Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology

Course details

Extend your knowledge of British archaeology with this one-year, part-time course.

This Advanced Diploma aims to give you a grounding in British archaeology within the context of the particular period under investigation. You will further your understanding of the skills and techniques needed to recover, process and evaluate archaeological evidence. You will also research and write a dissertation in a topic of your choice in British archaeology.

Who is this course for?

This course is taught at third-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 6). It is the next step if you have completed, or are due to complete, our Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology or other similar courses at second-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 5).

Online open event

An online open event was held on Thursday 10 February 2022, from 6-7pm (UK time). If you missed this event but have questions about the course, please get in touch by emailing:

Coronavirus update

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are following Government guidance and University regulations, which are subject to change. The teaching on this course in the coming year is expected to take place in person, although we are prepared to move this teaching online (either fully or partly) should circumstances dictate. For example, should social distancing be necessary, we may opt to conduct teaching fully online, or to have some participants accessing teaching from home whilst others join us in the classroom. Offer-holders will be kept informed of all developments.

Quick links

How you will study

You will attend weekly classes, which are usually on Thursday evening and two hours long. You will also have tutorials, weekend field visits and either a practical course held over two weekends or approximately one week of practical fieldwork. You are given a programme of reading for the teaching sessions and the written work. Assessment is based on three assignments, a practical logbook and a dissertation.

As well as the time spent in teaching sessions, you will need to spend around 12 hours a week studying in term-time. This might include reading, preparing course work, and visiting museums, libraries and sites. You will be able to use the facilities of the Continuing Education Library for your background reading and research.

The course in detail

Course content

There are three modules, which are offered in different years. You take one module for this course.​

  • Early Prehistoric Britain, starting October 2022
  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain, starting October 2023
  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain, starting October 2024

Early Prehistoric Britain

The first humans arrived in Britain more than 800,000 years ago when the climate and geography of the British Isles were very different from what they are today. This module will examine the early prehistory of Britain from the time of these earliest inhabitants until c. 1000 BC. The dramatic environmental changes and the behaviour of early hominin populations will be considered within a European context and the cultural developments of the British Palaeolithic will be examined. Hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic, the society and settlement of the first farmers, trade and exchange, and the emergence of new technologies including the use of metals will be explored.

Course structure

Provisional teaching programme for 2022-23

Thursday evenings, 7.00-9.00 pm

Michaelmas term (October - December)

  • Overview: British early prehistory in context                                     
  • Climate change and environments in early prehistory                      
  • Dating methods for early prehistory                                                  
  • Practical session: lithic artefacts                                                       
  • Saturday visit: Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit                                       
  • Human populations in early prehistoric Britain                                 
  • Lower Palaeolithic Britain                                                                  
  • Neanderthals and the British Middle Palaeolithic                              
  • Practical Weekend I                 
  • The origins of advanced cognition and the arrival of modern humans in Europe    
  • Early Upper Palaeolithic Britain                                                         
  • Late Glacial hunter-gatherers and cave artists          

Hilary term (January - March)

  • Mesolithic industries                                                                                       
  • Mesolithic diet and demography                                                       
  • The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition                                                     
  • Early Neolithic communities                                                              
  • Monuments and society                                                                    
  • Neolithic landscapes of the dead                                                      
  • Saturday visit: Stonehenge and environs                                         
  • Late Neolithic monuments and material culture                                
  • Funerary archaeology                                                                       
  • Social change in the late Neolithic                                                                
  • Practical Weekend II                                    
  • Beaker tradition and the Early Bronze Age in Britain and Europe

Trinity term (April - June)

  • Earlier Bronze Age climate, communities, and economy                 
  • Earlier Bronze Age monuments and funerary practices                   
  • Bronze Age social complexity and change                                       
  • Bronze Age metalworking, hoards, warfare, and ritual                                 
  • Saturday visit: Salisbury Plain                                                           
  • Practical session: prehistoric pottery                                                
  • Middle to Late Bronze Age landscapes and settlements                  
  • Group Project presentations                                                              
  • Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age communities and monuments       


You will need to complete:

  • Three assignments of up to 2,500 words.
  • A practical logbook of up to 4,000 words, to include two tasks. The tasks usually involve a practical element, for example a field trip and/or museum visit and/or archaeological fieldwork.
  • A 10,000-word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Course Director.

