Getting your hands dirty

Study with us and you’ll be out there getting hands-on experience in no time. Develop practical skills, conduct research and analysis and make archaeological discoveries of your own. All from the very start of your course. Archaeology at Sheffield is about making a difference in the world, and this is your chance to get a head start on real work with a real impact.

Postcard 'Get your hands dirty'

students on fieldwork

The department's connections with professionals around the world and range of excavations in the UK and abroad, offers everyone the opportunity to partake in fieldwork of their choice.

OTIS, BA Classical and historical archaeology

Fieldwork and your degree

As a student with us you'll spend two weeks on our field course at the end of your first year, as part of Revealing the Past. You'll get in-depth practical experience of archaeological field work, including excavation techniques, survey, recording and analysis and interpretation of archaeological materials and deposits. In addition, you'll record and develop your skills through the Archaeology Skills Passport, endorsed by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

You'll then have the opportunity participate in another archaeological project as part of Archaeology Matters in your second year. But there’s no need to stop there!

You might choose to get more practical experience working with a commercial unit through options like Workplace Learning or the Degree with Employment Experience option. And many of our students participate on our departmental field projects during the summer. These might be close to the University or thousands of miles away. The area around Sheffield is rich in prehistoric, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and industrial archaeology, so there's no need to go far. But you might prefer to travel abroad.

Our staff work on research in the field in Italy, Turkey, South Africa, Spain, Greece, Russia and elsewhere, and you could accompany them.

Please note that participation in fieldwork which is outside of the taught curriculum modules is optional and you may incur additional costs for such as for accommodation, travel and personal expenses if you choose to participate.

A student at Thornton Abbey

A clipboard

A test pit

Why fieldwork matters

Fieldwork is the most important way archaeologists retrieve data. The experience of fieldwork you'll get at Sheffield is a vital way of developing the skills needed for a career in archaeology.

It's also a great way of building the communication and team working skills demanded by all kinds of employers. By doing fieldwork together you'll develop a great team spirit with your lecturers and coursemates – making your studies will be more enjoyable and effective in the process.

Learning at Knossos webpage

I really enjoy the fieldwork in the summer because it's something tangible that you can really get to grips with, putting into practice what you learn.

FRANCESCA, BA Archaeology

a student finding a piece of pottery

Our current projects

Your fieldwork could take you out to work on one of the department's current projects. These include:

Castleton and Hope

Surveying at Castleton

Currently the home of our first year field course, this project has been primarily focussed on defining the location of, and exploring the character and development of, a Medieval Leper Hospital (Hospital of Saint Mary in the Peak). More recently, the project’s scope has extended to also look at the development of the Medieval villages of Hope and Castleton.

Thornton Abbey

A long-term survey and excavation project in Lincolnshire working within the area of the great Augustinian abbey, focusing on features from both the late medieval and post-medieval periods.

A student at Thornton Abbey


Digging at Brodsworth

The Brodsworth estate lies on the limestone ridge that runs across South Yorkshire between Conisborough and Doncaster. At the centre, Brodsworth Hall is a fine mid 19th-century country house now in the care of English Heritage.


Located at the site of a Roman imperial villa in southern Italy, this project focusses on the central village, or vicus, as the economic core of the estate.

Students at Vagnari