The subjects of Anthropology and Archaeology are very closely linked and are an ideal combination for students who have a deep interest in the past, the way human cultures lived and developed, the way societies developed and grew and the way our land was inhabited.

This programme is studied on campus.

The scope of contemporary anthropology is reflected in the way the subject is taught at Aberdeen. To study the subject here is to join in an exciting new intellectual venture. We offer an innovatory programme, with the emphasis throughout on work at the cutting edge of the discipline and on problems of pressing concern for people the world over.

You will benefit from the close links with other programmes, such as those in History and Sociology, from the resources of the University's Marischal Museum and Elphinstone Institute, with their unique anthropological and ethnological collections and above all from the opportunity to study in an environment where staff and research students are actively engaged in top-class, internationally recognised research. While Aberdeen's contribution to the anthropology of the North is second to none, we are also developing exciting new research in the fields of art, visual perception, museums, material culture and religion.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Academic Writing for Social Sciences (AW1006)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.

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Introduction to Anthropology: Peoples of the World (AT1003) - Credits: 15

Anthropology is the comparative study of human ways of life through the study of societies and cultures around the world. In this course we introduce some of the key topics of contemporary anthropological inquiry: What is Anthropology? What do anthropologists do? What is ethnography? How can we see the diverse world of societies and cultures around us, not by looking from the outside, but by looking at how people themselves make their own lives and meanings?

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Archaeology in Action: an Introduction (AY1003) - Credits: 15

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.

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Introduction to Anthropology: Questions of Diversity (AT1502) - Credits: 15

In this course students will be offered an extended introduction to social anthropology and will focus on topics: language and culture, belief and religion, gender and sex, kinship, and race. Students will develop and refine their understanding of major issues in the discipline of social anthropology through staff lectures, tutorials, and ethnographic films.

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Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (AY1503) - Credits: 15

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, ritualstic 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,

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Political Anthropology (AT2005) - Credits: 15

How do human beings relate to one another at a communal level? What holds human societies together? This course examines the basic forms of human solidarity that anthropologists have identified that bind us together as people: race, class, ethnicity, kinship, gender. In each case, these core ideas will be examined not just as descriptions of social life, but as forms of power and identity. The course introduces students to what these terms mean, how they have been used in understanding human societies, and what they look like in a cross-cultural context.

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Anthropological Approaches to Religion (AT2006) - Credits: 15

This course helps students to understand critically the phenomenon of religion. There are two main aims. Firstly, four contrasting approaches to religion that have been influential in anthropology and beyond will be introduced. These include religion as a social phenomenon, religion as a cultural phenomenon, Marxist perspectives on religion, and religion as embodied experience. Secondly, students themselves will engage with the question of what religion is, compare and contrast different answers to this question, and develop their own, informed, understanding.

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Interpreting the Past (AY2005) - Credits: 15

The societies that we study as archaeologists are often long since vanished. How can we reliably interpret these past societies? And what influences do modern moral and ethical issues have on our views of the past? This course explores the theoretical and ethical frameworks that archaeologists use to understand the past, using lectures and interactive seminars to illustrate and debate the limits of inference and the ethical and political issues that impact on how we understand the past.

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Test Tubes and Trowels: an Introduction to Archaeological Science (AY2006) - Credits: 15

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.

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Reimagining Colonialism (AT2515) - Credits: 30

This course will explore contemporary colonial expressions from an anthropological perspective. It will be split into two main themes: Material Histories; and Mediated Histories. Within these themes it will address topics such as the "capturing" of cultures in museums, kinship and politics, gendered colonialism, economic development, media, aboriginal rights and contemporary resistance movements.

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Archaeologies of Social Life (AY2503) - Credits: 15

The study of the past can sometimes feel impersonal, a matter of empires, civilisations and cultures, but archaeology also has a marvellous potential to access the real lives of ancient individuals. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the exploration of social lives in the (pre)historic past, using lectures and seminars to illustrate how material culture can tell us about even the most intimate aspects of our ancestors. Among the topics will be issues of ancient identity, ideology, religion, sexuality and environment.

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The Archaeology of The North: Lifeways & Cultural Change (AY2505) - Credits: 15

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. Practicals in the course will include hands-on introduction to traditional skills such as flint knapping, tool manufacture and use of an atlatl.

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Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Anthropological Theory (AT3027) - Credits: 30

This course explores theoretical issues and key debates in contemporary anthropology. We begin with the questioning of the central concepts of culture and society in anthropology during the 1980s. Following this, we ask: how can anthropology proceed if the targets of its investigation can no longer be understood as objective entities? How can anthropology proceed if the anthropologist themselves is inevitably implicated in and part of those very targets? To look for possible answers, the course examines current anthropological interest in power and history, political economy and phenomenology, experience, embodiment and practice, ontology and things that speak.

