An archaeology student in the Peak District.

Archaeology BA

Department of Archaeology

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You are viewing this course for 2022-23 entry. 2021-22 entry is also available.

Key details

Course description

Our BA gives you an excellent foundation in all aspects of world archaeology. Choose from a range of specialist modules to suit your interests. Modules cover a variety of time periods, geographic locations and methodological approaches. Topics range from human evolution to experimental archaeology.

Your degree combines hands-on learning with small-group teaching and lectures. You'll work in both the field and the laboratory, developing critical skills in diverse archaeological methods. You'll also have the chance to work alongside world-class researchers on a range of archaeological materials.

Right from the start, you'll get in-depth archaeological experience. You'll do a minimum of six weeks either in the field, the laboratory or the workplace. We have a dedicated field school for excavation training and you'll have the chance to get involved in staff research projects, lab work and excavations.

These experiences, combined with your key archaeological skills, will prepare you for a professional career in archaeology or the heritage sector.

We have cutting-edge laboratory facilities and extensive archaeological research collections, including human, animal and plant remains. We also have modern experimental equipment, including a 3D portable structured light scanner. Optional science-based modules give you the chance to work with organic and inorganic materials and develop your laboratory skills.

This course is also available to study part-time.

Two students discussing bones in lab


The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

Title: Archaeology BA course structure
UCAS code: F400
Years: 2021

The first year gives you a global perspective on human origins and world civilisations. You'll be introduced to archaeological research process and our field school will give you a solid foundation in the methods of archaeological excavation.

Core modules:

Archaeology of Britain: from Prehistory to the Industrial Revolution

The Archaeology of Britain: from Prehistory to the Industrial Revolution provides an introduction to the archaeology of the British Isles from the Palaeolithic, through to the Roman occupation and beyond the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. Through a combination of lectures and fieldtrips, you will discover the wealth of archaeological evidence found beneath our feet; from significant excavations and sites to artefacts and the material record. You will explore how this evidence reveals changes that took place over time which helped shaped the people, cultures and landscapes of the Britain Isles.

20 credits
Human origins, migrations and identities

This module uses the theme of migration as a framework to evaluate the responses of ancestral human populations to environmental and other challenges to society. You will complete a survey of the archaeological record from 3 million years before present to the first millennium AD, and through lectures and practical sessions gain an understanding of the archaeological use of human and animal remains and material culture to reconstruct the mobility of people, animals and objects. In addition, you will consider different perspectives about the current relevance of archaeological approaches to population dispersal in understanding past, present and future societal challenges.

20 credits
Revealing the Past

'Revealing the Past' introduces the archaeological research process and the environment within which British archaeology functions. This module enables students to develop fundamental field skills. Students will gain an understanding of the research process throughout the module; both by recovering evidence in the field using basic survey and excavation methods and by being introduced to the process of dealing with material and data recovered during fieldwork. The course will build towards a two-week field course which will take place at the end of the teaching period. The majority of the contact hours are practical sessions in the field and laboratory, where students will work collaboratively on an original programme of archaeological research. Lectures provide additional guidance on the methods employed and the historical context for the research. The development of transferable skills will be enhanced by collaboration with University of Sheffield Enterprise.

20 credits
Towards modernity: anthropology, archaeology & colonialism

This module explores how anthropology and archaeology developed in early modern Europe, and how this development was shaped by, and mirrored, the cultural and political history of Europe, through the Renaissance, Reformation and especially European colonial expansion into other continents. Anthropology and archaeology developed to explore European encounters with the 'other' cultures of distant places and times. These disciplines have widely served to legitimise European exploitation of other continents and to promote particular groups and causes within Europe, but latterly have also critiqued such trends.

20 credits
Professional Experience and Development

During the Professional Experience and Development module, students will complete 20 days’ work experience (spread across Levels 1-3), which they will organise independently, supported by the departmental fieldwork officer and their personal tutors. The work experience will take place with organisations and projects in the archaeological, heritage or related sectors. Students will attend week-long Careers and Professional Development (CPD) courses during Levels 1-3. The CPD course will provide workshops and networking events designed to support students’ professional development. The module will be assessed as pass/fail based on satisfactory attendance and professional conduct during the work placement, and demonstrating progress in basic competencies in their Skills Passport.

Optional modules:

Classical World and Its Legacy

Greco-Roman classical civilisation (particularly the 'high culture' of art, architecture, literature and political institutions) has long been seen as the inspiration for, and yardstick against which to judge, modern European culture. The rich and varied evidence of modern archaeology is used to explore how this high culture was supported and experienced by ordinary people. The module will consider the nature of Early Iron Age Greece and its Bronze Age background, the nature of its colonies in the Mediterranean, and the development of the Athenian Empire. The exploration of Italy will begin with the Iron Age peoples of the Italian peninsula, following on to trace the rise of Rome and her empire in the East and the West. The late Roman Empire will be examined with reference to the rise of Christianity and other eastern religions, and this will be traced through to the Early Medieval Period in Europe. The role of Islam in the formation of Europe, and the dissemination of Islamic culture, will be considered. The module will conclude by exploring the place of the Classical world in both modern Europe and the New World.

20 credits
World Civilisations

The popular image of archaeology is captured by the fictional Indiana Jones in his search for the lost secrets of ancient civilisations. This module explores some of the most famous early civilisations, including Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt in the Old World, and the Inca in the New World. Similarities and differences in the development of these civilisations are evaluated, as are the contentious roles of colonisation, diffusion, trade and world systems. The classic civilisations are placed in a wider context by looking at human cultures as diverse as the Vikings, Zimbabwe, and the Plains Indians. In conclusion, the module discusses changing understandings of what it may have meant to be 'civilised'. Since the emergence of anatomically modern man and the inception of farming and sedentism, human societies have undergone radical changes, including the development of urbanism, advanced craft specialisation and long-distance trade, writing and bureaucracy social stratification and warfare, statehood and empire, colonialism and globalisation. This module explores the nature, causes and consequences of these changes.

20 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Learning and assessment


Your degree combines hands-on learning with small-group teaching and lectures. You'll work in both the field and the laboratory, with practical experience (including fieldwork) forming an integral part of this course.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

Our staff are our staff are engaged in cutting-edge research that puts them at the forefront of archaeological advances. They're also passionate, dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to ensure their students are inspired.

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:

A Levels + additional qualifications | BBB + B in the EPQ BBB + B in the EPQ

International Baccalaureate | 33 32

BTEC | DDD in a relevant subject DDM in a relevant subject

Scottish Highers | AAABB AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AB B + BB

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 credits at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit 60 credits overall in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 24 credits at Distinction and 21 credits at Merit

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Department of Archaeology

An archaeology postgraduate student uses a microscope.

The Department of Archaeology at Sheffield has a reputation for world-leading research and teaching in archaeology. We're among the top 50 archaeology departments in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020).

You'll be taught by experts in their field who are at the forefront of their research. Our research-led teaching draws directly on the work of our inspirational academics who are experts in the specialist fields of bioarchaeology, medieval archaeology, cultural materials, funerary archaeology, Mediterranean archaeology and landscape archaeology.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to teaching, bringing science, the humanities and other related areas to your studies. Our multidisciplinary teaching helps you develop a strong set of skills. Our graduates are articulate, analytical and creative. They are also adaptable, curious and culturally aware. We have alumni working all over the world in a diverse range of fields, including archiving, archaeology, teaching, museums, charities, publishing, and national and local government.

Our staff and students play an important role in the life of the city through projects and partnerships with heritage groups, commercial archaeologists and heritage providers. You'll share your understanding with others, and by doing this you'll help local communities make sense of their origins, and get a sense of their place in the wider world.

The Department of Archaeology is based in the Ella Armitage Building, named after the influential Norman historian and archaeologist (1841-1931). The Ella Armitage Building is home to our cutting-edge labortiy facilities and is situated at the heart of the university campus, close to the Diamond and the Information Commons.


Our cutting-edge laboratory facilities, purpose-built in 2017, house extensive bioarchaeological research collections and modern experimental equipment.

Department of Archaeology

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017

Department of Archaeology

Top 10 in the UK for student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2020

29th in the world for the study of archaeology

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020

Student profiles

Graduate careers

Department of Archaeology

The archaeology workforce in the UK needs to grow by 25 per cent over the next five years and by 64 per cent by 2033 to meet the demands of infrastructure projects. Sheffield graduates are highly skilled and equipped to join this growing industry.

We talk to employers to make sure you develop the qualities they're looking for. Our close links with community heritage groups, commercial archaeologists and heritage providers give you direct access to research opportunities, work placement experience and valuable careers advice.

Your analytical, creative, communication and teamwork skills will open doors to a range of careers within and beyond archaeology.

Approximately 40 per cent of our graduates go on to work in archaeology or the heritage sector. Many graduates work in commercial units, national and local government, the charitable sector and university departments. Some choose to study for a postgraduate degree.

Others have gone into areas such as journalism, teaching, healthcare, law, accountancy and the media.

Practical experience

Practical experience, including fieldwork, is an integral part of this course. We'll train you in the techniques you need, such as archaeological survey and excavation, and laboratory analysis. You'll be engaged in the archaeological research process from the start, gaining new knowledge and making discoveries about the human past.

On your BA Archaeology degree you'll learn:

  • excavation techniques
  • how to carry out geophysical surveying
  • how a field project is organised
  • how to analyse and interpret material evidence and see how different specialists work together.

You'll do a minimum of six weeks either in the field, the laboratory or the workplace. We also have an optional workplace learning module, which gives you the chance to gain valuable practical experience in a professional working environment. Or you can spend a year working in the profession as part of the University's Degree with Employment Experience.

All the practical experience you gain is recorded in your Archaeology Skills Passport, which is endorsed by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

There are many other ways to enhance your learning and experience. For example, you could get involved in staff research projects, lab work and excavations. Many of our students also coordinate local volunteering projects in schools or heritage and community groups.

Fees and funding


Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

Apply for this course

Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:

The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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