Skip to main content
Degree type

BA

Course length

3 years full-time

Location

Durham City

UCAS code

VQ48

Ready to Apply?

Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
BTEC DDD
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in an ancient civilisation? Are you fascinated by what the civilisations of the past can teach us about the present?

This course gives you a good overview of the world of archaeology, but also allows you to focus in particular on the great ancient civilisations of Europe, the Near East and Asia, including Ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

This degree offers great flexibility, with options to take modules from other departments, including Classics and Ancient History. Depending on your module choices you may even be able to receive professional accreditation from the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

Using archaeological techniques and approaches, this course puts the heritage of Greece and Rome under the lens. Drawing on the latest research, it also provides a chance to explore Egypt and North Africa, as well as the lesser-known civilisations of the Near East and South Asia. The course provides an exciting mix of traditional scholarship and field-based skills.

The course offers an optional study abroad element, where you may spend the third year of a four-year course studying at an overseas university. You can also put your learning into practice by applying to add a placement year to your degree.

Course Structure

Year 1

Core modules:

Ancient Civilisations: Sources, Approaches and Methods* gives you a grounding in a range of scientific methods and techniques used in contemporary archaeology, and will help you develop a critical awareness of the potential and limitations of each.

Archaeology Practicals introduces field and laboratory techniques for the recording and analysis of primary materials, sites and monuments, using group work wherever possible.

Cities in Antiquity provides you with a broad overview of the archaeology of the Greco-Roman world from 800 BC to AD 400. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and to practice your evaluative skills through essay writing and a written examination.

Introduction to Archaeological Methods* provides you with a grounding in a range of scientific methods and techniques used in archaeology today, and will help you to develop a critical awareness of the potential and limitations of each.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Archaeology in Britain
  • Discovering World Prehistory
  • Ancient Civilisations of the East
  • Medieval to Modern: An Introduction to the Archaeology of the Medieval to Post-Medieval World.

Year 2

Core modules:

Professional Training* (requires three weeks of fieldwork in the summer before starting Year 2) uses practical experience to give you an understanding of the objectives and operation of a fieldwork project and how data and material produced by archaeological projects is processed.

Developing Archaeological Research* develops your understanding of research design and the practical skills necessary for archaeological research. You will develop skills in graphics, illustration and presentation techniques as well as learning the basic theory behind research design.

Ancient Mediterranean Civilisations: East and West gives you a broad overview of the archaeology of the Mediterranean from 750 BC to AD 700. It also allows you to develop your knowledge and to practice your evaluative skills through essays and seminar presentations and a written examination.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Advanced Skills
  • Prehistoric Europe: From Foragers to State Formation
  • Becoming Roman: from Iron Age to Empire in Italy and the West
  • Archaeology of Medieval and Post-medieval Britain in its European Context
  • The East Mediterranean in the Bronze Age
  • Scientific Methods in Archaeology.

Year 3 (Year 4 if undertaking a placement or year abroad)

Core modules:

Archaeology Dissertation* significantly develops your skills in independent research, the analysis and presentation of evidence and how to structure a persuasive argument. This will involve writing an extended dissertation in your chosen specialist area of archaeology.

Specialised Aspects in Archaeology will help you develop an understanding of specialised aspects of archaeology, chosen from a list of topics representing the main areas of research in the Department.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

  • Advanced Professional Training (requires three weeks of fieldwork in the summer before starting Year 3)
  • Current Archaeology
  • Interpreting Heritage
  • Museum Representation.
  • Archaeology and Global Sustainable Development.

All modules marked with * form part of an Accredited CIfA pathway.

Fieldwork

You will undertake six weeks of compulsory fieldwork – three weeks at our field school in Year 1, and three weeks at an excavation of your choice in Year 2.

Additional pathways

Students on the BA in Archaeology and Ancient Civilisations can apply to be transferred onto either the ‘with Year Abroad’ or ‘with Placement’ pathway during the second year. Places on these pathways are in high demand and if you are chosen your studies will extend from three years to four.

Placement

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Learning

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes, fieldwork and excavation, with informal one-on-one support alongside self-directed research and reading.

We also offer an extensive programme of research-focused seminars where staff and visiting scholars present their cutting-edge research.

Fieldwork at Durham allows you to get stuck into real archaeological work, supported by academic staff. Alongside the practical classes this gives you hands-on experience of professional archaeology. The small-group and practical work prioritises your learning experience over the number of formal sessions, with increasing focus on independent research as you move from your first to your final year. As such, the course transforms you from a consumer of knowledge in a classroom to a generator of knowledge in the field, ready for professional or postgraduate life.

