BA Archaeology and History
Explore the richness and variety of past human experience, and discover its influence on our present and future, with our BA Archaeology and History degree.
Choose the University of Reading
- Top 100 in the world for Archaeology (QS World Rankings by Subject 2023)
- Ranked 1st in the UK for environmental and ethical performance (People and Planet University League 2023/24)
- In 2023, the University of Reading was the first ever winner of the Times Higher Education (THE) award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Leadership
- 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 REF 2021)
- 100% of our research in History is of international standing (Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), combining 4*, 3* and 2* submissions – History)
- Top 3 in the UK for teaching quality in Archaeology (The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024)
- 100% of students in the Department of Archaeology and 100% of students studying BA History said our teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things (National Student Survey, 2023)
- 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).
As a Joint Honours student, your programme is shared with the Department of History, which is known for its educational excellence and research innovation. Teaching staff are experts in a broad range of fields. Their expertise covers political, cultural, social, gender and transnational history, the history of ideas and beliefs, and the history of science and health.
Explore the past through archaeological and historical techniques
Our BA Archaeology and History degree combines the study of history – and its political, social and cultural contexts – with invaluable archaeological training.
In your archaeological studies, you’ll study material remains to uncover our human past, from as early as the first hominins millions of years ago. Your historical studies will span the last thousand years, with a broad geographical spread that covers Britain and Europe, Africa, America, the Middle East and South Asia. You’ll examine historical records and explore visual and material culture through texts, paintings, photographs, films and oral sources.
Studying these complementary subjects together will provide a richer, more holistic understanding of our shared human past. You’ll balance your critical evaluation of historical sources against the physical evidence of lived experience provided by archaeological finds.
We’ll support you to develop a broad range of subject-specific and transferable skills that span the humanities and sciences. Your learning can include:
- the investigation of artefacts, monuments and archival collections
- the development of human societies from six million years ago to the present day
- British, European and global history
- the role of warfare and militarism in different regions and time periods
- experiences of social change through studies of migration, gender and religion.
Placements and Study Abroad
A supportive, collaborative learning environment
We are international, research-intensive departments with expertise that spans the sciences, humanities and social sciences. You’ll learn about global issues, enhanced by the latest developments and thinking within archaeology and history.
- Professor Hella Eckardt is demonstrating Britain’s long history of diversity
- Prof Aleks Pluskowski is using environmental archaeology to provide a different perspective on the impact of religious change
- Dr Richard Blakemore is using his research on sailors and pirates to challenge students’ thinking in the classroom
- Dr Rohan Deb Roy explores the hidden voices we can find in history – from marginalised communities to animals.
You'll also have the chance to join RUined, a student-run society for those passionate about archaeology. RUined is a great way to meet people across Reading, build your network, and participate in events like club nights, quizzes, alcohol-free socials, and the annual summer and winter formals.
- Read about Marcie Weeks’s experience as a BA Archaeology and History student.
Field School and field trips
Put your learning into practice through our Archaeology Field School, which is optional on this degree. You’ll gain hands-on experience in all aspects of an archaeological excavation, including:
- finds processing
- studying ancient plant and animal remains.
Beyond the Field School, many of our modules include field trips to sites and museums around England. You will be encouraged to get involved with research excavations in the UK and Europe, spanning prehistoric monuments, Roman cities, and medieval castles.
The Department of History offers a study trip module, taking an in-depth look at the history and culture of a city in the UK or abroad. Previous locations have included Berlin, Rome and Paris.
Flexible study options
At Reading, you can enhance your knowledge and understanding of the past through varied learning opportunities, such as:
- artefact-focused modules
- archives and collection-focused modules
- language study.
Skills for life
Throughout your degree, you’ll gain a broad range of skills and experiences that are highly regarded by employers, including:
- the ability to analyse and understand complex information
- the ability to research and present findings in a coherent manner
- empathy with others from diverse cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.
All our degree programmes include professional development training and further opportunities, supported by the University's dedicated Careers Service.