BSc Archaeological Science
|Typical offer||AAB–ABB; IB: 34–32; BTEC: DDD–DDM|
This BSc Archaeological Science programme is designed to train you in the theory and practice of using archaeological scientific methods to investigate the past. The programme will introduce you to the nuts and bolts of scientific approaches, their contexts of application, their strengths and limitations. It will focus on training you to interpret and critique datasets using both published datasets and those you will produce yourself over the course of your studies.
Guided by expert faculty staff you join a friendly, enthusiastic and relaxed community where you will be taught how to consider and assess evidence, draw robust conclusions and communicate them with confidence. Exeter benefits from several well equipped science laboratories that are used for both research and teaching in areas including the identification of plant remains, study of human and animal bones, archaeological survey and molecular approaches including isotopic analysis of bones, teeth and hair. As an undergraduate you will use these facilities to undertake practical sessions, draw on reference collections and learn how to use a variety of specialist analytical equipment to learn about the past. In the third year, our unique program devotes a full half-year of credits to practical application of the skills you have learned in years one and two, through the Practicing Archaeological Science module (focused on teamworking and application of a range of scientific methods) and the Archaeological Science Dissertation Project (a substantial piece of individual research).
Exeter is unique in that it sits amongst some of the country’s richest archaeological sites such as Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Somerset levels. With coast and countryside on your doorstep, our vibrant city centre location offers a rich and varied student experience with a range of social and extracurricular activities; all organised by our active student-led archaeology society. This is a truly interdisciplinary subject and you will get the chance to collaborate with teams in areas such as forensics, ancient history, anthropology, biosciences and geography. All Archaeology degree programmes include applied experience and fieldwork in the UK or abroad, meaning you will also get the opportunity to join live excavations. From an Iron Age settlement in Devon, to prehistoric sites in Kazakhstan and exploring the environmental archaeology of the Amazon basin, this course will ignite a passion in the subject that will last a lifetime.
When you begin your studies, you will be issued with an Archaeology Skills Passport to log your experience. This is something recognised by professionals in the industry and will help open doors to specific archaeological job opportunities. You will also graduate with a solid foundation of transferable skills including critical analysis, independent research and expert communication that will lead to wide range of other careers in the industry and beyond.
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Full module descriptions
For full module descriptions from previous years, please visit our student website.
Entry requirements 2020
AAB–ABB; IB 34-32; BTEC DDD-DDM
One science* A level grade B or IB HL 5.
*Programme requirement AL or HL science subjects include: Biology/Human Biology*, Chemistry, Mathematics/Further Maths/Pure Maths, Physics, Statistics, Electronics, Design and Technology, Computing, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Science (Applied), Physical Education, Use of Maths, Information Technology (within Scottish Highers/Advanced only)
(* If more than one of these is taken they would only count as one ‘science’ but could count as two A levels towards our general requirements.)
International students should check details of our English language requirements
If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.
International Foundation programmes
Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:
Please read the important information about our Typical offer.
For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.
Learning and teaching
The nature of learning at university involves considerable self-guided study and research. You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, field trips and computer-led learning. Led by internationally respected academics at the forefront of research, you will be encouraged to take the initiative by organising study groups, taking advantage of online and traditional learning resources, and managing your own workload and time. You will benefit from our first year tutorial system, which will support you with your study methods and core skills. You will have between one and three hours of teaching per module per week and will need to allow for additional hours of private study. You should expect your total workload to average about 40 hours per week during term time, with at least 10 hours of this being contact time with staff.
We aim to develop your skills of analysis and interpretation as well as providing you with a wide range of transferable skills, both practical and intellectual.
You will carry out a large amount of practical work as you complete assignments and put into practice different archaeological and scientific techniques. We frequently employ experiments in our teaching about ancient technologies (eg, flint knapping, pot making, bronze smelting and casting). Our students complete at least four weeks’ practical work, usually during the first summer vacation, and we have excellent provision of technical equipment for field study, including GPS, total station theodolite and geophysical equipment.
We are actively engaged in introducing new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. Here you can access detailed information about modules and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.
We have outstanding facilities that include: experimental archaeology laboratories; clean lab with fume cupboards for chemical work; a 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; 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 station theodolite and geophysical equipment). We also have extensive reference collections of artefacts, human skeletons, animal bones and plant remains.
Our teaching is inspired by the latest research, ensuring lectures are cutting-edge and you will benefit from access to the latest thinking, equipment and resources. All staff teach third year options which are linked to their own area of research, which include topics such as bioarchaeology and Egyptology. You will be encouraged to participate in research projects and be able to choose a dissertation topic that contributes to original research to a project.
All students have a Personal Tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students' Guild Advice Unit.
You will be assessed by a variety of methods. Some modules require you to sit exams whilst others are assessed by essays and projects. The practical modules are examined by the preparation of written reports, portfolios of work, oral presentations, practical assignments, field work notebooks or take-away papers to allow time for research and perhaps appropriate field or museum visits.
You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but these results do not count towards your final degree classification. In order to be eligible for ‘with Study Abroad’ you will need to attain an average of 60% or more in your first year. The assessments in the second year, year abroad (if applicable) and final year will contribute to your final degree classification.
Fieldwork at Ipplepen
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. In this short video, Danielle Wootton explains the origins of the dig, and the unique features of Ipplepen.
No Archaeology degree is complete without field experience. Field trips are made to local museums, archives and archaeological sites. You will also undertake at least four weeks of excavation, field work or related practical work, usually during your first summer vacation. Current projects see Exeter students engaged in archaeological field work in South Dakota, Brazil, Romania and Devon. Places will be available on these and other projects, though you may wish to go on an approved project elsewhere. You may choose to enhance your field work experience by taking a third year module, which gives you experience of ground-breaking international archaeological research. There is also the possibility for students to spend half a year at a university in America. This will increase your transferable skills, by testing your leadership, teamwork and organisational skills.
Find out more about our fieldwork.
Archaeology programmes at Exeter are designed to develop your skills of analysis, assessment and interpretation as well as the production of written and oral reports. The broad-based skills acquired during your degree will give you an excellent grounding for a wide variety of careers, not only those related to archaeology but also in wider fields such as teaching, media and business. Many of our students successfully progress to postgraduate study or training in a range of areas. Your employability skills are also enhanced through a range of careers initiatives we offer that are specific to the profession, including ‘professional modules’ involving work experience.
The Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award schemes encourage you to participate in employability related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.
Our Archaeology graduates have an excellent reputation with recruiters and compete very successfully in the employment market.
Graduating with a degree in Archaeological Science will put you in a great position to succeed in a range of different careers. Should you want to progress onto a career in the Archaeology, Heritage or Museum sectors, the Archaeological Science degree at Exeter will equip you with the skills which you will need to succeed. You will have the opportunity to progress to a wide range of careers in areas such as archaeological research and consultancy, conservation, local government planning, commercial labs and units, education, business, finance and defence.
Other recent graduates have progressed to postgraduate courses in:
- Experimental Archaeology
- International Relations
- Classics and Ancient History
- Heritage Management
Find out more about careers beyond your degree in Archaeology