On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.
AAFS Study Skills: Fundamental skills for any scientist are the ability to work with a range of field and lab data. This unit will provide you with the knowledge to perform statistical analysis, create charts, graphs & maps, and write clear and concise reports using appropriate software packages.
Ancient People & Places: You will be introduced to the key thematic studies in archaeology concerning the evolution and development of ancient humans, changing technologies and material culture, and the organisation and development of past societies. You will be introduced to a range of archaeological, fossil, genetic and ethnographic evidence and develop core skills of analysis, interpretation, and reasoning using archaeological data.
Approaches to Archaeology: This unit aims to introduce you to key aspects of studying the past through the discipline of archaeology. Attention is focused on the history and development of the discipline from the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries; the principal current epistemologies and theoretical traditions; formation processes and methods of discovering archaeological sites and features; the main classes of evidence represented by artefacts and ecofacts, their characteristics, how they are studied by archaeologists, and the information they may provide; current traditions of archaeological endeavour; and the nature of key dimensions of the past including time, space, place, and society.
Archaeological Practice: The knowledge and skills essential to the aspiring archaeologist practicing within the modern professional discipline of archaeology will be covered in this unit. It will also provide you with an understanding of the interconnectedness of data derived from field situations and that recovered from archived sources in an on-going analytical process of refinement and reinvestigation. Successful completion of the unit will enable you to understand the context of archaeological data, which will support and enhance aspects of structural, arte-factual and palaeo-environmental analysis delivered at all levels in the courses in which it lies.
Gathering Time: This is about the chronological framework that supports archaeological understanding and interpretation. You will be introduced to the concept of time, how it is measured and reckoned in current societies and how it has been understood by societies in the past. You will gain an understanding of current techniques in dating and what methods are appropriate for use with different archaeological materials.
Studying Ancient Materials: You will learn to handle a range of artefacts and other archaeological materials including ceramics, textiles, foodstuffs, glass, metals and building materials. You will be able to observe and record their characteristics and their importance to the interpretation of people and societies.
Archaeological Science: This unit will develop your understanding of how thematic archaeological research questions may be addressed through the use of archaeological scientific techniques and approaches. Knowledge of case studies will be developed to promote understanding of the potential applications of archaeological science to investigate the behaviour of past human societies.
Environmental Archaeology: Introducing you to the principles and practice of Environmental Archaeology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, the unit will provide an overview of site formation processes, the types of environmental evidence encountered in the archaeological record, and the appropriate sampling strategies used to recover them. Examples of the interpretation of environmental evidence will be provided through archaeological case studies. The final lecture will demonstrate how many of the environmental proxies used in Environmental Archaeology are transferable to forensic sciences, focusing on the specific example of palynology.
Field & Research Skills: To ensure you gain a practical understanding of the aims, strategies and methods of fieldwork, you will participate in a fieldwork training project. During this, you will carry out practical tasks such as excavating, processing finds and samples. You will work in groups to solve problems, developing team skills and professional competencies.
Post-excavation Skills: Providing you with practical hands-on post-excavation skills, you will gain an understanding of the planning, management and documentation of post-excavation studies. Practical experience will also be obtained in one of a range of post-excavation specialist skills, focusing on the formulation of a post-excavation research archive, retrieval and analysis of data derived from excavation and field survey, and the preparation of specialist reports. You will also acquire an appreciation of key concepts and methodological approaches including: post-excavation recording and use of archaeological assemblages to address archaeological research questions; analytical approaches; classification systems and typologies; depositional and taphonomic processes; and relevant technical skills.
Option units (choose two):
Becoming Human: What makes us (as humans) unique? Where did our species come from? Starting from the divergence of the human lineage from that of other apes, this unit will demonstrate how a wide variety of different lines of evidence can inform the way in which we became human. You will learn how archaeologists and anthropologists interpret the fossil and archaeological evidence to understand the ways in which our ancestors and related species lived and how this changed over time. A key focus throughout will be on the relationship between the biological and social environments for evolution, and how the interaction between them influenced the evolution not only of our distinctive biological life histories, subsistence and foraging patterns but also our social life and culture, in the form of technology, material culture, language and symbolism.
Bonobos, Bones & Bottlenecks: Lectures and lab work will introduce you to the basic principles of modern human variation, adaptation and the evolutionary forces that have influenced them. You will study the core concepts of heredity, adaptation and variation applied to humans and other primates. Attention is also given to all living primates and to the primate fossil record.
