Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology
Does the idea of becoming an archaeologist attract you?
Do you love visiting museums and monuments and wish that you knew more? Are you inspired by ancient artefacts and historic landscapes, and intrigued by new discoveries about our shared human past? Did you perhaps first come across archaeology on TV? Are you concerned that our heritage is fragile and needs greater understanding and protection?
If you want to learn more about archaeology and to acquire some practical skills in an enjoyable way, then the Certificate in Archaeology is an excellent introduction.
This two-year, part-time undergraduate course is designed for adult students with little or no previous experience of academic archaeology. This includes those who are new to archaeology and those who may have some practical experience, and/or have completed online or evening classes, but would now like to pursue a study-based subject qualification. We aim to demonstrate the development and richness of archaeology and introduce how archaeologists work today. We explore people and societies from the past using evidence from Britain, other parts of Europe, and the wider world. In addition to following the programme of taught seminars and practicals, you can specialise in a chosen area or theme by doing an extended project.
The Tuesday evening classes and seminars, Saturday practical workshops and field trips, and fieldwork experience, are led by University teaching staff and professional archaeologists. The Certificate is awarded by Oxford University once the two years have been successfully completed.
We teach in smaller groups than many full-time degree courses. Tutors and students get to know each other and the atmosphere is informal, supportive and friendly. We get to know each student, and their aspirations and needs.
Online open event
Join us on Tuesday 18 April 2023, from 6-7pm (UK time) for a virtual open event. This will give you the chance to meet the Course Director, Professor David Griffiths, discover more about the programme and have your questions answered.
- How you will study
- The course in detail – including course structure and assessment
- IT requirements
- Teaching staff and contact information
- Application details – how to apply, fees, award and credit transfer
Who is this course for?
You will need enthusiasm, commitment and a high degree of motivation if you are to enjoy and complete the course. No formal academic qualifications are required. After applications have been received, the Course Director will invite potential students to come and discuss how appropriate the course is for their needs. We will offer places based on evidence of motivation, understanding of the time commitment, and preparedness/suitability of the level of study. (If you have no prior study experience of any kind, you may wish to take a weekly or online class first, to get a feel for the subject and how it is taught and assessed.)
How you will study
This is a two-year course. Each year has three terms, and in each of these you will attend alternate weekly Tuesday evening classes and some Saturday field trips, fieldwork and workshops. During the first year there is a one-week programme of practical fieldwork, this is usually held during the Easter holidays or the Summer holidays.
The classroom sessions provide the foundation for the practical elements of the course, which are:
- workshops, in which you will investigate artefacts and environmental evidence
- fieldwork sessions, in which you start to learn essential practical skills in survey and excavation
- field trips, on which you will investigate sites and landscapes.
Weekday evening sessions are based at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, on alternate Tuesdays, 7-9pm. Saturday sessions are usually from 10am-4pm and are held at Rewley House, the Ashmolean Museum and various fieldwork sites close to Oxford.
In addition to the teaching sessions, we expect you to spend an average of 12 hours each week in activities such as reading, preparing coursework, visiting museums, libraries and sites. You can undertake the necessary background reading and research for the coursework using the facilities of the Continuing Education Library at Rewley House and other libraries.
This course is expected to be taught in person at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA. Should circumstances dictate, the teaching can be moved online (either fully or partly).
The course in detail
The first year considers the development of the modern discipline and covers the fundamentals of archaeological theory and practice. The second year studies key themes and turning points in archaeology from prehistory to the medieval period, and deals with certain practical and scientific topics in more detail. Each year focuses broadly on prehistory in the first term, later prehistory and the Roman period in the second term, and post-Roman and medieval archaeology in the third term.
Provisional teaching programme for Year 1
Michaelmas term (October - December):
- What is archaeology? Current organisation and purpose of the modern discipline
- (Saturday) Field visit to White Horse Hill
- The birth of the discipline: key archaeologists
- Archaeological evidence
- Saturday Workshop: Lithics (Ashmolean)
- Archaeological method and theory
- (Saturday) practical workshop on ancient metalwork and the PAS
- Key site: Troy
- Visit to Oxford Archaeology (4-5pm); the work of Oxford Archaeology (Rewley House, 7-8pm)
Hilary term (January - March):
- The development of urban archaeology
- Finding sites from the air
- (Saturday) practical workshop: plant remains in archaeology
- Artefacts in archaeology
- (Saturday) Museum visit
- Excavation Preparation Session: Appleton and Besselsleigh
There is a one-week programme of practical fieldwork, usually in April.
