archaeology degree courses in uk UNIVERSITIES

Choosing a degree course in Archaeology is quite a daunting task - there are 49 universities and colleges that offer it; and there are so many combinations to choose from.

You can be any age from 18 upwards. Depending on where you come from - United Kingdom, European Union or non-EU - there are different scales of tuition fees. Typically, someone from the UK or EU will pay £9000 per year for three years, in addition to living costs. Most students qualify for a loan - click here for more information on student loans.

The starting place for UK degree courses is UCAS. Here you can check which courses are available and apply for your course.

A search for archaeology degrees will take you to a list of  332 of them for 2012 in 49 locations.

how to choose

Many students choose the area of the UK first - you might not want to be too far from friends and family. Some will make a list of places they would like to stay for three years or more - a lively city perhaps, or somewhere by the seaside where you can surf, swim and sail.

You'll be looking for a good course - good modules and good staff. This isn't so easy to find out. Some universities are great at research - their lecturers and PhD students producing loads of quality books and articles in journals. But this does not always mean that the lecturers take a keen interest in their students, or that they are good communicators. The best trick is to go on some excavations in the summer and talk to students who are already studying at the universities on your shortlist. Ask them which modules they find most interesting, and who are the good lecturers.

There are 26 universities that offer archaeology as a subject on its own - as "Single Honours". The other 400 or so courses are just combinations with other subjects - "Combined Honours".  It's up to you - but my personal opinion is that "Single Honours" is best - it's the fact that you've got a degree that will get you a job later, not so much the subject you studied. And sticking with one group of friends/students for all your lectures is much nicer.

If you want to know about British and European archaeology - Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Medieval - most courses cover it.

If you want to do something a little more exotic - like Egyptology or Classical Archaeology for example, then the choices are much more limited. Egyptology is offered at Liverpool, University College London, Oxford and Swansea.   Classical Archaeology is offered at Edinburgh, Kent, King's College London, Nottingham, Reading, Swansea, Lampeter, University College London, and Warwick.

If you want practical skills, like excavation, "geophys" and surveying, most courses do some, but there are some that specialise in practical archaeology preparing students for one of over 5000 jobs in the UK archaeology 'industry'.

There's a great course-finder website at the British Archaeology Jobs Resource.


So, you're wondering what A Levels or Highers you should study to give you the best chance to get in to an archaeology degree course, Well first, choose the subjects you're best at. It's important that you get good grades, as most of the good courses expect at least Bs and Cs. If you're good at all of them (yeah!), choose Geography, Physics, Maths, English and Languages. History is so different from Archaeology that it's not useful unless you want to apply for a course that specialises in Medieval Archaeology - such as York; or if you plan later studies in Historical Archaeology.

It is especially important that you know what archaeology is all about. Universities want students who will stay the course. It's said that 30% of students in the UK discover they are on the wrong course after they have started - an expensive mistake! So find out what's involved before you apply. Apply to work on excavations in your holidays. You can find a list of excavations on the Council for British Archaeology's website. And you can join your local archaeological society - though you'll find that the majority of members are retired!

Studying for an Archaeology degree is brilliant. It takes you into such a range of different subjects and it trains you to think creatively and critically about anything. You don't have to be planning a career in Archaeology. Like many subjects at University, it develops your mind, and equips you for so many careers.


The great debate on the origins of Britain's early languages has started. Find out the latest news and how you can learn more by following this link.

If you're curious about archaeology, but a total beginner, this site will show you how to find out. Here you'll find advice on good books, weblinks and courses.

Hear the latest archaeological news from around the world, tune in to Win Scutt on BBC Radio Five Live every Tuesday morning at 3.30.

Website by Win Scutt

This book by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn is the best textbook around. It is suitable for GCE 'A' level and degree level archaeology.


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