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BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology
BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology

BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology

  • ID:BU440021
  • Level:3-Year Bachelor's Degree
  • Duration:
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Admission Requirements

Entry Requirements

  • This course requires 104–120 UCAS tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent. We are happy to consider a combination of qualifications and grades to meet the overall tariff, for example A-levels A*CC, ABC, BBB or BCC, BTECs DDM or DMM. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to UCAS tariff points.

English Requirements

  • If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.0 with a minimum of 6.0 in either reading or writing and 5.5 in all other components or equivalent.

Course Information

Why study BA (Hons) Archaeology and Anthropology?

  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the diversity and richness of contemporary and past human societies across the globe

  • Alongside specialist units you’ll get a comprehensive grounding in the practical elements of archaeology and anthropology through working in cutting-edge labs and out in the field

  • Specialise in social or biological, anthropology or archaeology, or if you’d like to take a broader focus, you can continue to study elements of all these disciplines

  • Undertake a five or 30- week work placement at home or abroad. It’s a great way to cultivate the experience and contacts you’ll need to secure work after you graduate

  • Take part in BU’s renowned field school to gain a wide range of practical skills.

For September 2022 entry: In order to take advantage of new approaches to learning and teaching, as well as developments in industry to benefit our students we regularly review all of our courses. This course is currently going through this process and we will update this page in June 2022 to give you full information about what we will be offering once the review process has concluded.

UCAS Code: VL46

More info: Click here

Year 1

Core units

  • AAFS Study Skills: Fundamental skills for any scientist are the ability to work with a range of field and lab data. This unit will provide you with the knowledge to perform statistical analysis, create charts, graphs & maps, and write clear and concise reports using appropriate software packages.

  • Ancient Peoples & Places: You will be introduced to the key thematic studies in archaeology concerning the evolution and development of ancient humans, changing technologies and material culture, and the organisation and development of past societies. You will be introduced to a range of archaeological, fossil, genetic and ethnographic evidence and develop core skills of analysis, interpretation, and reasoning using archaeological data.

  • Approaches to Archaeology: This unit aims to introduce students to key aspects of studying the past through the discipline of archaeology. Attention is focused on the history and development of the discipline from the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries; the principal current epistemologies and theoretical traditions; formation processes and methods of discovering archaeological sites and features; the main classes of evidence represented by artefacts and ecofacts, their characteristics, how they are studied by archaeologists, and the information they may provide; current traditions of archaeological endeavour; and the nature of key dimensions of the past including time, space, place, and society.

  • Archaeological Practice: The knowledge and skills essential to the aspiring archaeologist practicing within the modern professional discipline of archaeology will be covered in this unit. It will also provide you with an understanding of the interconnectedness of data derived from field situations and that recovered from archived sources in an on-going analytical process of refinement and reinvestigation. Successful completion of the unit will enable you to understand the context of archaeological data, which will support and enhance aspects of structural, artefactual and palaeo-environmental analysis delivered at all levels in the courses in which it lies.

  • Gathering Time: This is about the chronological framework that supports archaeological understanding and interpretation. You will be introduced to the concept of time, how it is measured and reckoned in current societies and how it has been understood by societies in the past. You will gain an understanding of current techniques in dating and what methods are appropriate for use with different archaeological materials.

  • Introduction to Social Anthropology: During this unit student centred activities such as discussions and short presentations will enable you to demonstrate your growing knowledge of the historical emergence and development of anthropology and some of the key theoretical and empirical debates within social anthropology. You will also be able to gain insights into social anthropological perspectives and have the knowledge and confidence to debate contemporary world problems and issues.

Year 2

Core units

  • Becoming Human: What makes us (as humans) unique? Where did our species come from? Starting from the divergence of the human lineage from that of other apes, this unit will demonstrate how a wide variety of different lines of evidence can inform the way in which we became human. You will learn how archaeologists and anthropologists interpret the fossil and archaeological evidence to understand the ways in which our ancestors and related species lived and how this changed over time. A key focus throughout will be on the relationship between the biological and social environments for evolution, and how the interaction between them influenced the evolution not only of our distinctive biological life histories, subsistence and foraging patterns but also our social life and culture, in the form of technology, material culture, language and symbolism.

  • Field & Research Skills: To ensure you gain a practical understanding of the aims, strategies and methods of fieldwork, you will participate in a fieldwork training project. During this, you will carry out practical tasks such as excavating, processing finds and samples. You will work in groups to solve problems, developing team skills and professional competencies.

  • Themes in Archaeology & Anthropology: If there is such a thing as ‘human nature’, then why are cultures across the world so different? Many things and practices that we think of as ‘natural’ or biologically given – for example, bodies, eating, shelter and the environment – are in fact thought about or performed in very different ways in different cultures across the globe today and in the past. How and why have cultural differences come about, and why might they change? This unit will introduce you to the diversity of contemporary and past human cultures around the world, and to some of the methods anthropologists and archaeologists use to study these differences.

