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The University of Southampton
ArchaeologyPart of HumanitiesUndergraduate study

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In the top 100 of universities globally (QS World University Rankings 2022), Southampton is a leading UK research university with world-class facilities and teaching, innovative learning environments and unmatched flexibility in our degree programmes. We back this up with superb accommodation and excellent sport and social amenities.

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Archaeology's undergraduate programmes

Archaeology at Southampton can be studied on its own, or combined with either history or geography. All of our programmes can be studied full time over three years, or part time over six years. We teach archaeology in a flexible, thematic and non-traditional manner. In the first two years you will be taught a range of practical skills and different approaches to collecting and interpreting archaeological evidence. The last year of the course allows you to apply these skills and approaches to detailed periods of the past in Britain, Europe and further afield.

Single honours
In the first year, you will take eight different modules which will provide you with a background in all aspects of archaeology. Part of the first year involves at least three weeks' field-work. In the second year, you will study four compulsory core modules and choose another four from a wide range of option courses. The final year centres on writing your dissertation, your own detailed study of a particular topic worth 25 per cent of the year's marks. You also choose six other modules.

Combined honours
If you combine archaeology with one of a wide range of other subjects you spend half of your first year studying archaeology. You will also spend at least three weeks on a field project. In the second and third years, you can choose to study as much as 75 per cent or as little as 25 per cent of your options in archaeology.

Outstanding subject choice
As one of the largest programmes of its kind, we can offer a much wider range of different course options and field-work opportunities than most other archaeology courses in Britain. Southampton teaches and researches many different aspects of archaeology which are offered at only few, if any, other British universities. These include:

Archaeology is one of the broadest subjects taught at university, and one of the few that bridges the arts, humanities and the sciences. This breadth means that you will be able to find subjects and areas that you are most suited to study or become most interested in. At its heart archaeology is also a very practical subject. It reconstructs the past from physical evidence, and learning to collect, evaluate and interpret physical evidence are important skills a degree in archaeology will teach you.


Through the structure of optional modules, you are able to develop your own interests within one or more of our areas of research excellence. An important part of this is the dissertation, where you have the opportunity to carry out a research project within your chosen specialism under the supervision of an academic member of staff. Read more about undergraduate tracks.

Teaching methods

The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, small classes and practical sessions. In all years, courses are assessed through a mixture of 50 per cent examination and 50 per cent assessed course work, or 100 per cent assessed course work. Assessments take a variety of forms including making museum exhibitions, designing websites, keeping a journal, or a fieldwork project.

Guided learning, independent research and exchanging ideas
Teaching at Southampton is delivered in several ways:

The lecture is the main formal teaching element. Each course module normally has two 45-minute lectures a week in which the lecturer will provide you with the main elements of a subject and a critique of current ideas. Unlike school and college, the content of lectures alone is never enough to pass any course. You are always expected to do a wide range of reading and personal research for all courses. Lectures are given to the whole group studying a module, between eight and 65 students depending on the course.

In addition to lectures, most courses also involve classes which provide the opportunity for smaller groups of students to take an active part in discussion with each other and with lecturers and postgraduate students. A typical course module would have one class per student every three weeks.

Practical studies
Practical subjects, such as survey or the study of animal bones, are taught differently. The numbers in classes studying practical subjects are always small so that you can benefit from the close attention of members of staff. These subjects are taught through a mixture of small classes/lectures and practical experience, often involving laboratory work or study in the field. Archaeology is particularly well equipped with laboratories for the study of animal and human bones, computing, pottery and worked stones. There are, in addition, several large rooms used for practical teaching.

Student Placements

We run student placement schemes in conjunction with Wessex, one of the largest archaeology units in the country, and with English Heritage.

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I loved the way the campus was so close to the city - so it's really easy to get to the town and the train station - but the campus is still detached. It was also one of the few universities I visited, and I really liked it!
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