Geographic Information Systems: On completion of this unit, you will be able to select and plan GIS analysis using the appropriate software and manipulate the software for specific tasks. Emphasis is on data capture and analysis, and the presentation of data as cartographic maps.
Maritime Archaeology: This unit is focused on the development of maritime archaeological traditions and management regimes in the UK. You will be introduced to the archaeology of boats and ships from the past enabling you to understand the broad chronology of their development. The unit will be delivered through a combination of keynote lectures and seminars supported by a field-trip to a site relevant to the key elements (e.g. the Mary Rose, Chatham Historic Dockyard or the Cutty Sark).
Rome & Barbarian Europe: In this unit you will be taught primarily by illustrated lectures. The lecture programme will be delivered in two consecutive strands comprising the ‘Golden Age’ of the Roman Empire (1st – 3rd Centuries AD) and the Later Empire with its changing cultural reference points. Field visits will be made to British sites of significance to the periods under study, laying stress upon their importance to the historic environment. The unit provides a chronological and topographical framework within which you will develop an understanding of the history, archaeological impact, key sites, monuments, belief-systems, artistic expression, political complexity, fashions and environment of the Roman Empire from the 1st Century to the 7th Century AD in its wider European, African and Asian context. The complex interrelationship between the classical world and that of, so-called ‘barbarian’ (Celtic/Germanic/Scandinavian/Slavic) people of north and Eastern Europe will, in particular, be studied from the standpoint of history, archaeology and geography. Key to the unit will be the analysis and understanding of and cultural diversification and change.
Societies of Prehistoric Europe: Keynote lectures are supported by discussion sessions to provide you with an introduction to the study of early farming societies in Temperate Europe and the northern Mediterranean (c.6000-800 BC). They will bring together evidence of settlement patterns; subsistence economies; the production, use and trade of artefacts; ritual and burial practices; and landscape change, to provide a sound understanding of how these societies inhabited and manipulated their environment. You will be required to undertake a considerable amount of supportive research.
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.
You may choose to complete an optional 30-week minimum work placement which can be carried out anywhere in the world. The placement year offers a chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future. Alternatively you can complete a short 5 week placement and complete your course in three years.
Year 3/4 (Final year)
Archaeological Management: This unit will cover the principles and practice of conservation and management of the historic environment in the UK, examining the professional environment, legislative background, and organisational context. You will also cover the principles of business planning and project developments, including the costing and tendering procedures associated with the professional delivery of contracting and consultancy work, and consider ethical, professional and health and safety issues. Working in groups, you will perform an assessment of the archaeological or historical potential of a given site, monument, building, or area, the threats posed to it, and options available to mitigate those threats, preparing you for professional employment in archaeological and conservation organisations.
Independent Research Project: The Independent Research Project provides you with an opportunity to gain experience of research in a topic of your choice relevant to your degree and to demonstrate your ability to report that research. Such experience is considered essential for those students interested in pursuing academic and/or professional research at a higher level of responsibility and achievement.
Semester 1 (choose one):
Emergence & Extinction - Reconstructing Pliocene & Pleistocene Environments: Giving you an understanding of past and current theories surrounding the nature and effects of environmental change during the last 10 million years, various lines of evidence are considered including geomorphology, palynology, ice cores, fossil flora and fauna and genetics. The unit will include aspects of evolutionary theory and will consider theories relating both the emergence and extinction of species to wider environmental change. Consideration will also be given to differing approaches to understanding broad ecological changes and to competing hypotheses regarding both individual and mass extinctions.
Later Prehistoric Britain: By the end of this unit you will have a detailed critical understanding of the archaeology of the later Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain, broadly 1500BC-AD50, in Britain in its continental context. The unit will provide a broad knowledge of chronological and regional variations within later prehistoric Britain and also contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the development of archaeological theory.
The Science of Human Remains: Practical lab sessions will allow you to examine skeletal material of modern humans in archaeological and forensic contexts. You will examine the ways in which disease can inform health status in past societies and how disease, trauma and skeletal pathology can identify individuals in a forensic context.
Semester 2 (choose two):
Animals & Society: This unit aims to provide you with a detailed critical understanding of humans’ interactions with animals in Britain from the Palaeolithic through to the early Post-medieval period. These interactions include the exploitation of animals for meat and other products and how animals were incorporated into burial practices and other rituals.
Roman Britain: You will be provided with the opportunity to explore in detail the practical and theoretical problems associated with the study of the material culture and archaeology of a distinct geographical area. The unit seeks to provide you with a solid understanding of the importance of archaeological data in the understanding and interpretation of historical chronologies.
