Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of human societies – from prehistory to the recent past. Archaeology covers a huge range of topics, spanning the evolution of humans through the development of farming, ancient civilisations and world empires, as well as the role of material culture in human life and of heritage in modern societies.

Archaeology is a broad subject, with topics ranging across the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. Students can follow several streams – Archaeology (covering all world cultures), Biological Anthropology, Egyptology and Assyriology. Its flexibility means you can either specialise from Year 1, or opt for a broad start before concentrating on up to two subjects from the second year.
 
  • Archaeology uses material evidence to explore the nature and development of particular societies and to explain the variations and commonalities of the human past.
  • Assyriology is the study of the languages, cultures, history and archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria).
  • Egyptology is the study of the history, languages, society, archaeology and religion of ancient Egypt.
  • Biological Anthropology explores human evolution, biology and behaviour, and the interaction between biology and culture.

With the Division of Archaeology and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge is one of the largest centres of archaeological research in Britain.

Archaeology students at Cambridge benefit from access to world-class collections in Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology  and the Fitzwilliam Museum, among others. Additional resources include the Haddon Library, devoted to undergraduate teaching in the subject, and area research centres.  

Academic Requirements:

Archaeology spans a very broad subject area, and the course allows study of topics ranging across the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. Students with almost any combination of subjects can apply; there are no specific required or recommended courses. We welcome applications from students studying humanistic fields such as History, English, Classics, and ancient languages, social sciences such as Geography, Sociology, Psychology, or Anthropology, and sciences such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Applicants for Egyptology and Assyriology are strongly encouraged to study an ancient or modern language.

What we are looking for:

We seek students who are curious, who enjoy reading and debating ideas, and who wish to engage in hands-on study of artefacts in our museums and/or to experience archaeological fieldwork and laboratory work.

Interviews:

Candidates who are invited to interview will be asked to send in advance two pieces of written work in a subject of their choice.

If you are invited to interview, there are two interviews (a subject interview and a general interview), and a written assessment in College. This hour-long assessment is designed to assess the ability to interpret texts and to write. Specifications of the written assessment can be found here.

At interview, engagement with and enthusiasm for the subject will be explored by the course Director of Studies and Admissions Tutor. We try to conduct our interviews in a friendly and informal manner, and you should not feel daunted by the prospect of them.

Director of Studies: Dr Corinne Duhig

Find out more about the Archaeology course on the department website, and the University Undergraduate Prospectus