globalisation, climate change and inter-cultural conflict. None of these issues are purely modern phenomena, and this module brings an archaeological perspective covering 10,000 years of global culture change, using the innovative research being undertaken in our Department, to model bio-cultural dynamics and make a contribution to understanding and meeting the challenges facing the modern world.


Food and Culture: An exploration of tastes

Food is not just about nutrition and environment but it has also a strong socio-cultural dimension. This module takes an innovative approach to understanding the social role of food and plants, linking the past to current issues of food security, sustainability, trade and social in/stability. The module tackles issues such as the development of tastes, identity, social status, ethnicity, health and medicine, and feasting and commensality. It will explore the creation of ‘foodscapes’ and the investigation of diet and plants that cross boundaries in space and time from prehistory to the modern era, bringing together perspectives from archaeology, anthropology, sociology and geography.


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 a wide range of functions, from luxurious and decorative objects, to vessels and containers for traded liquids, to the coloured windows used in medieval churches and cathedrals. This module covers how glass is made from raw materials, how it was coloured and decorated, and how it was used in a variety of functional and ritual contexts from the Bronze Age to the medieval period. The module brings together socio-cultural and scientific perspectives to show how scientific analysis sheds light on glass technology, trade and provenance, and during practical sessions students will handle ancient glass and try out some of the techniques for themselves.



Our Archaeology degrees have been designed to provide extensive general training in archaeology. You will get acquainted with a full range of theoretical, analytical and field methods in the discipline, and you will gain broad knowledge of human culture from the Palaeolithic to the medieval period, and an in-depth understanding of some of the most exciting areas and periods of human past. 

A course in archaeology fosters many vital skills. Researching and presenting your work involves a high degree of creativity and you will learn how to be careful and precise in presenting data and carrying out analysis of a range of subjects. The course helps you to develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way in written, visual and oral presentations Archaeology is highly collaborative, and by working in groups in the classroom and in the field you will demonstrate your advanced team-working and communication abilities. A degree in archaeology from the University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent and hard-working individual who is flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

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, governmental or heritage organisations and museums and heritage. Other sectors of employment include education, media, business, financial services, journalism, law and the armed forces.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 93.2% of undergraduates in the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,205 with the highest being £38,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Careers support and advice

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.  


Fees and funding

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 £2,000 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/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

How to use the data

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.


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Department of Archaeology
School of Humanities
The University of Nottingham
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