Certificate in Archaeology, Certificate

Certificate in Archaeology, Certificate


Archaeology is the only discipline that studies the human past in its entirety; from the origins of our species to the events of yesterday. Archaeology at Aberdeen has a special northern focus that is unique in the UK. Through lectures, field and laboratory work you will engage with the archaeology of Scotland, Scandinavia, northern Europe, the North Atlantic and northern latitudes of Asia and North America. You will be taught by internationally acclaimed researchers.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
Online Learning
Degree Qualification
24 months
Study Mode
Part Time
Start Month

The Certificate in Archaeology combines elements of the humanities, social sciences and sciences. Courses will cover subjects such as the origins of modern humans, the prehistory of Britain, lifeways and culture changes in the northern world as well as Scottish archaeology. What is more, through the university’s online platform, the Certificate offers flexibility for students who have other day-time commitments or who live away from Aberdeen.

In seeking to understand how ancient people lived their lives, structured their world, and engaged with their environment, archaeologists ask the big questions that can provide us with the tools to tackle modern day issues such the effects of climate change, designing the ‘perfect’ diet, or investigating the spread of epidemics.

You will enjoy a special, warm welcome at the University of Aberdeen and benefit from excellent teaching, the international impact of our research, and a global experience as part of our friendly and vibrant international community. More information about archaeology at Aberdeen can be found through the Department of Archaeology website.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Archaeology in Action (AY1004)

15 Credit Points

This course provides an introduction to how archaeological discoveries are made, the types of questions we can ask about past human societies using the evidence of their material remains, and the range of methods that archaeologists can draw on to try to answer the questions that excite them. By visiting archaeological sites, focussing on some of the world's most spectacular archaeological discoveries, and discussing some of the department's own original research projects, we will explore what the discipline of archaeology adds to our understanding of the human past and present, and what tools and techniques archaeologists employ in different environments.

Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (AY1504)

15 Credit Points

This course provides a romping introduction to the deep human past, from our earliest hominin origins in Africa to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Europe. Along the way we will discover the key stages in the evolution of our species and what it means to be 'human', from our use of symbols to express thoughts, ritualistic behaviours to our domestication of plants and animals and militarized empires. The archaeological evidence for these fundamental transitions in human societies provides us with powerful insights into some of the world's most fascinating civilizations,

Prehistoric Britain: from Boxgrove to Bede (AY2010)

15 Credit Points

Britain has been inhabited by humans for more than half a million years. This course provides an introduction to the peoples and societies that have occupied this island from the first pioneer populations to the dawn of history.

Past Lives (AY2509)

15 Credit Points

Archaeology is ultimately the study of human social lives. This course provides students with a detailed introduction to archaeological approaches to the study of human society. Through case studies and key texts we will investigate how archaeology can generate detailed insights into the richness and diversity of the diverse human communities and individuals of the past.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Test Tubes and Trowels: an Introduction to Archaeological Science (AY2008)

15 Credit Points

Ever wondered how Archaeologists know what Neandertals ate, or what killed Ötzi the Iceman? Test Tubes & Trowels provides an accessible overview of the key scientific approaches used in modern archaeology to better understand archaeological sites and materials and to reconstruct past lives. Using a combination of lectures and practical workshops, the course will cover scientific methods of dating, artefact provenancing and ancient technologies, methods used for the study of diet, health, and movements of humans and animals in the past, and the identification of the environmental impacts of past human activities.

The Archaeology of The North: Lifeways & Cultural Change (AY2507)

15 Credit Points

This course is a detailed introduction to the ecological, economic and spiritual dimensions to the archaeology of the northern world. Lectures will draw on a series of case-studies to examine the human adaptations to northern landscapes, ritual and spirituality, and finally the impact of colonisation and contact upon northern cultures.

Optional Courses

Select EITHER:

  • AY3022 Advanced Archaeological Science OR AY3020 Scottish Archaeology


  • AY3517 Archaeology of Landscapes OR AY3522 Historical Archaeology
Archaeologies of Landscape (AY3517)

15 Credit Points

Landscapes may be quantitative or qualitative; they can be explored with scientific instruments, using our bodies or in our imagination. This course investigates the key concept of landscape and its relationship to archaeological research across a broad range of cultural and historical contexts. The course is organized around thematic lectures and culminates in an interactive 3-day study trip to the Orkney Isles.

