BA Archaeology with Professional Placement
Explore the material remains of past societies – from the first hominins millions of years ago to the modern day – and develop skills in the workplace with our accredited BA Archaeology with Professional Placement degree.
Choose the University of Reading
- Top 100 in the world for Archaeology (QS World Rankings by Subject 2023)
- Top 3 in the UK for teaching quality in Archaeology (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024)
- 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 students in the Department of Archaeology 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).
Explore the archaeological past through diverse periods, topics and techniques
Learn how to investigate, interpret and present our human past through the study of artefacts, sites, landscapes and cultures. Our wide range of modules allows you to shape your own learning, focusing on the topics and periods that most interest you.
At Reading, you'll examine archaeological issues that are critical to our shared global future, such as:
- diets and health
- climate and environmental change
- migration and identity.
By studying human development through the ages, you’ll understand how the 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 can include:
- 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
- how climate and environmental change have impacted lives past and present
- how stories about the past are conveyed through museums and the media
- how ideas of gender are reflected and imposed through the material world.
A professional placement allows you to apply – and increase – your academic knowledge while enhancing your employability. We encourage all our students to consider any placements that can equip them with skills to support them in their future careers.
Previous placement students have analysed samples in labs, processed human remains, worked on hominin skeletal morphology, drawn archaeological finds, conducted collections-based research, studied the ecology of the Crusades through isotope analysis and faunal remains, investigated paleoclimate records, and participated in castle excavations in Spain.
You'll undertake your placement during the third year of your degree, returning to complete your final year of study in your fourth year.
You can complete your placement with an employer in the UK or abroad, and take advantage of our connections with a range of organisations in the archaeological, heritage, planning and museum sectors, including:
- research institutions
- government organisations
- local planning authorities
- archaeological consultancies
- field units
- museums and archives.
Alternatively, you may choose to complete a placement in a non-related industry to explore different career options and develop your skills.
Recent placement employers have included:
- Oxford Archaeology
- Thames Valley Archaeological Services
- Archaeological Research Services
- Ure Museum
- Cole Museum of Zoology
- The Museum of English Rural Life
- QUEST, the University of Reading's scientific consultancy company
- Durham Blue Coat C.E. aided Junior School
- Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization
- Signals (art and education charity).
In addition to your formal professional placement, you will also be encouraged to undertake short placements with local and regional employers during your studies.
As a placement student, you are responsible for finding your own placement. We have a dedicated placements team and member of staff in Archaeology who will provide you with advice and support throughout the process.
For more information about securing and completing a placement during your placement year, please visit our Important Information page.
Our BA Archaeology with Professional Placement degree is accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). The course was among the first 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 close links with a number of local and national archaeological units and 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 with expertise that spans the sciences, humanities and social sciences. You’ll learn about global issues, enhanced by the latest developments and thinking within social and scientific archaeology.
- Dr Mary Lewis analyses skeletal remains to uncover the health of past peoples
- Professor Hella Eckardt is demonstrating Britain’s long history of diversity
- Professor Aleks Pluskowski is using environmental archaeology to provide a different perspective on the impact of religious change
- Dr Alanna Cant studies how people make use of culture and the past in today’s world.
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.
Field School and field trips
You will have the opportunity to put your learning into practice through your time with the Archaeology Field School. There, you will 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’ll be encouraged to get involved with research excavations in the UK and Europe, spanning prehistoric monuments, Roman cities, and medieval castles.
Archaeology is not just about digging – it's an academic subject that will teach you valuable theoretical and practical skills. You’ll also have the opportunity to use specialist equipment and GIS (geographical information systems), work in laboratories, and access the University’s three on-campus museums.
Flexible study options
Tailor your degree to your interests with our range of optional modules and flexible pathway structure. For example, you can pursue pathways in:
- humanities-based archaeology
- archaeological science.
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.
Alternatively, you can study this course over three years by choosing our BA Archaeology degree.