Archaeology and History BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons Archaeology and History
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
including history, preferably at grade A
IB score
32 (usually including 6 in history at Higher Level) 
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


From the first hunter-gatherers to the complex societies of the medieval and modern periods, this course allows you to study the past not just through texts and images but through material remains.
Read full overview

Aimed at those with a particular interest in the full range of human history, from the first hunter-gatherers to the complex societies of the medieval and modern periods, this course allows students to study the past not just through texts and images but through material remains. In archaeology, you will take introductory modules before studying more scientific approaches. You will also have the opportunity to participate actively in field work. In history, you will begin with a general outline of European and world history. The rest of your history course will be made up of modules that cover 500 CE to the present.

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 department website or more information.

Year one 

Year one will lay the foundation for your study of archaeology with core modules in archaeological principles and methods, and the archaeology of Britain from prehistory to the Industrial Revolution. In history, you will study the core module Learning History, as well as two modules chosen from a selection of early modern, medieval, and post-1789 survey options.

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 themes in archaeological research and choose from a wide range of optional modules covering topics from the Roman Empire to underwater archaeology. The core element in history is provided by the compulsory module, the Contemporary World since 1945. The focus of this course is not just on global developments (political and economic, social and cultural, environmental and demographic), but also on exploring key historical debates concerning the immediate origins of the world in which we now live.

Alongside this module, you will be able to select from an extremely wide range of options covering topics from the Anglo-Saxons through to the late 20th century. 

Year three

In year three you will have the option of writing a dissertation in either history or archaeology. In history, your dissertation would normally be linked to your Special Subject, a year-long, in-depth research-based module that students choose from a wide menu. You will also have the option of studying a selection of advanced optional modules in history or archaeology.

More information

Please visit the Department of History and Department of Classics and Archaeology websites.

Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, usually including an A in history at A level (general studies and critical thinking are not accepted for A level)

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

We recognise that applicants have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education.

Consequently we treat all applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) on an individual basis, and we gladly accept students with a whole range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

Please see the alternative qualifications page for more information.

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


Learning History

This module will provide you with the skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history.

You will be introduced to different approaches and perspectives in the study of history. The module also encourages you to reflect on the place, role and function of history within society.

The module aims to:

  • encourage more effective learning
  • bridge the transition from school or college to university
  • prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline
  • enhance the skills.

You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

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.


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 in 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.



Introduction to the Medieval World, 500–1500

This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500–1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organisation, social and economic life and cultural developments. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.


From Reformation to Revolution: An Introduction to Early Modern History: 1500–1789

This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.


Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History, 1789–1945

In the first semester, the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789-1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.


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.


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.

Typical year two modules


The Contemporary World since 1945

This module surveys and analyses some of the main developments in world affairs since the end of the Second World War. This includes major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War, as well as national and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East. The module also looks at key political and social movements. Attention is paid to political, economic and social forces. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

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 changed 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.


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



Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages

The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of stereotypical villains such as ‘the Jew’. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

The Crusaders

This module addresses evidence for crusader motivation and experience through sources relating to crusading activity in Europe and the Middle East from the late eleventh century to the mid-13th century. It seeks to understand how crusaders saw themselves and their enemies, their experiences and activity on crusade and as settlers, and how this horrifying yet enduringly fascinating process has been interpreted historically. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

The Venetian Republic, 1450–1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, 1970–1990

This module examines the social and cultural impact of economic change in three traditional industrial regions in the UK, Germany and the US in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including: overlaps and differences between Contemporary History and the Social Sciences; change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding; political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures, among others. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

Soviet State and Society

This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.


Race, Rights and Propaganda: The Politics of Race and Identity in the Cold War Era, 1945-1990 

The Cold War was a conflict defined as much by intellectual and cultural struggle as by conventional military means, diplomacy, or realpolitik. Conceptions of race and identity were by no means immune from this, but heavily disputed and contested in the political environment of the Cold War. This module examines how the two superpowers dealt with issues of race and identity during the Cold War years, confronting questions and challenges from both within their own borders (and each other’s) and in several theatres of superpower conflict - including the Middle East, East Asia and post-colonial Africa. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

Doing History

You will also attend a non-assessed weekly lecture module throughout the year called ‘Doing History’. This builds on the first-year core module Learning History and aims to develop your awareness of the craft of the historian, developing essential skills to get the most out of your second-year options and enabling you to determine what sort of historian you are. It also operates as a bridge to your third and final year, permitting you to make informed decisions about your choice of Special Subject, third-year options, and dissertation.


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 Evidence 

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.


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



This course offers a choice between undertaking the in-depth study of a historical or an archaeological subject from which you will produce a 10-12,000 word dissertation. 



Dark Age Masculinities

This module re-evaluates the history of masculinity in medieval Western culture. Most existing analysis of masculinity in Western culture deals with modern cultures. Yet, many of the key characteristics of this masculinity can plausibly be traced back to the Dark Ages. Students will study such issues as: how to use gender as an analytical tool with which to investigate early medieval evidence; gender ideology; codes of male honour; men's life cycles and fatherhood; relations between the sexes; rituals of violence; military and clerical ideals of masculinity. You will have three hours of seminars and lectures each week for this module.

Italy at War, 1935–45

Spending four hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935-45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema.

Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78

This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an ‘ancient regime’ under the rule of the Shogun into a ‘modern’ imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.


From Racial State to Reconstruction:   Women and Gender Relations in Germany, 1939–45 

This module adopts a perspective of women's and gender history to explore the history of Germany in the period from the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship up to the division of Germany into two post-war states in 1949. It will examine National Socialist discourses, policies and practices in relation to women and gender relations by drawing on records of public authorities and institutions concerned with educating and training the female population in line with Nazi precepts, mobilizing labour for the Nazi war economy, sustaining home front morale, and combating ‘threats to the race’. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.

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.



With an excellent track record of graduate employment, a Nottingham Archaeology and History degree will prepare you for a wide range of professions. Some of the most popular of these are conservation, heritage and environmental protection, journalism, publishing, law, business and finance, national and local government, non-governmental organisations (both national and international), administration, teaching, library and museum work and research-based careers.

A Nottingham Archaeology and History degree can cater for such a diverse field of employment because the skills that you will acquire are versatile, wide-ranging and transferable. We aim to equip our graduates with a broad knowledge of archaeological theories and techniques, an understanding of a range of historical periods, and specialist knowledge of areas in which you have a personal interest. You will learn to think critically, to analyse large amounts and different types of data, to construct logical arguments, to communicate knowledge intelligibly, to work effectively in teams, to manage time and workloads, and to lead discussions and presentations. These skills will develop your capacity to learn and adapt and will therefore equip you with the tools you need to develop your future career.

For more information on the career prospects of Nottingham history graduates, please visit our Careers page.

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.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

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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