Historical Archaeology (AY3522)

15 Credit Points

What can archaeology tell us about the lives of people who lived in times and places dominated by written records? Contrary to popular perception 'history' is not all in the books! Historical Archaeology provides us with an alternative means of studying historical people, periods and places through the things that people left behind. If historians study historic documents to shed light on the past, historical archaeologists use artefacts and information from the natural environment to do this. Students who take this course will not only learn the methods of historical archaeology but how they can be applied to some of the most significant issues to have shaped the medieval and modern periods; from diet and disease to social status and gender; and from the rise of nations and nationalism to capitalism and globalisation.

Advanced Archaeological Science (AY3022)

15 Credit Points

Scientific methods are integral to the modern field of archaeology and are drawn from across the spectrum of the natural, chemical, biological, physical and computational sciences. Divided into three 'mini-modules', this course focuses on advanced themes and approaches in archaeological science. Topics offered will vary year-on-year and may include topics such as GIS, quantitative archaeology, materials analyses, biomolecular archaeology, zooarchaeology, human osteoarchaeology and environmental archaeology. Selected topics will be explored through lectures, seminars and practical/workshop sessions, providing an overview of each research area, its relevance to archaeology, scope, potential and limitations.

Scottish Archaeology (AY3020)

15 Credit Points

Here in Scotland we have a world-class record of past human society. From the spectacularly preserved Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae to 19th century clearance villages, this course explores the broad sweep of Scottish prehistoric and historic archaeology. In lectures and a day long study trip students will get an in-depth insight into the archaeology of Scotland and will explore some of the major issues in human history: the origins of agriculture and monumentality, worldview and belief in the north, settlement and social structure, urbanism and the emergence of the modern world.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to change. Further information about potential changes can be viewed here.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • E-learning
  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Please note: Final examinations must be taken either on-campus or at an approved location off-campus at the same time,

Why Study Certificate in Archaeology?

    • This Certificate programme provides an excellent introduction to the field of Archaeology, for those wishing to gain a critical understanding of the foundations of the discipline or those who want to explore a general interest.
    • The possibility of online learning offers flexibility for students who have other day-time commitments or who live away from Aberdeen.  You also have the choice to take you classes and labs on campus alongside other students.
    • Archaeology at Aberdeen has a northern focus unique in the UK, covering the heritage of Scotland, Scandinavia, northern Europe, the North Atlantic and the northern latitudes of Asia and North America.
    • Aberdeen is at the heart of a region that is among the richest in the UK in terms of sites of outstanding archaeological interest and is in close proximity to the World Heritage sites in Orkney.
    • Opportunities to participate in outstanding national and international department-led field research projects, from Aberdeenshire to Alaska, and receive practical training in survey, excavation and documentation methods.
    • Field-based teaching and study visits to local archaeological sites, monuments and museums.
    • Strong interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the strengths of related academic subjects across the University within the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences.
    • Excellent laboratory facilities, outstanding museum collections and exhibitions, and the award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with its atmospheric study environment, state-of-the-art technology and extensive collection of Archaeology books and journals.
    • Research-active staff among the world-leaders in their fields.
    • Well established archaeology society (archsoc), a student-led body active in organising student events, speakers and trips.
    • A packed campus programme of public events, exhibitions, seminars, café debates, including the annual May Festival, British Science Week and the Being Human Festival – all welcoming internationally acclaimed experts, authors, and broadcasters, and showcasing Aberdeen research and discoveries in archaeology.  

Entry Requirements

Applicants applying within 5 years of leaving school will normally be expected to produce evidence of at least four Higher passes at grade B or better, BBB at A Level, an HNC with at least a B in the graded unit, or equivalent qualifications. For entrance to the Sciences these would include a good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.

For candidates who left school more than 5 years ago a minimum of four qualifications with evidence of high achievement should still be presented, but professional, work based qualifications, Open University or Access courses may be offered in lieu of Highers/A-Levels. Students applying for counselling skills should be aware that relevant work experience in the caring professions will also be taken into consideration - as a partial requirement alongside qualifications.

Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the University Admissions team.


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants

Should your programme necessitate a visit to the University you may find the following information helpful.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Students Domiciled in Scotland £225
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year Fees are charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.
Students Domiciled Outside Scotland £860
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year Fees are charged on a modular basis. The fee quoted is per 15 credits.

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Image for useful fact about this Degree

World-leading research

90% of Archaeology research at Aberdeen was ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent by REF 2021.

Our Experts

Head of Department
Dr Gordon Noble
Programme Coordinator
Dr Jeff Oliver
Programme Leader
Dr Kate Britton

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX

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