Sarup to Stonehenge - Neolithic & Chalcolithic of Northwest Europe: The archaeology of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, broadly 4000-2000BC, in the British Isles and the adjacent Continental coastlands from western France to southern Scandinavia is one of the most formative periods in the social and economic development of communities occupying northwest Europe, and includes both the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming cultures and the introduction of metallurgy. The unit will provide a broad and comparative knowledge of a selected chronological period for a selected geographical region and contribute to your knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of archaeology as a discipline. A field-visit will normally be made to allow the direct observation of a selection of field monuments we discuss. We expect you to visit a number of sites and museums during the course of the year, in order to broaden your overall experience of the Neolithic Period.
Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.
Scheduled learning and teaching activities
The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments.
Learning and teaching activities includes demonstrations both indoor and outdoor in excavation and survey technology, artefact handling and investigation. In your second year you get the chance to conduct fieldwork on a 4 week archaeological dig (the Durotriges Project, or Big Dig). Contact time across the different years varies, ensuring an academic basis for learning prior to practice, and a reflective understanding of the task.
Year 1 – 25% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 230 hours
- Independent learning: 970 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 20 hours
Year 2 – 35% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 419 hours
- Independent learning: 781 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 6 hours
Year 3 - 15% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities
- Learning and teaching: 189 hours
- Independent learning: 1011 hours
- Non-credit bearing learning and teaching: 6 hours
72% of the course is assessed by coursework
- Year 1: 65%
- Year 2: 83%
- Year 3: 67%
Throughout the course you will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, but you will also undertake group work and written exams.
Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.
Download the programme specification for BSc (Hons) Archaeology
Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.
All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.
At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career, therefore we now offer every new student the opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of their course. A placement year is a vital part in developing well-rounded and industry-ready graduates.
Students have attended placements with some of the leading UK archaeological organisations, and foreign placements, often via the Grampus programme, in Cyprus, Finland and Iceland. Taking your placement abroad gives you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market.
We will provide a great deal of help and support to ensure you achieve a rewarding and satisfying placement. We have strong links to outside agencies and organisations to best support you along your professional development, and dedicated placement officers to support you.
How long is my placement?
You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you must complete a minimum of 5 weeks, or 30 weeks during your third year of study.
Our students have previously worked for:
- Wessex Archaeology
- Cotswold Archaeology
- Local and regional museums.
Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?
Background and experience
For this course we are looking for students with:
- An understanding of what archaeology is
- Enthusiasm for the study of the human past
- An interest in the application of science
- Good written and oral communication skills
- Volunteer work or experience in archaeology (whilst not essential, this is a desirable attribute).
You'll have a lively interest in the human past with backgrounds that could include archaeology, history and sciences. The study and practice of archaeology involves a variety of skills, including those used in the field, in the laboratory, and based on wide reading so you should be happy learning to work in all these areas. We look for innovative thinkers who are interested in understanding the past through practical investigation.
Applicants will have strong problem-solving and communication skills, both written and oral, as archaeology involves working well as an individual and also as part of a team. We seek students with enquiring minds who are comfortable using science, technology and creative thought to apply in their studies and would encourage applicants who are interested in exploring new ideas and concepts and applying knowledge across disciplines.
We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications. You may also be invited to attend an interview. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.
Our offer making process
Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.
If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.
How we'll assess your application
We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.
If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.
Unconditional offer scheme
Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/triple Distinction in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications). What’s more we’ll recognise your achievement if you meet these grades with an Academic Excellence Scholarship from £1,500 when you arrive*.
We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. Excellent grades will become a part of applicants’ CVs and are also required for BU’s scholarships. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements. *Our scholarships are subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria, detailed on our scholarships pages.
2017 entry requirements
The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry.
The entry requirements for this course are 104 to 120 tariff points including 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma DMM.
UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.
Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies
Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.
GCSEs: A minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including a Science, Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.
We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service. It may be that we can still consider it.
Access Courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (Science) (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3, remainder at level 2 or equivalent). Any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable.
Extended Diploma: This course requires from Distinction, Merit, Merit.
Diploma: This course requires at least Distinction, Merit in addition to one A-level to acheive the overall tariff.
90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent qualifications.
Subsidiary Diploma: This course requires at least a Distinction in addition to two A-levels to achieve the overall tariff.
A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.
Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.
European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 71-75% overall.
International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 28-31 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.
Scottish Qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff.
Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.
OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma plus one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.
- Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit.
Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.
Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.
Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.
International entry requirements
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:
IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.
