BA History and Archaeology
|Typical offer||AAA–ABB; IB: 36–32; BTEC: DDD–DDM|
The combined honours programme of History and Archaeology at Exeter, brings together two well established disciplines to create an exciting and unique programme of study. You will embark on a journey through the human race in historic times: our activities, ideas, creations, institutions and impact, learning to examine the past and uncover changes in society, conflict, culture, religion, politics and science that led us to where we are today. Studying history alongside archaeology provides a way of seamlessly bridging both the arts and sciences with opportunities to work and study in locations across the globe.
Our world-leading history course ranked in the top 10 in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and the Complete University Guide 2020. In history specifically, we are in the Top 100 worldwide for History and are 8th in the UK for world leading research. From the early Medieval period to the 21st century, you will navigate history from a broad range of geographical areas including the Americas, parts of Asia, Britain and Europe. Students can experience and contribute to cutting-edge research through current work our expert faculty are undertaking in areas such as the history of Britain, continental Europe and on world and public history. With support from your tutors, you will learn essential skills like source evaluation and interpretation and historical writing to hone your talents as a historian.
In Archaeology, you will 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. 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. Exeter is unique in that it sits amongst some of the country’s richest archaeological sites such as Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Somerset levels. From microscopic analysis of ancient artefacts and human bone, you will piece together the history of landscapes, prehistoric villages and historic buildings. All our 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. Recent graduates are now working in a diverse range of areas including theatre, government, fundraising and publishing. They hold roles such as Field Archaeologist, Digital Archive Assistant, Head of Marketing and Trainee Gallery Curator.
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.
The History and Archaeology degree programme is made up of compulsory (core) and optional modules, which are worth 15 or 30 credits each. Full-time undergraduate students need to complete modules worth a total of 120 credits each year.
Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or just widen your intellectual horizons.
The centre-point of the final year is the dissertation. This provides you with the opportunity to explore an area of interest and to demonstrate what you have learned over the previous years of your degree in either History or Archaeology. You will also take up to three other specialist modules to create a programme of work fully reflecting your interests.
Full module descriptions
For full module descriptions from previous years, please visit our Humanities student website.
Entry requirements 2020
AAA–ABB; IB: 36–32; BTEC: DDD–DDM
Additional selection criteria
We are looking for well-qualified students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subject.
In addition to the specific requirements listed above, we look for excellent A level* results/predictions and we may also take into account results up to and including GCSEs* and AS Levels* as part of our holistic assessment of an application.
*Equivalent qualifications will be considered. For more information about our equivalencies for specific qualifications please contact our Admissions Office.
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
Throughout the programmes stress is laid on the need to analyse, discuss and deploy historical evidence in a variety of settings and not simply on the ability to memorise. You will learn through lectures, tutorials and seminars, with a growing emphasis at each successive level on student-led learning.
Modules are designed to encourage you to think about long-term developments and processes of historical change, and to make comparisons between countries and cultures. This helps you progress from the more tightly defined topics studied at A level. Modules are also designed to encourage you to think and write analytically about these broad subjects. They emphasise historical questions that require you to identify patterns across time, or between countries, and to isolate common or competing trends, instead of concentrating on short-term or single explanations.
You’ll have on average 1-3 teaching hours per module and will need to allow for up to nine additional hours of private study. You should expect your total workload to average about 40 hours per week during term time. As well as attending lectures and writing essays and assignments, you’ll be expected to make presentations in seminars or tutorials. We encourage your presentation work, because it involves you actively in the teaching and learning process and develops important life skills such as good verbal and visual communication and effective interaction with other people. You’ll also develop a range of professional skills, for example, time management and team working. You’ll gain valuable critical, analytical and communication skills, and technical skills will include accurate note-taking from presentations, research and IT skills. Subject-specific skills gained will include using historical evidence or identifying ethical issues.
You'll have a personal tutor as well as tutors in individual subjects and they will work with you to monitor your progress, as well as offering pastoral support and other help. You will have a chance to make your mark on the programmes through regular student evaluations and participation in the Student-Staff Liaison Committees and the student History Societies on both campuses.
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). Everyone completes 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.
Research-inspired teaching ensures lectures are up-to-date and relevant 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 interests which include the study of topics as diverse as maritime archaeology and Egyptology. You’ll also be encouraged to participate in research projects and be able to choose dissertation topics that contribute original research to a project.
All of our degrees have assessments and examinations each year. Although formal examinations are important tests of skill, up to 50 per cent of your marks will come from other forms of assessment, including coursework essays, projects, dissertations and measures of your skill in presentation and oral work.
The exact balance will depend on the modules you choose and you’ll be informed of the methods of assessment before making your choices. You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year, but the results do not count towards your degree classification. For three-year programmes, the assessments in the second and third years contribute to your final degree classification. For four-year programmes the assessments in the second, third and fourth years all contribute to your final degree classification.
No Archaeology degree is complete without a field trip. 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.
Excavation may take you far from home, or just around the corner; over recent years Exeter students have experienced fieldwork in as diverse locations as Argentina, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, South Dakota, Texas, and here in Devon. In some cases, fieldwork may consist of archaeological work in a museum rather than excavation.
The majority of students carry out fieldwork in relation to research being carried out by academic staff and details of fieldwork locations vary each year. Find out more about our research.
Here are a few examples of recent fieldwork:
- Excavation in prehistoric ‘Plains Indian’ village in Mitchell, South Dakota
- Experimental archaeology project involving the smelting of metals in wind-powered furnaces in Sri Lanka
- Geophysical survey of ceremonial site of Taquara/Itarare people near El Dorado, Argentina
- Survey of antique buildings at World Heritage Site in Butrint, Albania
- Expedition to Gault, Texas, to examine one of the oldest sites of habitation in North America
- Survey and excavation at medieval manorial complex at Stokenham in Devon
- Exploration of early iron working on Exmoor
- Excavation and survey work in Kazakhstan to explore early domestication of horses
History graduates from the University of Exeter have an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and compete very successfully in the employment market.
Studying History at the University of Exeter provides you with skills that are attractive to employers and relevant for a wide range of careers. Alongside in-depth subject knowledge you’ll develop skills in researching; analysing and assessing sources; written and verbal communication; managing and interpreting information and developing ideas and arguments. Our recent graduates have since secured positions in the Heritage and Arts sector, with organisations such as the National Trust and TVF Media.
Studying in History will also equip you with valuable skills for graduate-level work in other sectors. A degree in History provides good opportunities to develop skills that are attractive to many employers, such team work; problem solving and organisational skills. Our recent History graduates have pursued careers in:
- Retail Management
- Finance and Accounting
Other recent graduates have progressed to postgraduate courses in:
- MA Conflict, Security and Development
- Graduate Diploma in Law
- MA English Literary Studies
- MA History
- MSC International Management
The services offered by the Humanities careers and employability team are complementary to the services offered by our central Career Zone, where you can participate in practical sessions to develop your skills; access paid internships and volunteering opportunities; explore postgraduate study options; meet prospective employers; get one-to-one advice and learn how to secure the right job for you.