BA Archaeology and Ancient History

This programme combines the best of the disciplines of Archaeology and Ancient History into one discrete programme. It provides you with the opportunity to study prehistoric societies in the Mediterranean and Britain alongside the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Western Asia, Greece and Rome. By interpreting historical and archaeological evidence together, we can build a rounded picture of the life and culture of these ancient societies.

In your first year you will undertake a field training course in which you will gain core practical skills and first-hand knowledge of archaeological fieldwork methodology, and in your second year You will have the opportunity a Study Tour abroad. The University offers financial support for both of these invaluable learning experiences. Student satisfaction scores are very high for Archaeology and Ancient History at Birmingham with 93% of students reporting they are satisfied with the quality of the course.

Course fact file

UCAS code: VVC4

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 17

Applications in 2013: 104

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September


On this programme you will be taught by ancient historians specialising in Egypt, Western Asia, Greece and Rome, and archaeologists whose expertise covers everything from north-west Europe, to Classical Greek and Roman societies and early medieval states in Europe and the Mediterranean.

When you enrol on the Archaeology and Ancient History programme you will be joining a lively environment where you will find friendly encouragement to follow your particular interests in the past, and gain the necessary skills to equip you for a variety of careers in the future. We place a distinctive emphasis on the combination of archaeological and historical approaches in the study of the ancient world, and the range of expertise available ensures that a wide choice of periods, countries and cultures may be studied. To a large extent you can build your own degree through choice from the options available.

Why study this course

At Birmingham, you will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our distinctive degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice. Our teaching and research covers a vast range of interdisciplinary topics, with period specialisms ranging from the Neolithic and Bronze Age of Britain and north-west Europe, to classical Greek and Roman societies and early medieval states in Europe and the Mediterranean.

One of the highlights of your degree programme will be a real voyage of discovery to Italy, Greece, ,  Turkey, or somewhere else in Europe or North Africa that is relevant to your studies in the two-week unique study tour you will undertake at Easter in your second year. A small group of you with similar interests will be guided by us in planning your own personal tours, setting objectives to inform your individual projects and carrying them out to present a lucid and lively academic report on what you have seen, experienced and discovered. This tour is subsidised by the university.

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham has been ranked among the top five Russell Group departments of Classics in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.


First year

This year you gain a firm grounding in the archaeology of Britain and the Mediterranean world through introductory lecture courses. You will also take an option in the history of either Greece and Rome or Egypt and the ancient Near East. Small-group project work will allow you to study a particular aspect of the ancient world in greater detail and to develop your research skills. You also gain practical experience through archaeological field training.

Archaeology and Ancient History (VVC4): selected module descriptions year 1 

Second year

A special feature of the second year is the study tour abroad, a research project undertaken with financial support from the University. Further field training is also an option.

Third year

You again choose either an archaeological core module or a historical one, investigating either Egypt and Western Asia or Greece and Rome (whichever wasn’t taken in year 2). You also make your choice from a wide range of options. The highlight of the final year is your dissertation: a substantial research project on a subject of special interest to you.

Archaeology and Ancient History (VVC4): selected module descriptions years 2 and 3

Year Abroad 

Students who have achieved grades of 2.1 or above in their first year will have the opportunity to take a year abroad between their second and final year at one of a wide range of carefully selected partner institutions from around the world. In addition to the tutor support given from the host University, students who choose to take a Year Abroad will be allocated a member of staff from the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology who will monitor their progress while overseas through email and Skype contact. 

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
Learn more about our scholarships and awards 

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

You can study Archaeology and Ancient History as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

The majority of you will have chosen to study subjects with us which you have had little chance to explore at School or College, and which, therefore, will be new and exciting ways of understanding ancient civilizations. These will include primary sources such as Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Classical texts which have survived to the modern day or the monuments and objects which the members of those civilizations themselves created – a steadily growing resource as new discoveries are made.

Your learning with us will be your own voyage of discovery. This will be through small group projects in the first year, seminars in the second and third years and a dissertation in the third. In each year you will be guided in your learning by an expert in the subjects you have chosen and you will learn to research a variety of different source materials, to analyse them, to construct a coherent arguments and to present the story orally or in writing. 

Your first year is the foundation of everything which you will achieve with us. In your first year you will be introduced to the University of Birmingham’s principles of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL).  We will guide you in methods of research, give you feedback on each task, help you improve your style of writing and your use of referencing.  We will show you how to examine the views of scholars critically as well the evidence they have used and you will use to construct your stories about each task. Gradually, you will come to rely on the evidence you have found for yourselves and the judgements you have formed about it more than the text books you started with. Soon it will be natural to question rather than accept, to argue your own theories and to be unafraid to disagree with us as well as your classmates. The lectures will be led by experts in their field who will provide the background to your own discoveries, the background which is itself based on the latest research and discovery.  Lectures will be supported by discussion classes to provide the background to your understanding of the subject area.

You will also gain practical experience in a three week period of practical fieldwork at the end of the summer term in your first year. This provides a unique opportunity to understand the methods of archaeology in the field and to work as a team under the guidance of our expert archaeologists – and quite possibly to contribute to our knowledge with your own discoveries.

One of the highlights of your degree programme will be a real voyage of discovery – to Italy, Greece, Egypt or elsewhere - in the two week Study Tour you will undertake at Easter in your second year.  A small group of you with similar interests will be guided by us in planning your own personal tours, in setting objectives to inform your individual projects – and carrying them out in order to present a lucid and lively academic report on what you have seen, experienced and discovered.

As your personal tutors, we will discuss with you individually your progress in general and identify strengths to build on – or weaknesses to be addressed. We will help you develop transferable skills as well assist you with welfare issues if necessary.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.


Graduates in Archaeology, like all arts and humanities students, develop a wide range of skills that are highly attractive to employers. Studying archaeology involves analysing evidence of human activity throughout human history. This helps the development of skills in research and analysis of complex information, working independently and as part of a team, and articulate communication of judgements and arguments. Archaeology study material remains in addition to other sources such as written evidence, and use scientific principles and concepts. You will have the opportunity to carry out self-directed project work which helps self-management, organisation and research skills.??? go on to careers in a wide range of areas such as law, business, education and the media, with employers including central and local government, museums, cultural and heritage organisations, charities and a range of commercial companies. Specific jobs include PR and communications, human resources, legal work, library work, events planning and tourism.

The skills of an ancient historian ? research, analysis, organisation, self-management and reasoning ? are highly attractive to employers. Our graduates are also capable of working independently and as part of a team, and eloquently articulating judgments and arguments, which makes them highly sought-after employees.

BA Archaeology and Ancient History graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of graduates going into professional or managerial roles within six months of graduation. The University of Birmingham has graduate employment rates for archaeology and ancient history graduates above the national average and in the top 10 for the subject from UK universities. Graduates from these subject areas go into a wide variety of career areas including law, education, professional archaeology, museums and curatorial work and business. Jobs taken have included even planning, recruitment consultant, library work, human resources and PR.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to our graduates, including our ‘Careers in Heritage, Museums and History’ event.

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, law marketing and working with charities. The newly developed optional professional skills module allows students in their second year to gain experience in a working environment which can lead to the development of further valuable skills. Placements are offered with the support of local employers, and we are developing links with heritage and cultural organisations to create more opportunities for students.

In addition, our students are encouraged to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.