View further information about our English language requirements.
If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.
Academic entry requirements
You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.
Our Archaeology degrees teach you the skills you need to work in the field, as well as a host of transferable skills that you can apply to a variety of roles in other sectors. Many of our graduates go on to work for organisations related to archaeology and historical preservation, with 80% finding work or going into further study within six months of finishing their course*.
According to a recent report by Historic England, three thousand people are currently employed in commercial archaeology in England, but this will need to grow by a minimum of 25% over the next six years to meet demand.
Professional Archaeological Skills and Training (PAST) Passport scheme
PAST has been designed by our in-house commercial archaeology unit, BUARC to train students in the necessary excavation, survey and recording skills required by employers in professional field archaeology.
Your fieldwork training will start at the end of your first year on the Big Dig. You will gain new skills throughout your degree. At the end of your third year you will be offered the opportunity to work alongside our in-house consultancy and undertake a bespoke fieldwork training programme.
The PAST programme is delivered as a mix of on-site fieldwork and seminar sessions where industry professionals and academic experts will discuss their area of expertise.
You will benefit from one-to-one training in professional archaeology fieldwork techniques, including
- Excavation techniques
- Survey and Computer Aided Design (CAD) in archaeology
- Recording methodology
- Digital photography
- Health and Safety
- Project management
- Planning services & policies
Your completed training will be recorded on an Archaeology Skills Passport, which is endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists and recognised by professional employers. You will additionally receive an Archaeology Fieldwork Manual and fieldworker data cards. The scheme also covers
- Use of personal excavation equipment
- CV and job application workshops
- Careers advice
Last year’s students thought the scheme was great:
“Training for commercial archaeology. Thought provoking, fun, and an excellent learning environment. Ideal for someone just graduating and looking into commercial archaeology.”
“The classroom sessions were great and there was a real sense of a two-way dialogue between the guest lecturers and the students. Things were explained very well and made it easily understandable.”
“The staff are very knowledgeable, and happy to share their expertise. Really comprehensive and professional. Clearly lectured and demonstrated.”
Among the organisations that our graduates are working for are English Heritage, Border Archaeology, Hertfordshire County Council, National Trust, Historic Scotland, Museum of London Archaeology Services, Oxford Archaeology and Wessex Archaeology, to name a few.
The roles they have taken on include:
- Operations team leader
- Quality co-ordinator.
Industries worked in
- Historical preservation
- Archaeological consultancies
- Local government services.
Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.
*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.
Facilities & fieldwork
Our facilities are amongst some of the best in the UK: we are recognised by other universities as having the largest collection of human skeletal remains in our Anthropology lab. We have a separate Zooarchaeology lab containing over 500 specimens, too.
We include fieldwork on a professional archaeological excavation as part of your course. We have all the equipment you'd expect to find professionals using on a dig in our field equipment stores, such as a wide range of site-surveying applications, including GPS and Total Stations for topographic surveying, remote sensing instruments such as Magentometers, Ground Penetrating Radar and Resistivity Meters and 3D laser scanners.
Meet our staff
Dr Emma Jenkins is the leader of the INEA project, which is a long term investigation of the Neolithic in southwest Asia. This important period in human history is one of the most poorly understood. This is partly due to the problems associated with site recognition and partly because of the lack of preservation of many forms of evidence, particularly biological. As a result, many Neolithic sites are comprised of a series of structures, the function of which is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret. Emma and her team have travelled to Jordon on a number of occasions, building up a gallery of images and videos.
Dr Martin Smith is a Biological Anthropologist with a particular interest in prehistoric populations and areas of taphonomy and trauma with relevance to both forensic and archaeological remains. Some of Martin’s most enjoyable work has involved experimentation, such as feeding meat on the bone to various carnivorous animals; he most memorably came within inches of a very irritable lynx as well as a rather inquisitive tiger!
Nivien Speith is the curator of the human remains held in BU's skeletal collections. She supports students in their lab work and teaches modules in Human Osteology and Skeletal Analysis, Forensic Anthropology, Biological and Applied Anthropology, and Forensic Archaeology. She is one of our specialist consultants and is often called upon to analyse remains from archaeological excavations or unusual finds by the public.
Read more about the specialist interests of our Archaeology & Anthropology staff online, or register now to meet us!
The table below indicates any changes to the course content.
||Changes to this course
||Where the change was made
||Change of title of year 2 unit from
Environmental Archaeology and Paleoecology to Environmental Archaeology
|Course details content
Environmental Archaeology and Paleoecology