• MPhil/PhD Archaeology
  • MA by Research Archaeology
Degree typesTypes of research degrees explained
DurationDegree duration details
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Study modesFull time and part time
Distance-based research available Study mode details
Start date September, January or April

Research overview

This Research in the Archaeology Department covers human origins through to the recent past, and is characterised by theoretically informed field-based approaches and a strong commitment to methodological innovation.

Our staff and research students work in Britain, mainland Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America, and in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework the Department was ranked 3rd in the UK for world-leading and internationally excellent research.

We offer supervision across a wide variety of research specialisms. Visit our staff profiles for details of our individual research interests.

Our research can be grouped into the following themes (links go to our Archaeology department pages)

Archaeology of the Americas

  • Archaeobotany
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Lithic analysis
  • Provenance studies
  • Zooarchaeology


  • The origins and development of social inequality, violence and warfare
  • Morphological alteration in response to physical activity and labour in the rise of craft specialists and elites across political, social and economic transitions
  • Changing patterns of resource exploitation of plants and animals
  • Human – environment relations, in particular the early domestication of plants and animals, and the legacy of past human impact on modern environments
  • How social relationships in the past contribute to funerary patterning in the archaeological record and how these relate to social processes amongst the living

Experimental archaeology

  • The origins and development of complex stone flaking technologies in the Upper Palaeolithic of south-western Europe and North America
  • Identification of tool uses in relation to changing land use patterns
  • Exploration of bone flaking technologies in relation to Late Pleistocene technologies
  • Iron smelting technologies and their relationships to Iron Age interactions across Europe and South Asia
  • The introduction and adoption of the wheel in Crete and Cyprus in the Bronze Age and its relevance to Eastern Mediterranean cultural interaction
  • Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans in Eurasia
  • Early hominin brain development

Landscape archaeology

  • The origins and development of historic landscapes, uncovering where our landscapes of today came from
  • Exploring ancient landscapes through remote sensing techniques
  • Understanding the changing patterns in the exploitation of resources such as salt, obsidian clays and metals
  • Human/environment relations, looking in particular at the early domestication of plants and animals
  • How social relationships and cultural values shape past perceptions and current understanding of landscape

Material culture and social agency

  • Organic and inorganic materials and technologies
  • The sensory worlds of prehistoric societies
  • The acquisition and transmission of technical skills and craft traditions
  • The circulation and exchange of artefacts and materials in ancient societies
  • Identity, representation, and material culture
  • Heritage and value
  • The presentation and representation of archaeological materials and artefacts
  • The materiality of socio-political complexity: feasting and monumentality

Wetlands, coastal and maritime landscapes

  • The wetlands of Britain, with particular involvement in fieldwork in the Somerset Levels, the Humber Wetlands, the Gwent Levels and the Essex Marshes, but also further afield, for example the Irish Midlands
  • Prehistoric and early historic seafaring, including the study of early craft such as the Bronze Age sewn-plank boats, linked to the study of early trade and exchange
  • The conservation management of wetlands and historic wetland landscapes, including active involvement with the management of Essex coastal marshes and in the Wetland Vision project
  • Human–environment relations studied through the archaeology of the sea
  • How social relationships and cultural values shape past perceptions and current understanding of wetland, coastal and maritime landscapes

In 2010 the University of Exeter, the British Museum and Devon County Council started a survey and excavation that aimed to explore the nature of this Roman and early medieval British site. Devon Finds Liaison Officer, Danielle Wootton, explains the origins of the dig, and the unique features of Ipplepen.


Our outstanding and recently refurbished facilities include:

  • experimental archaeology laboratories;
  • clean lab with fume cupboards for chemical work;
  • landscape archaeology project office, complete with giant scanner for maps and plans;
  • microscope room equipped with high-spec microscopes and image processing facilities;
  • a kiln room for ceramics and other experimental purposes;
  • wet labs for artefact and environmental sample processing;
  • good sets of high- and low-power teaching microscopes and state-of-the-art surveying equipment, including resistivity equipment, magnetometer, differential and hand-held GPS and total stations;
  • extensive reference collections of artefacts, animal bones and plant remains.


Graduates of Archaeology postgraduate programmes have successfully progressed to wide range of roles, examples of which are listed below.

Our taught programmes offer professional skills modules enabling you to learn a particular skill or group of skills within your own area of interest through project or work placement, while our links with industry, museums and independent establishments provide further opportunities to engage in practical work. These experiences have proved valuable for many of our graduates, helping them move into or develop archaeological or heritage careers.

Postgraduates also have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone.

This includes our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme for research students which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Archaeology postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation

Conservation Assistant
Development Officer
DNA Technician
Fyssen Postdoctoral Fellow
Honorary Research Fellow
Research Officer
Senior Archaeologist
Service Support Officer
College Dean

Nottingham Trent University
Fyssen Foundation
Heritage Lottery Fund
Isle of Wight Council
University of Bristol
National Trust
Pendle Borough Council
UCL Institute of Neurology
University of Exeter


Indonesian Embassy

Entry requirements

Students applying to enter directly into the MPhil/PhD programme would normally be expected to have a Masters degree with Merit or equivalent in Archaeology, or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2023/24

For those studying for more than one year, our fees are expected to increase modestly in line with Consumer Price Inflation measured in December each year. More information can be found on our Student Finance webpages.

Tuition fees per year 2022/23

For those studying for more than one year, our fees are expected to increase modestly in line with Consumer Price Inflation measured in December each year. More information can be found on our Student Finance webpages.

Current available funding

Contact us

Doctoral College/Humanities
Web: Enquire online

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