Option units

Semester 1 (choose one):

  • Archaeological Science: This unit will develop your understanding of how thematic archaeological research questions may be addressed through the use of archaeological scientific techniques and approaches. Knowledge of case studies will be developed to promote understanding of the potential applications of archaeological science to investigate the behaviour of past human societies.

  • Post-excavation Skills: Providing you with practical hands-on post-excavation skills, you will gain an understanding of the planning, management and documentation of post-excavation studies. Practical experience will also be obtained in one of a range of post-excavation specialist skills, focusing on the formulation of a post-excavation research archive, retrieval and analysis of data derived from excavation and field survey, and the preparation of specialist reports. You will also acquire an appreciation of key concepts and methodological approaches including: post-excavation recording and use of archaeological assemblages to address archaeological research questions; analytical approaches; classification systems and typologies; depositional and taphonomic processes; relevant technical skills.

Semester 2 (choose two):

  • Controversial Culture: You will explore how concepts of ‘culture’ and ‘society’ are theorized within sociology, anthropology and related disciplines. Drawing on selected key texts from these academic areas, the unit will examine the historical development and critique of the concepts of culture and society. In particular, you will explore how these ideas were developed by some of the classic theorists of social science disciplines. Following this, we will explore the continuing significance of classic thinkers to contemporary debates on issues such as class, poverty, gender, race and nation, as well as the nature of modernity. How are notions of culture and society used in current sociological and anthropological research, and what is their relevance to social relationships in the contemporary world?

  • Growing Up & Growing Old: This unit explores sociological and anthropological perspectives and theories of childhood, youth and aging. It examines the variety and change in which the different categories of the life course, as well as how the transition from one stage to the next have been imagined, marked and constructed in different cultures and throughout history. It explores what impact such constructions have on people’s experiences of growing up and growing old. Drawing particularly on ethnographic studies from different parts of the world, the unit will explore the diverse experiences of children, young and old people in relation to, for example, economic or social circumstances including class, education, employment, and many others. It asks what impact specific contexts and structures as well as dominant representations, such as in the media, government policies or law, have on human lives; for example, how these affect the social status; or a sense of security and protection from violence and abuse; or the scope for agency and choice at different age stages across different cultures and society.

  • Maritime Archaeology: This unit is focused on the development of maritime archaeological traditions and management regimes in the UK. You will be introduced to the archaeology of boats and ships from the past enabling you to understand the broad chronology of their development. The unit will be delivered through a combination of keynote lectures and seminars supported by a field-trip to a site relevant to the key elements (e.g. the Mary Rose, Chatham Historic Dockyard or the Cutty Sark).

  • Rome & Barbarian Europe: In this unit you will be taught primarily by illustrated lectures. The lecture programme will be delivered in two consecutive strands comprising the ‘Golden Age’ of the Roman Empire (1st – 3rd Centuries AD) and the Later Empire with its changing cultural reference points. Field visits will be made to British sites of significance to the periods under study, laying stress upon their importance to the historic environment. The unit provides a chronological and topographical framework within which you will develop an understanding of the history, archaeological impact, key sites, monuments, belief-systems, artistic expression, political complexity, fashions and environment of the Roman Empire from the 1st Century to the 7th Century AD in its wider European, African and Asian context. The complex interrelationship between the classical world and that of, so-called ‘barbarian’ (Celtic/Germanic/Scandinavian/Slavic) people of north and eastern Europe will, in particular, be studied from the standpoint of history, archaeology and geography. Key to the unit will be the analysis and understanding of and cultural diversification and change.

  • Societies of Prehistoric Europe: Keynote lectures are supported by discussion sessions to provide you with an introduction to the study of early farming societies in Temperate Europe and the northern Mediterranean (c.6000-800 BC). They will bring together evidence of settlement patterns; subsistence economies; the production, use and trade of artefacts; ritual and burial practices; and landscape change, to provide a sound understanding of how these societies inhabited and manipulated their environment. You will be required to undertake a considerable amount of supportive research.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Optional placement year

You may choose to complete an optional 30-week minimum work placement which can be carried out anywhere in the world. The placement year offers a chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future.

Alternatively you can complete a short five-week placement and complete your course in three years.

Final year

Core units

  • Cultural Ecology: Humans share their habitats with a multitude of other organisms and have to adapt to a variety of existing or changing circumstances of the natural environment. However, humans themselves change these basic conditions by using techniques, agreements, rules and modes of organisation in order to facilitate long-term settlement their habitat; they form and manipulate their environment as part of adaptation strategies within the framework of their personal interests and collective goals. Adaptations of human populations to their respective habitats thus always embrace cultural strategies and their biological conditions and consequences. By considering an ecosystems approach, this unit will give an overview and discuss of the diversity and correspondence of biocultural solutions, which human populations have developed to co-ordinate these two sides of their life support system.

  • Independent Research Project: The Independent Research Project provides you with an opportunity to gain experience of research in a topic of your choice relevant to your degree and to demonstrate your ability to report that research. Such experience is considered essential for those students interested in pursuing academic and/or professional research at a higher level of responsibility and achievement.

Option units

Semester 1 (choose one):

  • Anthropology of International Policy & Intervention: Following conflict, war or regime change, many populations and states have become subject to large-scale military or humanitarian intervention, policy and knowledge transfer and translation projects, globally, from West to East or North to South. The interventions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo (to name a few) have led to a recognition of the importance of understanding local knowledge and involving local stakeholders in order to ensure the success of projects intending securitisation and democratisation, peace- and state-building. This unit aims to familiarise you with critical anthropological debates on international intervention policies and practices. By introducing you to existing, multi-sited ethnographic research into international and local organisations and actors, their experiences, practices, norms and perceptions as well as into the transformations of ‘Western’ intervention paradigms on the ground, the unit will provide the basis for scholarly criticism of real-life international policy transfer in global asymmetric relations of power. It will foster critical and creative thinking for improving professional, ethically-aware future practices in the applications of anthropological, sociological and policy expertise This unit aims to familiarise you with critical anthropological debates on international intervention policies and practices. By introducing you to existing, multi-sited ethnographic research into international and local organisations and actors, their experiences, practices, norms and perceptions as well as into the transformations of ‘Western’ intervention paradigms on the ground, the unit will provide the basis for scholarly criticism of real-life international policy transfer in global asymmetric relations of power. It will foster critical and creative thinking for improving professional, ethically-aware future practices in the applications of anthropological, sociological and policy expertise.

  • Archaeological Management: This unit will cover the principles and practice of conservation and management of the historic environment in the UK, examining the professional environment, legislative background, and organisational context. You will also cover the principles of business planning and project developments, including the costing and tendering procedures associated with the professional delivery of contracting and consultancy work; and consider ethical, professional, and health and safety issues. Working in groups, you will perform an assessment of the archaeological or historical potential of a given site, monument, building, or area, the threats posed to it, and options available to mitigate those threats, preparing you for professional employment in archaeological and conservation organisations.

  • Later Prehistoric Britain: By the end of this unit you will have a detailed critical understanding of the archaeology of the later Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain, broadly 1500BC-AD50, in Britain in its Continental context. The unit will provide a broad knowledge of chronological and regional variations within later prehistoric Britain and also contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the development of archaeological theory.

  • Seekers, Believers & Iconoclasts - Sociology of Thought: This unit explores the concept of science as a sociological phenomenon contextualised within a cultural and social analysis, as well as a philosophical and historical one. Science is considered as a social organisation dedicated to the production of knowledge that is accepted within a corpus of knowledge as conforming to that governing scientific epistemology. This position is contrasted with bodies of knowledge that lie beyond these rules and governance.

Semester 2 (choose two):

  • Animals & Society: This unit aims to provide you with a detailed critical understanding of humans’ interactions with animals in Britain from the Palaeolithic through to the early Post-medieval period. These interactions include the exploitation of animals for meat and other products and how animals were incorporated into burial practices and other rituals.

  • Primate Behavioural Ecology: Providing an understanding of how primate behaviour can be interpreted from an evolutionary viewpoint, and how human and non-human primates’ behavioural strategies are adapted to the environment (social and ecological) in which they live, the unit will stimulate discussion and the critical analysis of theories by a combination of lectures, directed reading, and discussion sessions, which will involve the analysis of scientific articles.

  • Roman Britain: You will be provided with the opportunity to explore in detail the practical and theoretical problems associated with the study of the material culture and archaeology of a distinct geographical area. The unit seeks to provide you with a solid understanding of the importance of archaeological data in the understanding and interpretation of historical chronologies.

  • Sarup to Stonehenge - Neolithic & Chalcolithic of Northwest Europe: The archaeology of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, broadly 4000-2000 BC, in the British Isles and the adjacent Continental coastlands from western France to southern Scandinavia is one of the most formative periods in the social and economic development of communities occupying northwest Europe, and includes both the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming cultures and the introduction of metallurgy. The unit will provide a broad and comparative knowledge of a selected chronological period for a selected geographical region and contribute to your knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of archaeology as a discipline. A field-visit will normally be made to allow the direct observation of a selection of field monuments we discuss. We expect you to visit a number of sites and museums during the course of the year, in order to broaden your overall experience of the Neolithic Period.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

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Career Opportunity

Career Opportunity

Throughout your degree, you will learn skills to enable you to work in professional practice and you will be in a position to join fieldwork and other projects all over the world.

There is an increased demand for archaeologists and the profession has been placed on the government list of skilled occupation shortages.

Ability to settle

Overseas Student Health Cover

OSHC: 624 ($) GBP per year

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