IT requirements

To study at this level you are expected to have some IT skills, access to a computer and the internet. Your course requires you to engage with the Virtual Learning Environment for course materials and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. Students need to have regular access to a computer and the internet and some level of experience and skill including the use of Microsoft Word or similar word-processing package, email and internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome.

The computer you use should meet our recommended minimum computer specification.

Teaching staff

The Course Director is Dr Alison MacDonald. A range of tutors will teach specific topics.

The Course Director and tutors will be able to help you with academic advice and support. In addition, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to help you develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For further information and to book a place, please email or contact +44 (0)1865 280892.

For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, disability and/or special needs provision and sources of funding, please email: or contact the Course Administrator: +44 (0)1865 280882

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application you may contact Dr Alison MacDonald: +44 (0)1865 270370

For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 280882

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355

For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892

How to apply

Please click on the ‘Apply’ button which will automatically notify us that you want a link to the online application form. We will email you that link together with a code to waive the application fee, and guidance on completing and submitting your application.

  • a written statement stating why they wish to undertake the course, and including (if relevant) an outline of previous experience of the subject;
  • contact details for one referee
  • proof of English language ability if a non-native English speaker. Further information on English language requirements can be found here.

Continuing Education Diploma students who wish to progress to the Advanced Diploma should submit their completed application with a statement of reasons for wanting to apply to the course. No reference is necessary.

Other applicants need to provide contact details for one referee. If possible, your referee should be someone who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please choose a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

If you are a Continuing Education Diploma student, a place on the Advanced Diploma will be reserved for you if your application form is received by the first deadline and if there are enough places available. If there are more Continuing Education Diploma students than places available, a selective system will operate.

Admissions decisions will be based on an assessment of knowledge, relevant experience, academic ability, potential and suitability for a course of study. We welcome applicants without traditional qualifications, including those with relevant career or life skills.

Selection criteria

Even if a course has no specific academic entry requirements then: (a) assessment of an applicant’s academic ability and suitability for the course of study will still take place and (b) since applications for many courses often significantly exceed places available, each application will be judged against the gathered field of applicants for each course each year.

The University is committed to promoting diversity, equality, inclusion, and widening access, including during the admissions process. We fully endorse the Equality Policy and our admissions procedures are kept under regular review to ensure compliance with this policy.

Short-listed applicants will be invited for interview.

The final decision on admission to the course rests with the Department.

Award and credit transfer

An Undergraduate Advanced Diploma will be awarded on completion of the course. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Advanced Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

Students are eligible for the award of 60 transferable credit (CATS) points at FHEQ Level 6 on successful completion of the one-year course. Credit points may be transferred to the Open University, modular universities such as Oxford Brookes University, and other institutions of Higher Education. For further information about transfer of credit, contact the Student Adviser on +44 (0)1865 280355 or

Fees and expenses

The fee in 2022-23 is £2,780 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,230 (Overseas students). An option to pay the fee in instalments may be available.

Please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

Information for applicants from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

On 11 May 2021 the UK Council for International Student Affairs published new regulations and guidance to be used in assessing the fee status of students commencing courses in August 2021 and later. We will be using this guidance to carry out fee status assessments for students commencing courses in 2021/22 and later, including students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland. 

If you are an EU national and do not live in the UK then you are likely to be charged Overseas fees. Students with settled and pre-settled status in the UK and some other categories of students who work in the UK can qualify for Home fee status as long as they meet the residence criteria.

Students from outside the UK/Republic of Ireland

If you are from outside the UK/Republic of Ireland, you will be classed either as an ‘Overseas’ or 'Islands' student.

Information on financial support can be found on our website here.

Overseas students

This course is not suitable for overseas students who do not already live in the UK before the course begins. For information, refer to

English language requirements

Please read the English language requirements for undergraduate study on the University's website. Applicants are required to have the higher level scores.

English language test waivers

To request a waiver, please answer the questions in the online application form accordingly.

Criteria for requesting an English language test waiver.


The Department for Continuing Education offers archaeology day and weekend coursesweekly classesonline short courses and summer schools. In the Undergraduate programme we offer the Certificate in Archaeology, the Certificate of Higher Education, the Diploma in British Archaeology and the Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology. At Postgraduate level we offer an MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology and the DPhil in Archaeology.

If you are planning on embarking on a new career as a result of your studies, or hope to progress in your current field, you can access help and advice through the University Careers Service.