Skip to main content

Postgraduate Study - PhD and Research Degrees



Degree types explained

  • MPhil/PhD Archaeology
  • MA by Research Archaeology

Degree duration details

Start date

September, January or April

Location Streatham Campus
Study modes

Study mode details

Full time and part time
Distance-based research available Study mode details


Our research can be grouped into the following themes 

  • Archaeology of the Americas
  • Bioarchaeology
  • Experimental archaeology 
  • Landscape archaeology 
  • Material culture and social agency
  • Wetlands, coastal and maritime landscapes


View 2024 Entry

How to apply

Apply online

Ask a question


Web: Enquire online
Phone: 0300 555 6060 (UK)
+44 (0)1392 723044 (non-UK)

Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72

Top 50 in world subject rankings for Archaeology

QS World University Subject Rankings 2024

Top 10 in the UK for Archaeology

9th in the Complete University Guide 2025, 9th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024

4th in the UK for internationally excellent Archaeology research

Research Excellence Framework 2021

£1.3m external research funding awarded over 3 years

Academic years 2015-2018

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 2021 Research Excellence Framework the Department was ranked 4th 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.

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

Archaeology of the Americas

  • 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


  • 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

Experimental 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

Landscape archaeology

  • 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

Material culture and social agency

How to apply

Entry requirements

To be considered, PhD applicants need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A good undergraduate degree (in the UK, at least an upper second class honours) in a relevant subject
  • A taught Masters degree in a relevant 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

International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course. The required test scores for this course fall under Profile E: view the required test scores and equivalencies from your country.

PhD and Research Programme application process

The information below applies to self-funded PhD, MPhil and Masters by Research applicants, but if you are applying for a funded PhD studentship, please follow the specific instructions related to that application.

  • Pinpoint your PhD research area
  • Investigate whether this area is available at Exeter
  • Ensure that you meet our English language entry requirements (international students only)
  • Construct and refine your PhD research proposal
  • Approach your potential supervisor(s)
  • Apply online

PhD studentships pages can be accessed in our Funding lists on Finance tabs under each research topic page, and are also available from the Postgraduate Research search results pages on this site, on the PhD projects tab.

Full details of the application process can be found on our Apply now webpage.

Read more

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2024/25

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 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.

Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information. If you are considering a PhD in the future, in addition to University of Exeter funding, we have been successful at securing postgraduate funding for PhD research through our Funded Centres.

Current available funding


You can expect:

  • High-quality research supervision to develop and nurture your potential
  • A tailored supervision approach to help best suit your requirements
  • Accessible supervisors who are enthusiastic about working directly with postgraduate research students
  • Regular timetabled meetings with your supervisor
  • 'Open door' policy to all postgraduate students - instant access to world-leading researchers who will share their expertise and ideas with you
  • Regular meetings with your supervisory team, other members of your research group, and mentors

Find a supervisor