Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology

Course details

Gain a grounding in British archaeology with this part-time course, designed to suit adult students with busy lives.

This two-year course provides a comprehensive introduction to British archaeology within the context of different chronological periods. You will increase your understanding of the skills and techniques needed to recover, process and evaluate archaeological evidence for the particular periods under investigation.

There are three modules, with one module offered each year. This University of Oxford Diploma is obtained by successfully completing two of the modules:

  • Early Prehistoric Britain
  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain
  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain

Who is this course for?

Taught at second-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 5), this course is the next step if you have either completed, or are due to complete, our Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology, our Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education (having completed some archaeology courses), or other similar courses at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4).

We also welcome applications from those who have completed a short course in archaeology, such as a weekly class or short online course, and have relevant practical experience.

Quick links

How you will study

This is a two-year course. Each year has three terms, and in each of these you will attend weekly classes, which are usually on Thursday evenings 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 five out of six assignments and a practical logbook (or in the second year, an extended project).

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.

Teaching delivery

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

Course content

There are three modules, with one module offered each year. You obtain the Diploma by successfully completing two of the modules, which can be taken in any order. The modules are:

  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain, starting October 2024
  • Early Prehistoric Britain, starting October 2025
  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain, starting October 2026 (to be confirmed)

Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain

This module explores the period from roughly AD 400 to 1500 - an important time that set the scene for the development of Britain as we know it today. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire and leading up to the Reformation this period witnessed social collapse, migration, and successive waves of influence from Scandinavia and Europe. The story of Britain during this time can be traced in the archaeology of settlements, buildings, landscape, trade and material culture, and we will use a range of evidence to examine the spread of new states, religions, beliefs and identities, towns, industries and patterns of consumption. In addition, dramatic crises such as the Viking attacks, the Norman Conquest and the Black Death will be investigated alongside long-term incremental changes.

Course structure

Provisional teaching programme for 2024-25

Thursday evenings, 7-9pm

Michaelmas term (October - December)

  • Archaeology, history and the chronological framework, AD 400-1500
  • The archaeology of Post-Roman Britain
  • Germanic homelands and earliest settlement in England
  • Ritual and burial practice before and during the Conversion
  • Age and gender in early Anglo-Saxon England
  • Early Saxon settlements and estate centres
  • Wics and the Middle Saxon economy
  • Practical weekend I: Analysing human remains
  • Church and society in early medieval Britain
  • The Viking Age in England
  • Warfare, civil defence and the Burghal Hidage

Hilary term (January - March)

  • Landscapes and governance
  • Pictish and Norse Scotland
  • State development and trade in Viking Age Scandinavia
  • Early medieval metalwork
  • The Norman Conquest
  • Ships, ports and maritime structures
  • Practical weekend II: Analysing human remains
  • Medieval towns
  • Urban architecture
  • Saturday session: Ashmolean Museum
  • Group project presentations

Trinity term (April - June)

  • Agricultural landscapes: regional and environmental variations
  • Saturday visit: Museum of London and the city
  • Pottery: diet and lifestyle
  • Church and parish
  • Saturday field trip: Wallingford
  • Abbeys and monasteries
  • Dwelling and farming
  • Manors and vernacular architecture
  • The late Medieval period


You will need to complete:

  • Five out of six assignments of up to 2,500 words.
  • In the first year, a practical logbook of up to 8,000 words, to include four tasks. The tasks usually involve a practical element, for example a field trip, museum visit and/or archaeological fieldwork.
  • In the second year, either a practical logbook or an extended project.

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 Jade Whitlam. 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 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk 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: student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk or contact the Course Administrator: +44 (0)1865 280882 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application you may contact Dr Jade Whitlam:  jade.whitlam@conted.ox.ac.uk

For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 280882 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

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.

All candidates need to upload the following documents as part of their 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. Please note that candidates are required to have the higher-level score.

Continuing Education Certificate students who wish to progress to the 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 Certificate student, a place on the 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 Certificate 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 Diploma will be awarded on completion of two modules of the course. You will be invited to receive your Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

Students who successfully complete this course will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology. The Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 120 points at FHEQ Level 5. 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 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk or student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

Learn more about the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS points).


The fee in 2024-25 is £3,295 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £6,210 (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 www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.

English language requirements

Please check the information of 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 Diploma in British Archaeology, we also offer the Certificate of Higher Education, the Certificate in 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.


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