Combine study of the ancient world with modern scientific techniques.
3 years full-time
This dynamic course brings together the discipline of the scientific laboratory with the excitement of fieldwork. You will get an overview of the world of archaeology and a thorough grounding in the scientific techniques used to explore the past. Depending on your module choices you may receive professional accreditation from the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.
With access to state-of the-art laboratory facilities, and outstanding training from some of the world’s leading archaeological scientists, you will have the opportunity to learn the cutting-edge techniques used in archaeology. These include: DNA and isotopic analysis, Geographical Information Systems, geoarchaeology, archaeobotany and the analysis of human and animal skeletal remains. By the end of your degree you will have a comprehensive set of science and social science research skills for archaeology, but also a range of transferable skills relevant to many careers, including data management and analysis, critical thinking and writing, and written and oral presentation.
You will develop your knowledge through a series of Scientific Methods in Archaeology modules, and build on these with Advanced Skills and Specialised Aspects of Archaeology options. Classroom teaching is supported by small-group tutorials and lab-based practicals. These will guide you in developing your expertise in ancient landscapes and environments, past climate change, diet, migrations, mobility, health, animal-human interactions, scientific dating, materials science, and conservation techniques relevant to archaeological objects.
All BSc Archaeology students can take part in archaeological fieldwork in the UK and abroad, engaging with departmental research projects and learning further archaeological and transferable skills. The degree culminates in a research project, or dissertation, which you will develop under the guidance of a member of staff, many of whom are experts in the field.
Archaeology in Britain gives you a wide-ranging introduction to how archaeologists work, how sites are found and excavated, how archaeological information is generated, theorised and interpreted, and the issues facing archaeology today. It will give you the basic study skills for library work, essays, tutorials and computing. The module also gives a brief overview of British archaeology by period, from the Neolithic to the present day.
Archaeology Practicals* introduces field and laboratory techniques for the recording and analysis of primary materials, sites and monuments, using group work wherever possible.
Scientific Methods in Archaeology 1* provides a grounding in a range of scientific methods and techniques used in archaeology today. It will help you develop a critical awareness of the potential and limitations of data and its analysis when applied to archaeological problems.
Professional Training* (requires three weeks of fieldwork in the summer before starting Year 2). This module 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* (required to take a dissertation in Archaeology at Year 3) uses practical experience to develop your understanding of research design for the final year dissertation 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.
Scientific Methods in Archaeology 2* introduces you to the scientific procedures and methods that are the basis of several key archaeological science techniques. These include: data analysis, scientific dating methods, geophysical techniques, materials analysis and palaeoenvironmental analysis. The module will also give you an insight into the theory behind these techniques, and relating this to discussion of experimental methods used and interpretation of their results.
Advanced Skills in Archaeology* trains you in advanced technical and applied techniques for scientific, field and public archaeology. It gives an opportunity for understanding the context and purpose of these applied methods and techniques and their correct application. The module also equips you with a range of transferable skills relevant to employment and training beyond archaeology, and makes you aware of the potential careers open to you as a graduate.
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.
Scientific Methods in Archaeology 3* develops a critical approach to using scientific techniques in archaeology. It enhances your skills in assessing the scientific and archaeological limitations of techniques and their application, and will examine the latest developments in major techniques. You will also engage with current debates and research in contemporary archaeological science.
Advanced Professional Training (requires three weeks of fieldwork in the summer before starting Year 3). This module gives you an understanding of professional practice and ethics in the archaeology and heritage sector, including practical experience in archaeology working on an excavation, in a museum, a lab-based project or a similar appropriate placement. It will give you an understanding of project design and an opportunity to think about the way projects are managed and the ethics of archaeological practice.
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.
Students on the BSc in Archaeology 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.
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. Along with 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.
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, and this makes up one-third of your final-year marks.
A level - AAB.
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD.
International Baccalaureate score - 36 to include 665 in higher level subjects.
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
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.
International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.
The tuition fees for 2024/25 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.
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
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.
(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)
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 examples of medieval architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and important historic sites, such as Hadrian’s Wall and a Saxon monastery within easy reach.
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.
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.
More information on our facilities and equipment.
The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!