BSc Archaeological Science
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Develop expertise in the scientific and forensic aspects of archaeology with our accredited BSc Archaeological Science degree.
Exciting career opportunities
Archaeology is more than studying the past: it's a discipline that actively prepares you for the job market. You'll develop an impressive range of practical and academic skills, which are highly sought in the archaeology and heritage sectors. With its focus on the scientific aspects of archaeology, your degree is also suited to a career in forensic science.
More than 40 major infrastructure projects are planned across the UK over the next 17 years, and archaeologists are required for exploratory excavations and analysis before construction begins. A 2016 report from Historic England found that England's 3,000-person commercial archaeology workforce will need to grow by 25% over the next six years to meet demand.
Many graduates use their breadth and depth of expertise across the sciences and humanities to enter careers such as teaching, policing, industry and commerce.
Train as an archaeological scientist at the University of Reading
- Accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.
- Ranked in the top 10 UK universities for Archaeology (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2021).
- Scores consistently between 90-100% for overall student satisfaction (National Student Satisfaction, 2010-2021).
- 97% of our research is judged to be of international standing (Research Excellence Framework 2014).
- 89% of leavers are in work and/or study 15 months after the end of their course (Graduate Outcomes Survey, 2018/19; First Degree responders from Archaeology).
You'll learn about past societies, diets and diseases from the study of bones, and discover how landscapes and climates have changed over time.
At Reading, your studies will encompass a diverse range of topics:
- the study of human bones, including osteology and palaeopathology
- environmental archaeology, including botany and zoology
- geoarchaeology, including the investigation of soils and sediments
- forensic archaeology and crime scene analysis
- Quaternary science.
This diverse approach enables you to develop a broad range of subject-specific and transferable skills that span the humanities and sciences. Optional modules allow you to shape your learning further, and focus on the topics and periods that interest you the most.
The course offers the opportunity to put this learning into practice, through excavations, surveying or GIS (geographic information systems), and to make a direct contribution to new subject knowledge.
You'll also have access to our outstanding teaching collections and laboratory and microscopy facilities, providing dedicated spaces for the analysis of:
- human and animal remains
- plant remains
- soils and sediments.
A supportive, collaborative learning environment
Join the University of Reading's Department of Archaeology, a community of passionate and inquisitive staff, students and alumni.
We're an international, research-intensive department whose expertise spans the humanities and social sciences. You'll learn about global issues, enhanced by the latest developments and thinking within social and scientific archaeology.
- Read about Professor Mary Lewis, whose pioneering research has led to a new method for studying puberty and understanding human maturation.
- Hear from our student, Manny Flores, who chose BSc Archaeological Science for its greater focus on the scientific and forensic aspects of archaeology.
You'll also have the chance to join RUined, a student-run society for students passionate about archaeology. RUined is a great way to meet people across Reading, build your network and participate in events like club nights, quizzes, and the annual summer and winter formals.
One of the highlights of our archaeology degrees is the Archaeology Field School – an opportunity to put your learning into practice and develop specialist skills.
Gain hands-on experience in all aspects of an archaeological excavation, including:
- finds processing
- studying ancient plant and animal remains.
Beyond the Field School, you'll be encouraged to get involved with excavations in the UK and Europe, spanning prehistoric monuments, Roman cities, and medieval castles.
Archaeology is not just about digging – it's also an academic subject that will teach you valuable theoretical and practical skills. You'll have the opportunity to use specialist equipment and GIS, to work in laboratories, and to access the University’s three on-campus museums.
- Find out why Marcie Weeks, a student from the Department of Archaeology, describes the Field School as a "truly amazing experience."
Enhance your employability and build your network by applying for a placement.
You could undertake a research placement in the Department of Archaeology or in a University museum, build your portfolio of experience with a summer placement in an external organisation, or take a full year of professional experience between your second and final years of study.
Opportunities are available working across the archaeological, heritage, planning and museum sectors, including: research institutions, government organisations, local planning authorities, archaeological consultancies, field units, specialists and archivists.
Previous placement students have:
- processed remains
- conducted collections-based research
- drawn archaeological finds
- investigated records of past climate and environmental change.
Current and recent placement settings include:
- QUEST, the University of Reading’s scientific consultancy company
- British Museum, via the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP)
- Border Archaeology.
You could also gain field-work experience through external organisations and placement providers, such as Grampus Heritage and Training Ltd – where students have previously worked in locations such as Germany and Cyprus – and Archaeological Research Services Ltd.
We have a dedicated member of staff who will provide you with advice and support in your search for a placement.
The Department of Archaeology has active links with universities in Europe and the USA, including Aarhus University (Denmark), the University of Florida (USA), the University of Malta, and the University of Torun (Poland).
All classes are conducted in English and bursaries are available to help with travel and accommodation costs.
For more information, visit the Study Abroad website.