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Develop your communication, presentation, teamwork and problem-solving skills through our varied teaching methods, which include lectures, practicals, seminars and fieldwork.

You'll develop an impressive range of practical and academic skills that prepare you for the job market, whether you want to move into the archaeology or heritage sectors or enter a wide range of other industries and careers.

How you'll learn

Archaeology is a discipline that seamlessly crosses the humanities, social sciences and the natural sciences. Your studies will be complemented by small-group teaching, giving you the opportunity for intensive debate and discussion, as well as hands-on practical and laboratory sessions where you'll work with a diverse range of archaeological materials.

The University of Reading scored 2nd best for teaching quality in Archaeology (The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024)

Hands-on learning

Handling and learning about material remains underpins all archaeological enquiry, so you'll gain hands-on experience examining remains from our excellent teaching collections. These include:

  • artefacts from various archaeological periods
  • sediments and biological materials (for example, plant pollen)
  • 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
  • a large range of animal species.

You will also have the opportunity to work in our five dedicated suites of laboratories in Archaeology, as well as the University's central Chemical Analysis Facility.

Critical thinking

You will be encouraged to debate ideas and think critically as you examine and expand shared knowledge. You'll develop the language and skills to challenge concepts and theories, with the flexibility to study your interests in depth.

Our research expertise feeds directly into the student experience, which means you'll engage with cutting-edge concepts of global interest. You'll be part of a supportive and collaborative international community of students, staff and alumni, and we'll assist you throughout your studies to tackle any challenges you may encounter as you shape your developing interests. 

In the National Student Survey 2023, 96% of our students said that their course is intellectually stimulating very often or fairly often (96.3% of respondents studying in the Department of Archaeology).  

"The nature of science is that you're constantly improving and revising what you thought you knew, and I have a real passion for explaining scientific principles to non-scientists. I try to dispel the mystery, so that people know what the advantages and drawbacks of each method are." 

Dr Gundula Müldner, Associate Professor


Fieldwork

Fieldwork is fundamental to archaeology – through it you gain information about the past and develop the practical skills that bring your studies to life.

Your fieldwork may include:

  • excavation
  • surveying
  • GIS (geographic information systems) mapping
  • planning
  • finds processing
  • meeting the public and explaining the site to them.

You'll have the opportunity to develop these skills at the end of your first year at the Department's dedicated field school. The site of the field school changes over the years, but the excellent training remains the same. Previously, field schools have taken place at Roman Silchester, medieval Dunyvaig and a 19th century farmstead on Islay, and prehistoric sites in the Vale of Pewsey. Work now focuses on  the medieval abbey site at Cookham, on the River Thames.

"Not only is the field school a hugely fun few weeks, but you learn so much about practical archaeology including excavation, geophysics, finds and visitors among many other things. It provides you with skills to discuss on your CV that you cannot get anywhere else, and can really help you narrow down what aspects of archaeology are your favourite."

Marcie Weeks, BA Archaeology and History

Read Marcie's story

You will be encouraged 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.

"Students were extensively involved in my fieldwork in Eastern Europe. Undergraduates and postgraduates joined our international team to excavate castles associated with the Baltic Crusades, but also contributed at all levels of the research programme, from geophysics and landscape surveys to lab work and data analysis. Students have completed dissertations on aspects of the project that will directly contribute to our research, and others have benefited from placements aimed at enhancing their learning experience abroad."

Professor Aleks Pluskowski

Find out more about our field school


Dissertation

You'll undertake an original research project (your dissertation) in your final year.

Your dissertation allows you to investigate a question or issue central to archaeology and heritage that interests you.  It is an excellent opportunity to develop your independent research skills, including working with texts and data sets, recording and analysing archaeological artefacts, or analysis of larger patterns in the archaeological record. 

Joint-honours students can choose which of their disciplines they want to focus on for their dissertation, and BA Museum Studies and Archaeology students will work towards a public exhibition in their final year.

Study in our museums

With three on-campus museums, you can learn from our experts within an accredited museum service.

In our Museum Studies modules, you'll have the opportunity to experience real-world activities such as collections-based research, assisting with digital projects, contributing to major public events, helping install temporary displays, communicating via social media, and assisting with formal school sessions.


Supporting students with neurodiverse conditions

The Department of Archaeology has undertaken a project to enhance teaching support for students with dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions.

Along with the University’s Disability Advisory Service, we conducted a series of focus groups and surveys to evaluate the existing practice - we considered study skills sessions, coursework feedback, and the support embedded in our academic tutorial system.

Following our investigations, we are implementing a series of short- and longer-term measures that will improve the support offered to our neurodiverse students, with wider benefits for all our students. These include: 

  • Embedding live links to Study Skills tutorials and resources in coursework feedback
  • Initiating conversations between new students and academic tutors to promote self-reflection on academic writing
  • Establishing a working party to overhaul how we teach study skills

For further information, please contact: Professor Gabor Thomas or read more about the Disability Advisory Service

Our courses

Explore issues from the past that are critical to our shared global future, with our flexible undergraduate courses. Tailor your degree to the topics and periods in which you're most interested.

Why study with us?

Our flexible undergraduate courses offer a balance of theory and practice, providing you with an impressive range of subject-specific and transferable skills for your future career.

Life in the Department

Join a diverse community where you'll be encouraged to share your ideas and think critically. Throughout your studies, we'll help you to develop your interests and overcome any challenges you may encounter.
Athena SWAN Silver Award