How we teach you
"It is clear from the coursework, the consistency of teaching delivery, and the feedback received from students that this is an efficient and highly dedicated department that is offering its students a tremendous learning experience."
Undergraduate external examiners report, 2011
Complementing lecture-based teaching, our small group teaching offers you the opportunity for hands-on practical and laboratory sessions, working with a diverse range of archaeological materials. Our varied teaching methods (lectures, practicals, seminars, fieldwork) will also support the development of your communication, presentation, teamwork and problem-solving skills:-
"Of particular note is the thorough integration of teaching and research that comes across in many of the science-based modules (e.g. Micromorphology, Vegetation History and Palaeopathology), and, especially, in the dissertation work."
UG external examiners report, 2011
"Students are given the opportunity to engage in primary research, often on materials from major fieldwork projects. The result is the creation of very skilled and confident graduates" UG external examiners report, 2011
View Fieldwork locations in a larger map
At the end of your first year, you will gain excellent training in a wide range of fieldwork skills (including excavation, surveying, planning, and finds processing), as well as teamwork, numeracy, IT and communication skills at our Departmental field school at the Roman Town of Silchester. Part 2 and Part 3 students also have further opportunities to apply for Employability placements and Archaeological traineeships.
"Certain elements, such as the Silchester Field School, offer a 'gold standard' that is hardly matched elsewhere"
UG external examiners report, 2011
'... the Silchester Field School plays a central role in undergraduate teaching, providing engagement with a wide range of field and analytical skills, as well as developing transferable and personal skills and promoting social cohesion of the undergraduate body'
Teaching Quality Review Panel, 2006
You will also have the opportunity to work on other Departmental field projects, both in the UK and abroad, particularly during your second summer vacation. These projects cover a wide range of periods and places. Opportunities are currently available at:
- Further experience at Silchester
- Excavations at Lyminge, Kent
- Inner Hebrides Archaeological Project
- Egypt's Dakhleh Oasis (the Amheida Project)
- Latvia and Poland (The Ecology of Crusading project)
Other sites recently attended by our students include:
- Bartlow Hills Roman burial mounds (Cambridgeshire)
- Later Prehistoric Monuments of Aberdeenshire (Broomend of Crichie)
- Wadi Faynan, a Neolithic Village in southern Jordan
- Butser ancient farm
- Fishbourne Roman Palace
Hands-on material-based learning
Here at Reading we have excellent teaching collections of artefacts (stone tools, pottery, metalwork, glass and coinage from various archaeological periods), human and animal remains and other biological materials (e.g. plant pollen) and sediments, which underpin much of our practical teaching and provide you with the opportunity to handle and learn about the material remains which underpin all archaeological enquiries.
Our teaching collections include Roman and medieval pottery and glassware, Iron Age, Roman and Medieval coinage and metalwork, replica lithic (stone) artefacts from early and later prehistory, human skeletons with a wide range of traumas and diseases, and a large range of animal species and other biological evidence for past environments.
Through Reading's Centre of Excellence in the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Research Skills (CETL-AURS) Archaeology has recently developed a new Resource Room, housing our teaching collections and featuring state-of-the-art audio-visual and visualisation media to enhance our teaching with the material remains of the past.
Original Research Dissertation
All of you will undertake an original research project (the dissertation) in your final year. The dissertation allows you to investigate an archaeological problem or issue of particular interest to you, and is an excellent opportunity to develop various independent research skills, including original data gathering (e.g. the recording of a collection of archaeological artefacts) and analysis.
Each year one of our undergraduate dissertations is awarded the Best Undergraduate Dissertation award. The dissertation abstracts from the award winners in recent years are listed in the document Best undergraduate dissertations (PDF 184KB), as examples of some of the very best work which our past undergraduates have achieved at the end of their three years of study at Reading.
This award provides funding to support your dissertation research and and/or fieldwork participation. Our current and previous students have used these funds to develop and support innovative dissertation research. Read more about the FT Wainwright Award.
You will have a variety of placement opportunities within the Department and beyond. Read more on the Placements page.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to enhance your future CV and your future career prospects, develop personally and intellectually, and learn more about other cultures. It is possible for archaeology students to study abroad as part of their degree programme for 3 months during the 2nd year at Lund University, Sweden. All of our partner institutions have reputations for excellence in their teaching, and English is used for all academic work, although it is possible to receive further language tuition if desired. All credits undertaken are transferred to your Reading degree programme, therefore therefore studying abroad does not extend the length of your degree. You will also be supported by the University during your time abroad. As you will be studying in Europe it is also possible to receive an ERASMUS grant which is a contribution towards any costs incurred.
Since 2002 the Archaeology Department has occupied its very own purpose-built facilities, which include research and teaching laboratories (housing our teaching collections of artefacts, ecofacts, human remains and animal bones), specialist equipment (e.g. analytical microscopes), a PC Lab (open to all students) and student study spaces, situated close to the University Library and the other facilities of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences.