Why choose Archaeology?

Interested in the earthworks on the golf course? Archaeology is the subject that studies the latter in order to provide answers to the former. It is the subject that has taken the story of mankind back to the Ice Age and beyond using simply what people left behind, whether it is their skeletons or their knives and forks. We teach the course by looking at a huge range of periods and sites. 

British prehistory and historical archaeology are covered, everything from the Palaeolithic period all the way through to the Middle Ages. There is the unfamiliar, such as the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae up in Orkney; Glastonbury Lake Village, dating from the Iron Age; and the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy in Lincolnshire. There is also the familiar, such as Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall and Sutton Hoo. We also look further afield, by studying not only Pompeii but also the Mayan village of Ceren in El Salvador, which was also buried by volcanic ash. We look at the wonderful Palaeolithic cave paintings from Spain and France and the remarkable excavations at Abu Hureyra in Syria that have told us so much about the origins of agriculture. 

There is even an entire unit on the Ancient Egyptians! You will learn how archaeologists work – how they excavate and how finds are studied and interpreted. You will have a chance to debate some of the tough ethical issues that they face these days regarding, for instance, the display of human remains such as those of Otzi the Iceman, or the ownership of the Elgin Marbles. Above all, though, you will learn about the lives of our remote ancestors whether they are peasants or kings, Aztecs or Vikings. We look at topics such as how people fed themselves, how they manufactured tools, what settlements they lived in, how the roles of men and women differed and how they buried their dead.

As an Archaeology student you will develop a variety of skills including powers of observation, the ability to understand maps and diagrams, an understanding of basic science and statistical representations, IT skills, and essay/report writing. There is a balance of assessment including examinations and coursework. 

As part of the course you will have the opportunity to experience at first hand some aspects of the excavation processes that you are learning about and to undertake a personal study on an archaeological topic of your choice. We organize fieldwork with our local field unit and trips to sites and museums like West Stow and to Sutton Hoo, the royal Anglo- Saxon burial ground. Each year there is a summer residential visit to some well-known sites in the UK. You do not have to become an archaeologist just because you have studied the subject (although it is a very useful subject to have if you have plans in that direction); the study of archaeology tends to produce versatile students equipped for careers far beyond the subject itself.

Entry Requirements

GCSE grade B in English Language or Literature

Awarding Body


Units of Study

AS Level

Archaeology - Unit 1

The nature of the religions and rituals of past societies with a special study of the culture of Ancient Egypt.

Archaeology - Unit 2

How archaeologists go about their work: This includes a study of the techniques used in surveying and excavation as well as those related to the post excavation process, such as dating.

A2 Level

Archaeology - Unit 3

A study of various themes from world archaeology: how people settled landscapes, the development of societies, and past economies and material culture. You will also study various issues to do with archaeology today such as who owns the past and human evolution.

Archaeology - Unit 4

An archaeological investigation: a personal study of your own choice.