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Professional Archaeology i: Field Methods (AY3010) - Credits: 15

We only have three days to find out! Excavation and field survey in modern archaeology can lead to spectacular discoveries regarding our past. This course, built around a short fieldschool and follow-up practicals and classes, will introduce and develop key skills in field archaeology, including excavation, field survey and sampling. Students will go through the whole process of designing, carrying out and reporting on a site and landscape in a course that will provide invaluable professional development.

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Professional Archaeology II: Post - Excavation Analysis and Employment (AY3514) - Credits: 15

Lectures and laboratory practicals will provide experience in the techniques used to process and analyse archaeological artefacts and samples. We will introduce analytical basics for lithic, ceramic, faunal and historic artefact analysis as well as techniques for conserving, cataloguing and curating archaeological collections. This course also introduces practical skills required to obtain employment and placement in an archaeological workplace through practical exercises in writing CVs, job cover letters and job interview skills.

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Optional Courses

  • Select Archaeological Research Project Part I (AY3512) if taking Dissertation in Archaeology inFourth Year.
  • Select further credit points from Anthropology and Archaeology Level 3 courses to gain 60 credits in each.
Archaeological Research Project Part i (AY3512) - Credits: 15

This course is the first stage in producing an archaeological dissertation, which is completed in Level 4. Lectures and practical training sessions introduce the theory and practice of archaeological research design. As the course progresses the student puts this into practice through the development of their own original research project, its presentation at a research seminar, and the submission of a full research proposal, which they subsequently take forward as their dissertation. A personal supervisor is identified and provides support, in addition to the other lecturers involved in delivering the lectures and skills training.

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Year 4

Optional Courses

One of the following options:

Option 1

  • Current Issues in Archaeology (AY4510)
  • Select further credit points from Anthropology and Archaeology Level 4 courses to gain 60 credits in each.

Option 2

  • Archaeological Research Project Part II (AY4002) with Archaeological Research Project Part I (AY3512) as prerequisite
  • Select further credit points from Anthropology and Archaeology Level 4 courses to gain 60 credits in each.
Independent Study In Anthropology (AT4036) - Credits: 30

This course is open to joint honours students in anthropology. Having chosen a topic for their study, students will be allocated a supervisor and carry out readings, research and writing under the guidance of their supervisor. Students will write a 10,000-word dissertation based on library research.

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Archaeological Research Project Part II (AY4002) - Credits: 30

Building directly on the skills learnt in AY3512, the student undertakes an original research project, under the guidance of their personal supervisor and course co-ordinator, and at the end of the course submits an archaeological dissertation. The session begins with a research seminar when students present how their research has progressed over the summer and what they will now be doing to complete it.

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Current Issues in Archaeology (AY4510) - Credits: 30

Archaeology is a contemporary discipline and the focus in archaeological questions, subject areas and theoretical debates constantly change with time. In this course we focus on some of the topics that are important for the ongoing research within our department, from domestication and climate change to community archaeology and relating to death. The different issues are discussed in text-based seminars, where the students themselves are responsible for presenting the topic and leading the seminars. The course aims to explore and challenge current trends in the archaeological discourse.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • 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.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

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

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Anthropology and Archaeology?

  • Aberdeen is one of the fastest growing Anthropology departments in the UK.
  • Our core staff specialise in regions as diverse as Canada, the Central Asian Republics, Iceland and Scandinavia, Siberia, Scotland and the UK, South America, Tibet and the Himalayas.
  • We offer innovative ideas and a fresh vision of the subject, with an emphasis throughout on work at the cutting-edge of the discipline and research.
  • A vibrant student anthropology society regularly organizes academic and social events bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate students with staff outside the classroom.
  • 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.
  • Excellent laboratory facilities and library holdings. Opportunities to participate in outstanding national and international Department-led excavations and field research projects from Aberdeenshire to Alaska.

Entry Requirements

You will find all the information you require about entry requirements on our dedicated 'Entry Requirements' page. You can also find out about the different types of degrees, changing your subject, offers and advanced entry.


SQA Highers - AABB
A Levels - BBB
IB - 32 points, including 5,5,5 at HL
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

Further detailed entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Tuition fee rates can be found on our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,000
All Students
International Students £13,800
Students admitted in 2016/17
International Students £14,300
Students admitted in 2017/18

Additional Fees

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

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate Open Day

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  • Archaeologist.
  • Museum and Gallery Curation.
  • International Development.
  • Education, Research and Consultancy.

Our Experts

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; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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Top in Scotland for Anthropology

Source: National Student Survey 2016

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Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

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Contact Details

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

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