BA Archaeology and Anthropology

This course, run jointly by the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, offers an integrated programme of study. It offers study in archaeological and anthropological theory, prehistory, historical archaeology, ethnography, field archaeology, physical anthropology, bioarchaeology, and material culture studies. It is designed both for future archaeologists and anthropologists, and for those seeking an exciting and dynamic non-vocational degree course.

BA Archaeology and Anthropology graduates from Birmingham enjoy a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 90% going into work or study within six months of graduation. We also have a higher than average rate of graduates going into professional or managerial roles within six months of graduation.

Course fact file

UCAS code: LV64

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 3

Applications in 2013: 37

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

Start date: September


Archaeology and Anthropology both seek to understand the nature of human societies, the material worlds they inhabit and fashion, and the extraordinary diversity of cultural life both over time and in different parts of the world.

Why study this course

The Archaeology and Anthropology degree offers an integrated programme of study in archaeological and anthropological method, interpretation, prehistory, historical archaeology, ethnography, and practical archaeology. The course is run jointly by the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, who together provide an exceptionally diverse and dynamic learning environment. There is great emphasis on student choice, small-group teaching, individual research and thematic study - in areas such as landscape and environment, ritual and religion, health and disease, death and burial, urban culture, and society and economy - to reveal the variety and richness of other cultural worlds, past and present. The coverage of this programme is global, ranging from Europe to Africa, Asia and the Americas, and embraces all human cultural life from the Palaeolithic to the present day.

The course has exceptional learning resources through access to the Danford collection of African art and artefacts, the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology Museum, environmental and material culture teaching collections, and many nationally- and internationally-important art and artefact collections within the University of Birmingham and beyond. You will be able to learn practical skills in material culture studies, field archaeology, ethnography and digital heritage in a wide range of classes, and you will have many opportunities for carrying out individual research on topics that interest you.

This unique degree is 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, government, environmental agencies and development organisations. The programme is 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 guided by leading academics at the forefront of interdisciplinary research.

African Studies and Anthropology has been ranked second among all Area Studies departments in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. 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 (detailed descriptions: Archaeology and Anthropology)

  • Exploring Our Past introductory archaeology module, covering key approaches to archaeological investigation and interpretation)
  • Project work: two small-group seminar courses chosen from a range of about 8 special topics, such as Archaeology as Anthropology, Bog Bodies, and Mycenae.
  • Practical Archaeology
  • Anthropology and Ethnography
  • Introduction to African Environments and Societies
  • Optional module (choose from a wide range of courses, including modules such as Introduction to African Politics and Introduction to African History)

Second year (detailed descriptions: Archaeology and Anthropology)

  • Artefacts and Material Culture (20 credits: archaeology core course)
  • Archaeology in the World (20 credits: archaeology core course)
  • Seminar option: small-group seminar series, chosen from a range of about 8 period/region/thematic archaeology topics, such as Virtual Worlds, Ritual and Religion, Roman Army as a Community, and Bronze Age Europe.
  • Anthropology Debates and Controversies (40 credits: social anthropology core course)
  • Optional module (choose from a wide range of courses, including modules such as Ethnography in Practice)

Third year (detailed descriptions: Archaeology and Anthropology)

  • Archaeology dissertation (40 credits) or Anthropology dissertation (40 credits) 

The additional 80 credits required in the third year may be chosen from a wide range of archaeology and anthropology option modules. This allows students both to specialise in specific areas, periods, approaches and themes if they wish to, and also to create unique combinations of subjects for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study.

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:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

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

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 judgments 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.

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.

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.


Personal Tutor

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. 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.

Student Mentor and Buddy Scheme

Our enthusiastic established students act as mentors to our new students.  This provides you with a friendly face to help you settle in. 

Academic Writing Advisory Service

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors.  You’ll 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.

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.


[Video above - Dr Henry Chapman discusses careers and employability during the Archaeology open day presentation]

Anthropology and Archaeology graduates, like all arts and humanities students, develop a wide range of skills which are highly attractive to employers. Studying Anthropology and 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 judgments and arguments. In your Archaeology based modules you will study material remains in addition to other sources such as written evidence, and use scientific principles and concepts. You’ll have the opportunity to carry out self directed project work which helps self management, organisation and research skills.

Graduates in archaeology go on to careers in professional archaeology, museums and curatorial work, and a wide range of other professions such as education, business and industry, the Civil Service, and the media. Jobs taken by archaeology graduates include archives, conservation, heritage and museums roles, project officer and recruitment consultant. Employers of archaeology graduates include central and local government, museums, cultural and heritage organisations, charities and a range of commercial companies

The University's Careers Network will provide you with tailored support during and after your course. This includes individual careers advice and events to give an insight into professions and employers including our annual 'Careers in heritage, archaeology and museums' event. We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, law, marketing and working with charities, all of which can be of interest to archaeology students. The newly developed optional professional skills module allows students in their 2nd year to gain experience in a working environment which can lead to the development of further skills which are highly valued by employers. Placements are offered with the support of local employers. Anthropology and Archaeology students gain project management skills by planning and organising their study tours. We are developing links with heritage and cultural organisations to create more opportunities for students. 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. There is even an opportunity for students to apply for our 'Global Challenge' to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during their 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.