Trinity term (April - June):
- Landscape Archaeology in the field
- Survey in archaeology: topography and geophysics
- (Saturday) Workshop: Pottery
- (Saturday) Earthworks Survey
- (Sunday) Earthworks Survey
- Key sites: Palmyra and Petra
- (Saturday) Fieldwork - Test pits day 1
- (Sunday) Fieldwork - Test pits day 2
Provisional teaching programme for Year 2
Year 2 covers key themes and turning points introduced in Year 1 in more detail: for example science in archaeology and excavation report writing. Practical workshops studying archaeological evidence and fieldwork elements continue building on the foundations laid in Year 1. Students from both years join together for the practical sessions.
- Introduction to prehistoric periods: farming in prehistory
- Landscapes of prehistoric monumentality
- Isotopes and Ancient DNA
- (Saturday) Workshop: Lithics (Ashmolean)
- Scientific Dating Techniques
- Key site: Çatal Höyük
- Extended Project briefing/ Cities in the Roman world
- Public life in Ancient Rome
- (Saturday) Workshop at Rewley House: plant remains in archaeology
- The economy and working life of Rome
- Key sites: Pompeii and Herculaneum
- (Saturday) Visit: the British Museum
- Roman material culture
- Medieval and post-Medieval landscapes
- The archaeology of buildings
- (Saturday) Workshop at Rewley House: pottery
- Post excavation and report writing
- (Saturday) Earthworks survey
- (Sunday) Earthworks survey
- Student presentations of extended assignments
- (Saturday) Fieldwork near Oxford: test pit excavation day 1
- (Sunday) Fieldwork near Oxford: test pit excavation day 2
- (Saturday) Field trip, Avebury
Assessment is based on:
- 5 assignments per year of up to 2,000 words in length (including the first assignment in Year 1, which is formative and does not count towards the final assessment)
- a practical fieldwork journal at the end of the first year of up to 2,000 words
- a two-hour written examination in the first year
- an extended assignment of up to 5,000 words in the second year
A progress review of each student's performance is carried out at the end of the first year: your performance must be considered satisfactory if you are to continue to the second year.
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.
The Course Director is Professor David Griffiths. The Director of the training excavation is Dr Jane Harrison. 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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Course Administrator on +44 (0)1865 280882 email@example.com.
Professor David Griffiths: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)1865 270360 (main desk)
For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 280882 email@example.com
For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 email@example.com
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.
You will need to upload the following documents as part of your application:
- a statement of 300 words outlining your previous experience of the subject (if any) and your reasons for wishing to enrol on the course. No need to submit any written work.
- proof of English language ability if a non-native English speaker. Further information on English language requirements can be found here. Please note that candidates are required to have the higher-level score.
- 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.
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.
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 Certificate will be awarded on completion of the course. You will be invited to receive your Certificate at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.
The syllabus and teaching of the course are aimed at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4). Students who successfully complete this two-year course will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology, equivalent to 120 CATS points at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4) in the Department’s Qualifications and Credit Framework. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. These credit points are widely recognised in terms of credit for transfer to other higher education institutions, including the Open University and modular universities such as Oxford Brookes University.
Opportunities vary for the transfer of credit, so students who are considering taking this course in order to transfer credit are advised to discuss the possibilities with the Course Administrator on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Learn more about the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS points).
The fee for 2023-24 is £3,000 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,650 (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
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 granted under the EU Settlement Scheme 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. For more information about fee status criteria please visit the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website as well as the Oxford and the EU webpage.
Information for applicants from the Republic of Ireland
Irish nationals who have been living in the Republic of Ireland or the UK can qualify for Home fees as long as they meet the residence requirements which can be found on the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website.
UK nationals who have been living in the EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar and are returning to England to study
UK nationals living in the EEA, Switzerland or Gibraltar from December 2020 until the first day of their course and for the three years before the first day of their course will also be charged Home fees subject to the requirements on the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website. Children of UK nationals will also be eligible on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals, as long as both they and their parent meet the above criteria.
Information on financial support can be found on our website here.
This course is not suitable for overseas students who do not already live in the UK before the course begins. For information, refer to www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.
English language requirements
Please check the information on the specific English language requirements for this course. Applicants are required to have the higher level scores.
The Department for Continuing Education offers archaeology day and weekend courses, weekly learning programmes and summer schools.
In the undergraduate programme, as well as the Certificate in Archaeology, we also offer 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.