Explore the material remains of past societies – from the first hominins millions of years ago to the modern day – with our accredited BA Archaeology 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, whether you want to move into the archaeology or heritage sectors or enter a wide range of other industries and careers.
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 from the Department of Archaeology use their breadth and depth of expertise across the humanities and sciences to enter careers such as teaching, policing, industry and commerce.
Train as an archaeologist at the University of Reading
- The University of Reading is in the top 100 in the world for Archaeology (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, Archaeology. The University of Reading is ranked 51-100 in the world and is the joint 9th highest placed UK university).
- 100% of students in the Department of Archaeology said that our teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things. (National Student Survey, 2023).
- The University of Reading is ranked 1st in the UK for research quality and research outputs in Archaeology (Times Higher Education Institutions Ranked by Subject, based on its analysis of the latest REF 2021).
- Overall, 97% of graduates from Archaeology are in work or further study within 15 months of graduation (Based on our analysis of HESA data © HESA 2023, Graduate Outcomes Survey 2020/21; includes all Archaeology responders).
Over three years, you’ll learn how to investigate, interpret and present our human past.
Archaeology at Reading also allows you to put your learning into practice, through excavations, surveying or GIS (geographic information systems), and make a direct contribution to new subject knowledge.
At Reading, you’ll examine archaeological issues that are critical to our shared global future, including:
- human diets and health
- climate and environmental change
By studying human development, you’ll understand how critical issues of today have roots in the past, and how previous cultures tackled comparable problems.
We’ll support you to develop a broad range of subject-specific and transferable skills that span the humanities and sciences. Your learning will encompass:
- the investigation of artefacts recovered through excavations and standing monuments
- the rise of organised religion through to the Crusades
- handling human remains to learn about burial archaeology
- examining how ideas of gender are reflected and imposed through the material world
- how climate and environmental change has impacted lives past and present
- how stories about the past are conveyed through museums and the media.
Our wide range of optional modules allows you to shape your learning, focusing on the topics and periods that most interest you.
Pathway options with BA Archaeology
All archaeology degrees at Reading are also available as four-year courses, depending on your interests and aspirations.
Our BA Archaeology degrees are accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). Our courses were among the first courses to be recognised for providing key skills relevant to careers in the historic environment.
At Reading, you’ll be offered student membership of CIfA, giving you access to their e-learning modules, specialist professional networks and details of jobs in the profession. We also have very close links with a number of local and national museums.
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, Marcie Weeks, who describes how she knew archaeology at Reading was the right choice for her.
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, with opportunities to use specialist equipment and GIS (geographical information systems), work in laboratories, and access the University’s three on-campus museums.
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
- helped to design experimental archaeology
- investigated records of past climate and environmental change.
Current and recent placement settings include:
- British Museum, via the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP)
- Border Archaeology
- Archaeological science placement at QUEST, the University of Reading’s scientific consultancy company
- IMAGINE (Study Abroad) placements for castle excavations in Spain.
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.