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.

This programme is studied on campus.

The BSc route focuses on the science side of archaeology. Courses will cover subjects such as the origins of modern humans, ancient environments, bioarchaeology, Scottish archaeology and excavation and research skills.

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 develop the practical and research skills required to work as a professional archaeologist or heritage specialist, taught and inspired by experts who are internationally recognised leaders in their fields, with many links and projects in areas of special interest overseas, such as Alaska.

The broad-based nature of your studies, opportunities, and flexibility at Aberdeen will also make you extremely attractive to employers in a wide variety of other fields including industry, commerce, and a range of other professions.

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. You will love our beautiful campus and great facilities for learning, sports and leisure, and take advantage of the many opportunities to develop extra skills and interests, and broaden your horizons through study abroad.

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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

In year 1, Archaeology will occupy one quarter of your curriculum, and in year 2 it will occupy one half. You can then choose to specialise in archaeology in years 3 and 4 undertaking a Single Honours degree or you can continue studying Archaeology and another subject in a Joint Honours degree.

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Archaeology in Action: an Introduction (AY1003) - 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.

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Caves to Kingdoms: an Introduction to Prehistoric Archaeology (AY1503) - 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, 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 90 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Prehistoric Britain: from Boxgrove to Bede (AY2009) - 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.

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

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Past Lives (AY2508) - 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.

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The Archaeology of The North: Lifeways & Cultural Change (AY2505) - 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. 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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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Plus 45 credit points from courses of choice. You are required to choose 30 credits from Discipline Breadth or Sixth Century courses across levels 3 and 4.

Professional Archaeology i: Field Methods (AY3010) - 15 Credit Points

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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Archaeological Fieldwork Portfolio (AY3011) - 15 Credit Points

During the summer after your second year of archaeology single honours students will go on a minimum of a two week long excavation. This course follows on from your field experience to help maximize the experiences and skills developed on these projects. Working with materials collected during the field project this course will develop key skills in communicating the results of field projects and the presentation of archaeological data.

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Archaeological Research Project Part i (AY3512) - 15 Credit Points

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

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

  • Plus 30 credit points from Level 3 Archaeology courses.
  • Plus 30 credit points from courses of choice.
Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

Plus 45 credit points from courses of choice. You are required to choose 30 credits from Discipline Breadth or Sixth Century courses across levels 3 and 4.

Archaeological Research Project Part II (AY4002) - 30 Credit Points

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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Bioarchaeology: Biological Approaches in Archaeology (AY4014) - 15 Credit Points

This course is portioned into three intensive short-courses, each focusing on one core biological approach used in archaeology. Topics offered will vary year to year, but may include isotope analysis; ancient DNA analysis; the study of animal and human remains; plant remains; and invertebrate, etc. 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.

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Current Issues in Archaeology (AY4510) - 30 Credit Points

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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Optional Courses

  • Plus 30 credits from Honours Archaeology (at least 15 of which from Level 4 courses).
  • Plus 15 credit points from courses of choice.

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 Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • 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 learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

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

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

Further Information

View detailed learning and assessment information for this programme

How the programme is taught

The typical time spent in scheduled learning activities (lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals), independent self-study or placement is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.

How the programme is assessed

The typical percentage of assessment methods broken down by written examination, coursework or practical exams is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.

Year 1

Learning Method
scheduled: 24%
independent: 76%
placement: 0%
written: 56%
coursework: 39%
practical: 5%

Year 2

Learning Method
scheduled: 18%
independent: 82%
placement: 0%
written: 45%
coursework: 55%
practical: 0%

Year 3

Learning Method
scheduled: 15%
independent: 85%
placement: 0%
written: 16%
coursework: 81%
practical: 3%

Year 4

Learning Method
scheduled: 8%
independent: 92%
placement: 0%
written: 9%
coursework: 88%
practical: 3%

Why Study Archaeology?

  • 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

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.


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

SQA Highers - AABB*
A Levels - BBB*
IB - 32 points, 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)*
*including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Entry is considered on an individual basis depending on prior qualifications and experience. Applicants wishing to be considered for advanced entry should contact the Director of Studies (Admissions) at our Student Recruitment and Admissions Office.

Further detailed entry requirements for 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.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £18,400
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

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.


The curriculum is designed to equip graduates with the practical and research skills required to work as professional archaeologists. The broad-based nature of the discipline enables graduates to compete strongly in the market place. The analytical and communications skills acquired by Archaeology graduates make them sought-after in a wide variety of fields including commerce, research and a range of professions.

Whatever stage you are at from first year to final year and beyond, the Careers Service can help you with career planning and offer you guidance on the way. There are many opportunities within the University of Aberdeen to gain experience and build a competitive set of skills. Enhancing your employability during your time with us is essential for your future career success.

Career Opportunities

  • Field Archaeologist
  • Heritage Volunteer
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Project Archaeologist
  • Writer

What our Alumni Say

  • Michael Stratigos
    Michael Stratigos, PhD Student at University of Aberdeen

    Michael Stratigos

    Job Details
    PhD Student , University of Aberdeen
    I ultimately settled on Aberdeen because it offered a course that seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for. A four year programme in Archaeology that had numerous opportunities to be hands-on and in the field.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Gordon Noble
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; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


  • Petrographic and stereomicroscopes
  • Palynology laboratory
  • Hydrology laboratory
  • Dirty and clean sedimentary laboratories
  • Soil chemistry laboratory
  • Bioarchaeology laboratory and faunal reference collection
  • Archaeological Chemistry laboratory
  • Trace Element Speciation Laboratory
Image for Archaeology In the News
Archaeology In the News

Archaeology In the News

Leading Pictish Archaeology in the news.

Find out more
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Archaeology Fieldwork

Archaeology Fieldwork

We encourage all of our students to participate in a University field project, although opportunities to work on approved digs and surveys outside of the University are also supported.

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Archaeology Student Society

Archaeology Student Society

A group for all those studying Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen or for anyone who has an interest in the past.

Find out more


Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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