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Students sketching an archaeological piece
BA Archaeology

Study with researchers of international calibre on archaeological projects spanning the globe.

This course is available through clearing

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BA Archaeology / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

Jason Walton

History always interested me, but I found reading books about it a bit dull.

When I realised you could touch, interact and discover history, I instantly fell in love with Archaeology; that alongside the excellent staff really makes this course at Manchester stand out!

Jason Walton / Archaeology undergraduate

Combining insights from humanities and science, our BA Archaeology course offers you the opportunity to explore humanity from its earliest origins right up to the impact of industrialisation and globalisation on society.

You'll consider the key challenges of modern society - from climate change to new technologies, clashes of religion, violence and warfare - by examining the long-term record of our past.

The study of people lies at the heart of our courses: from exploring how the Roman Empire used architecture as a political statement, to the origins of spirituality in Prehistoric Europe.

Yet we also use scientific techniques to examine ancient objects, human remains and landscapes. Our course content evolves in line with our new discoveries and emerging research, and you'll learn by combining academic study with hands-on discovery.

Subsidised fieldwork training will give you the opportunity to dig for four weeks, joining research teams at sites in England, Scotland, Jersey and the Mediterranean while learning about staff research in the Near East and Scandinavia.

Our students have worked on sites of global importance such as Stonehenge, Star Carr and Easter Island, discovering everything from the earliest portable Mesolithic art in Britain to a Viking boat burial in Scotland.

Special features

Experience digs in the UK and abroad

Fieldwork training is an integral part of our course in all years, and you'll be introduced to excavation techniques by experienced archaeologists.

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Study abroad

You may apply to spend one semester studying abroad during Year 2. Destination-specific specialisms such as Inuit material culture, Australian rock art, or Scandinavian hoards could shape your final year dissertation.

You'll have the opportunity to join research teams who are, for example, exploring Bronze Age settlements in Cyprus, ancient art and artefacts in Jersey or colonial sites in Australia. You will work with practiced archaeologists to make discoveries that help shape our knowledge of the world.

Explore in-depth collections on campus

Discover artefacts, architecture, ancient texts and beliefs using our well-equipped laboratories, our own departmental teaching collections and the exclusive archives and curatorial expertise of Manchester Museum .

Study an additional subject

Flexible Honours may allow you to study an additional arts, languages or cultures subject.

Teaching and learning

You will be taught by world-class researchers with archaeological specialisms in identity, landscapes, monuments, material culture and social complexity.

As an archaeology student you'll benefit from a breadth of teaching methods designed to develop your transferable skills, including:

  • tutorials;
  • seminars;
  • laboratory sessions;
  • lectures;
  • fieldwork;
  • one-to-one tutorials;
  • group exercises;
  • presentations;
  • reports;
  • original research guided by academic tutors.

Subsidised fieldwork includes one-day site visits as well as extensive periods of excavation in locations as close as Stonehenge and Orkney or as distant as Africa and the Middle East.

You'll also learn within our archaeological labs, where you'll use microscopes, digital cameras, delicate measuring equipment and portable XRF to analyse and record objects. You can access training in digital illustration and GIS packages to support this activity and loan landscape survey and geophysics equipment for fieldwork.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods include:

  • written examinations;
  • coursework essays;
  • research reports;
  • practical tests;
  • fieldwork workbooks;
  • individual projects;
  • oral presentations;
  • third year dissertation;
  • digital posters;
  • audio performances.

In addition, archaeology field training involves a variety of assessment over a range of skills and techniques.

Course content for year 1

Gain a broad based understanding of archaeological history and the methods and theories involved in the interpretation of past societies.

Discover the process of archaeological fieldwork and the principles of excavation through lab-based study, artefact handling sessions, and hands-on field trips.

Explore additional units in archaeology from both Britain and the wider world.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Discoveries and Discoverers: Sights and Sites CAHE10281 20 Mandatory
Understanding the Past: Human Stories through Science CAHE10341 20 Mandatory
Doing Archaeology 1 CAHE10502 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Mediterranean & Classical Archaeology CAHE10122 20 Optional
The Making of the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean Worlds. CAHE10131 20 Optional
The Story of Britain CAHE10142 20 Optional
Living and Dying in the Ancient World CAHE10602 20 Optional
Standing on The Shoulders of Giants: Foundations for Study in The Arts SALC10002 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Explore the emergence of archaeology from antiquarianism, and the 'big ideas' from philosophy and theory - power and ideology, phenomenology and materialism - that help analyse past societies.

Acquire the skills to frame your research questions, collect and analyse data, and present your results. Use this knowledge to develop a research topic of your own choice, which can include discoveries from your fieldwork.

Begin to explore period and thematic specialisms through a wide breadth of optional course units.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
People Behind the Patterns CAHE20082 20 Mandatory
Thinking Archaeology CAHE20111 20 Mandatory
Doing Archaeology 2 CAHE20502 20 Mandatory
The Emergence of Civilisation: Palaces, Peak Sanctuaries and Politics in Minoan Crete CAHE20221 20 Optional
Roman Women in 22 Objects CAHE20531 20 Optional
Origins and Transformations: Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Europe CAHE20561 20 Optional
The Archaeology of Ritual CAHE20992 20 Optional
Introduction to the History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt CAHE21442 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Gain an understanding of the power of the past and the importance of heritage in the modern world, addressing the issues faced by archaeologists.

Continue to develop your own expertise through a range of optional course units and complete a dissertation based on your own independent research.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology Dissertation CAHE30000 40 Mandatory
Artefacts and Interpretation CAHE30362 20 Mandatory
Why the Past Matters CAHE30501 20 Mandatory
The Emergence of Civilisation: Palaces, Peak Santuaries and Politics in Minoan Crete CAHE30221 20 Optional
Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Europe CAHE30561 20 Optional
Origins of States: The Archaeology of Urbanism in the Near East CAHE30912 20 Optional
The Archaeology of Ritual CAHE30992 20 Optional
Egypt in the Graeco-Roman Worl CAHE31401 20 Optional
The Hellenistic World: History and Archaeology CAHE34322 20 Optional

Facilities

Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum is the University's own award-winning facility, home to important prehistoric, classical and ethnographic collections, which you'll draw from in your learning.

You'll go behind-the-scenes to handle, analyse and interpret rare artefacts, including one of the finest Egyptology collections in Britain.

Our ongoing collaboration between the museum and the global work of archaeology staff offers unique opportunities for students to get involved in the design of major exhibitions.

Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery holds important archaeological textile collections, and art and sculpture on themes such as landscape as part of its broader internationally significant collections.

Archaeological laboratories

You'll learn within our archaeological labs, where you'll use microscopes, digital cameras, delicate measuring equipment and portable XRF to analyse and record objects. You can also access training in digital illustration and GIS packages to support this activity and loan landscape survey and geophysics equipment for fieldwork. Our labs are supported by a dedicated technician who can offer training and assistance.

Field survey equipment

Equipment to support your studies includes three total stations and a traverse kit, a sub metre GPS survey system, a drone and professional photography equipment. Several of our lab-based resources can also be used in the field, including our PXRF instrument, ProScope and 3D scanner.

Find out more on the facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants from the Disability Support Office. Email: disability@manchester.ac.uk