Assessment

On this course you will be assessed through your coursework, traditional skills and presentations, as well as through hands-on practical exercises, including archaeological fieldwork.

In the final year you will write a dissertation, led by independent research and supported by one-on-one supervision.

Entry requirements

A level offerAAB.

Contextual offer – BBC.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma DDD.

IB Diploma score36 with 665 in higher level subjects.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We also consider other level 3 qualifications, including T-levels.

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Science A levels

Applicants taking Science A levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A levels with an English examination board.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2025/26 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Our close links with industry specialists coupled with in-house archaeological facilities give you a taste of the industry from the beginning of the course. This experience helps develop a broad range of subject-specific skills from osteology, geochemistry and the conservation of archaeological objects, to survey and remote sensing techniques and applications for Geographic Information Systems.

Transferable skills include problem-solving, metadata analysis and information technology, as well as teamwork, presentation, project planning and management. These skills are valued across many industries.

Our graduates work for organisations all over the world, from national and international heritage organisations, museums, environmental agencies, and commercial archaeological services to law and publishing, forensic science, teaching, tourism, and local and national government.

Of those students who graduated in 2020-21:

  • 82% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 88% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £25,700

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here www.graduateoutcomes.ac.uk)

Department information

Gain an understanding of the present by unlocking the past. Combine academic theory with lab and fieldwork and the examination of historic objects when you study in this world-leading Department at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Archaeology at Durham is an exciting and diverse discipline that delves into the past to inform our understanding of the modern world. Covering a wide range of topics from early human development and ancient civilisations to colonialism and slavery in the early modern world, this broad-based discipline can take you into many different careers.

We are an inclusive and vibrant international teaching and research community that offers plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, from research seminars and reading groups to field-based projects. Our research-led approach to learning means you will be taught by subject specialists whose wide-ranging interests span World, European and British archaeology from the last ice age to the post-medieval period.

Combining practical work with traditional academic study, you will explore archaeological sites and historic buildings, study scientific methods, archaeological theories and computer techniques. Fieldwork takes you around the world, with previous projects ranging from Africa to the Lebanon. Closer to home you will learn about the rich and varied heritage of the UK. Our location in Durham is ideal for the study of archaeology with UNESCO World Heritage Site, such as Durham Cathedral and Hadrian's Wall on our doorstep.

We offer a range of single and joint honours BA and BSc degrees with flexible pathways to suit your interests and career goals, and most courses include the possibility of a work placement or year abroad.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • 10th in the QS World University Subject Rankings for Archaeology 2023

  • 1st in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2024

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see our Archaeology pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 97% of our research outputs graded world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2021)

Facilities

We are based in the Dawson Building at the heart of the Durham city campus. We are one of the most comprehensively equipped archaeology departments in the UK with research laboratories in DNA, conservation, isotope analysis, environmental archaeology, luminescence dating, paleopathology and bone chemistry.

The Department is also home to a leading commercial archaeological fieldwork unit. This enables us to provide expert training in excavation and fieldwork techniques from working archaeologists. In addition, we have a number of dedicated library collections and a gallery which hosts our extensive collection of archaeological artefacts.

Fieldtrips are an important part of the student experience at Durham. First year students undertake a two-week placement, with most working on our internationally significant excavations at Auckland Castle. Second- and third-year undergraduates join us on digs around the world to gain international experience, with recent projects in France, Spain, Kuwait, Nepal and Egypt.

Apply

Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:

Apply

VQ48

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Register for an Undergraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Ancient History - BA

UCAS Code: V110
Start: September 2025
Ancient History

Ancient History and Archaeology - BA

UCAS Code: VF14
Start: September 2025
Ancient History and Archaeology

Ancient, Medieval and Modern History - BA

UCAS Code: V101
Start: September 2025
Ancient, Medieval and Modern History

Anthropology and Archaeology - BA

UCAS Code: LF64
Start: September 2025
Anthropology and Archaeology

Archaeology - BA

UCAS Code: F400
Start: September 2025
Archaeology

Archaeology - BSc

UCAS Code: F402
Start: September 2025
Archaeology

Archaeology with Foundation - BSc

UCAS Code: F403
Start: September 2025
Archaeology with Foundation

Archaeology with Foundation - BA

UCAS Code: V400
Start: September 2025
Archaeology with Foundation

Historical Archaeology - BA

UCAS Code: F411
Start: September 2025
Historical Archaeology