BA Archaeology and Anthropology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Archaeology is the study of past peoples through the remains they leave behind - artefacts, architecture and landscapes, whilst anthropology provides us with the frameworks to understand living societies. The two disciplines complement each other well, bridging the study of past and present humanity.

You will develop an understanding of archaeological and anthropological theory, method and interpretation while learning the critical skills needed to explore the regional and global diversity of the material record and social and cultural life, using comparative, cross-cultural and cross-temporal methods.

In Anthropology, you will be particularly encouraged to use your knowledge of cultural diversity to challenge established assumptions embedded within the cultural systems, as well as within 'western' knowledge, practices and theoretical paradigms.

In Archaeology, you will develop a critical understanding of the place and importance of archaeology and material heritage in contemporary society, including the issues and controversies that they provoke.

Most importantly, this course trains you to think both anthropologically and archaeologically.

Special features

Experience digs in the UK and abroad

Fieldwork training is an integral part of our course throughout the degree, 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 could support research on Inuit material culture, Australian rock art, or Scandinavian hoards enriching 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 also have the opportunity to share your passion for archaeology through community and public engagement projects.

Teaching and learning

You'll benefit from a breadth of teaching methods designed to develop your transferable skills, including:
  • tutorials;
  • seminars;
  • laboratory sessions;
  • lectures;
  • fieldwork;
  • group exercises;
  • presentations;
  • reports;
  • one to one academic support sessions;
  • original research guided by academic tutors.

Subsidised fieldwork includes one-day site visits as well as extensive periods of excavation in a wide range of locations, such as Herefordshire, Yorkshire and Scotland.

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, while you can make use of landscape survey and geophysics equipment for fieldwork.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods may 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 core skills in the interpretation of past societies, the principles and methods of Archaeology and some of the world's most celebrated discoveries, as well as anthropological theories surrounding culture and society, taught through a wide range of case studies.

Explore archaeological fieldwork and the principles of excavation, with two subsidised weeks on a project of your choice. Get to know staff in both departments and develop an interest in specific periods or themes.

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
Doing Archaeology 1 CAHE10501 20 Mandatory
Power and Culture: Inequality in Everyday Life SOAN10301 10 Mandatory
Cultural Diversity in Global Perspective SOAN10312 10 Mandatory
Key Ideas in Social Anthropology SOAN10321 10 Mandatory
Intro to Ethnographic Reading SOAN10322 10 Mandatory
Introduction to the History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt CAHE10651 20 Optional
Climate change and societal response: Lessons from the past SALC11011 20 Optional
Regional Studies of Culture: 1 SOAN10331 20 Optional
Regional Studies of Culture: 2 SOAN10352 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Study the 'big ideas' and concepts which help us analyse past societies while deepening your understanding of how objects and materials shape human worlds.

Acquire the skills to frame your Archaeological and Anthropological research questions, collect and analyse data, and present your results.

Begin to explore period and thematic specialisms through a wide breadth of optional course units within Archaeology and Anthropology. From the beginnings of civilisations in the Near East, or mortuary archaeology through time, to the anthropology of religion, medicine,kinship and gender, our specialist courses offer an amazing opportunity to pursue the topics that inspire you.

Another two weeks of subsidised fieldwork give you the opportunity to travel to a project in the UK or abroad.

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 CAHE20112 20 Mandatory
Doing Archaeology 2 CAHE20501 20 Mandatory
Materiality and Representation SOAN20852 20 Mandatory
Roman Women in 22 Objects CAHE20532 20 Optional
Data Literacy in a Digital World SALC20081 20 Optional
Anthropology of Kinship, Gender and Sex SOAN20802 20 Optional
Anthropology of Religion SOAN20812 20 Optional
Political and Economic Anthropology SOAN20821 20 Optional
The Ethnographer's Craft SOAN20841 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Continue to develop your own expertise through a range of optional course units and complete a dissertation based on your own independent research which can be based in either department, or combine ideas and expertise from both.

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
Dissertation in Archaeology and Anthropology SOAN40000 40 Mandatory
Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology Dissertation CAHE30000 40 Optional
The Roman Army and the North-West Frontiers CAHE30882 20 Optional
Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism SOAN30111 20 Optional
The Anthropology of Health and Wellbeing SOAN30251 20 Optional
Anthropology of Human Learning: Childhood and Education SOAN30372 20 Optional
Anthropology of Displacement and Migration SOAN30452 20 Optional
Dissertation A SOAN30610 40 Optional
Screening Culture SOAN30791 20 Optional
Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory SOAN30811 20 Optional


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 is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: