BA Museum Studies and Archaeology with Professional Placement
Take your first step towards a rewarding career in heritage – and gain vital industry experience – with our BA Museum Studies and 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 & 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)
- Our three on-site museums – including the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology – enable you to gain practical, hands-on experience.
At Reading, you will combine the study of museology with the excitement of archaeological discovery. You'll learn the core skills of curatorship: researching, analysing, cataloguing, interpreting and displaying museum objects, historic buildings and landscapes.
You will also benefit from the professional expertise of our Museum Studies staff. All of our lecturers are practising heritage professionals, including curators, conservators and archivists.
Explore how we understand and communicate the past
With our BA Museum Studies and Archaeology with Professional Placement degree, you'll explore archaeological techniques and gain practical training on museum practices, perspectives and ethics.
Your studies will explore our human past through material remains, spanning as far back as the first hominins millions of years ago. 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 and heritage issues that are critical to our shared global future, including:
- diets and health
- identity and inequality
- migration and environmental change
- social and cultural differences.
You’ll learn how to investigate, interpret and present our human past through artefacts, sites, digital and museum exhibitions, and public engagement.
We’ll support you to develop a broad range of subject-specific and transferable skills that span the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Your learning can include:
- the investigation of artefacts, monuments, and museum collections
- the development of human societies from six million years ago to the present day
- museum history, policies and ethics
- the role of religion and gender in social change through different time periods
- collections management and preparing exhibitions
- interpreting archaeological subjects and objects for and with different audiences.
By studying human societies through time and investigating how we discuss and display them today, you'll understand how today's issues have roots in the past, and how previous cultures tackled comparable problems.
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.
A supportive, collaborative learning environment
Archaeology is 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 in research.
- 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
- Our Museums and Special Collections are home to a range of nationally and internationally significant museums and collections.
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' experience as a joint honours student in Archaeology.
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’ll be encouraged to get involved with research excavations in the UK and Europe, spanning prehistoric monuments, Roman cities and medieval castles.
At Reading, you’ll learn through a combination of problem-solving and enquiry-based learning techniques.
You can also enhance your knowledge and understanding of museum and archaeological practices through varied learning opportunities, such as:
- artefact-focused modules
- final-year exhibition project
- hands-on experience with artefacts and exhibitions from the University’s Museum of English Rural Life and the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, which features one of the largest collections of Greek and Egyptian antiquities in Britain.
Flexible study options
Tailor your degree to your interests with our range of optional modules and varied learning opportunities, through modules and opportunities that cover:
- cultural and social diversity
- material culture, heritage, and museums
- particular periods or cultural areas.
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.
Combine your studies with opportunities to study abroad, or take a year abroad with our four-year BA Museum Studies and Archaeology with Study Year Abroad course.
Alternatively, you can study this course over three years by choosing our BA Museum Studies and Archaeology degree.