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BA Archaeology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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

Archaeology offers you the opportunity to explore humanity, from its prehistoric origins to industrialisation and globalisation, and to consider key challenges of modern society - from climate change and new technologies, to gender identities, cultural interactions and conflict. Through scientific analysis and interpretation of artefacts, ancient texts and inscriptions, architecture, human remains and landscapes, our courses have the study of past people at their heart, ranging geographically from Egypt and the Near East, across the Mediterranean, to the British Isles and North-West Europe.

As part of the department of Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology (CAHAE), the largest of its kind in the country, you will have the unparalleled opportunity to draw upon staff expertise in material culture analysis, ancient history, language and literature, social complexity, ancient writing, belief systems and funerary rites, monuments and landscapes, within your study.

You'll explore artefacts, architecture and ancient texts, handling our object collections within our well-equipped laboratories, getting exclusive access to the archives and expertise of the Manchester Museum, and going on fieldtrips to awe-inspiring sites. Fieldwork training is integral to all of our courses: you will have the opportunity to dig for at least four weeks, joining expert research teams across the UK, Mediterranean and the Near East, who will train you in excavation techniques.

Our students have worked on sites of global importance including Stonehenge, Star Carr and Easter Island, and have uncovered everything from the earliest British Mesolithic art to a Viking boat burial in Scotland. Use our dedicated collections, laboratories, study spaces and libraries to pursue your own interests, supported by our award-winning teachers and world-leading researchers, and guest speakers from across the globe, to become part of our interdisciplinary community that is passionate about understanding the ancient world.

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. You'll have the opportunity to join research teams and help make discoveries that shape our knowledge of the world.

Destination-specific specialisms such as Inuit material culture, Australian rock art, or Scandinavian hoards could shape your final year dissertation.

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 .

Outreach and engagement

You'll have the opportunity to share your passion for archaeology through community and public engagement projects.

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 be trained to use a wide range of equipment 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 CAHE10282 20 Mandatory
Understanding the Past: Human Stories through Science CAHE10341 20 Mandatory
Doing Archaeology 1 CAHE10501 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Mediterranean & Classical Archaeology CAHE10122 20 Optional
The Making of the Mediterranean CAHE10132 20 Optional
The Story of Britain CAHE10141 20 Optional
Standing on The Shoulders of Giants: Foundations for Study in The Arts SALC10002 20 Optional
Living and Dying in the Ancient World SALC10602 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 which cover huge expanses of time and space. From the emergence of Homo sapiens in Europe, the prehistoric origins of farming and monuments in the Neolithic and the beginnings of civilizations in the Near East, to the classical Mediterranean world, Ancient Egypt, or the mortuary archaeology through time, our specialist courses offer an amazing opportunity to pursue the topics that inspire you.

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
Thinking Archaeology CAHE20111 20 Mandatory
Doing Archaeology 2 CAHE20502 20 Mandatory
Heritage and Reception CAHE24601 20 Mandatory
Data Analysis and Reasoning in a Digital World SALC20082 20 Mandatory
The World of Late Antiquity: Europe and the Med from the Severan Dynasty to the Rise of Islam CAHE20022 20 Optional
Through Cicero's Eyes CAHE20032 20 Optional
The Conquering Hero: The Life, Times and Legacy of Alexander The Great CAHE20041 20 Optional
The Roman Empire 31BC - AD235: Rome's Golden Age CAHE20051 20 Optional
Politics and Society in Classical Greece CAHE20062 20 Optional
Neolithic Britain CAHE20131 20 Optional
Survive and Thrive: Parties, Politics and Poetry in Horace CAHE20251 20 Optional
Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds (6th c. BCE - 3 c. CE) CAHE20441 20 Optional
Roman Women in 22 Objects CAHE20532 20 Optional
Dealing with the Dead: The Archaeology of Death and Burial CAHE20722 20 Optional
Origins of States: The Archaeology of Urbanism in the Near East CAHE20911 20 Optional
Greek Epic Poetry CAHE21041 20 Optional
Introduction to the History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt CAHE21441 20 Optional
Nature, Poetry, and Art: Ancient Pastoral and its Reception CAHE24201 20 Optional
Finding Happiness in the Ancient World CAHE24402 20 Optional
Slavery in the Ancient Greek World CAHE24501 20 Optional
Ancient Greek Mythology CAHE24702 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 21 course units for year 2

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. You also will enhance your skills in artefact analysis, learning methods of recording and interpretation of materials that will let you understand the past in greater depth.

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
Heritage and Reception CAHE34601 20 Mandatory
The World of Late Antiquity: Europe and the Med from the Severan Dynasty to the Rise of Islam CAHE30022 20 Optional
Through Cicero's Eyes CAHE30032 20 Optional
Neolithic Britain CAHE30131 20 Optional
Survive and Thrive: Parties, Politics and Poetry in Horace CAHE30251 20 Optional
Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds (6th c. BCE - 3 c. CE) CAHE30441 20 Optional
Dealing with the Dead: The Archaeology of Death and Burial CAHE30722 20 Optional
The Roman Army and the North-West Frontiers CAHE30882 20 Optional
Origins of States: The Archaeology of Urbanism in the Near East CAHE30911 20 Optional
Greek Epic Poetry CAHE31041 20 Optional
Egypt in the Graeco-Roman Worl CAHE31401 20 Optional
Nature, Poetry, and Art: Ancient Pastoral and its Reception CAHE34201 20 Optional
Finding Happiness in the Ancient World CAHE34402 20 Optional
Slavery in the Ancient Greek World CAHE34501 20 Optional
Ancient Greek Mythology CAHE34702 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 17 course units for year 3

Facilities

Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum is home to important prehistoric, classical and ethnographic collections. 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.

The Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology

The Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology is home to a film library with some 1,500 titles, from classic ethnographic film to contemporary documentary and world cinema.

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