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Archaeological Practice (2 year degree)

BA (Hons)

School - School of Environment & Life Sciences

Subject area - Archaeology

UCAS Code: V460

Start Date(s): September


Two years full-time


UK - £9,250 per year

In Brief:

  • A highly practical, relevant and unique intensive 2-year degree, designed & delivered by commercial and academic archaeologists
  • Complete your degree in a shorter time, allowing you to progress more quickly into work or further study
  • The core fieldwork component is undertaken during an intensive five week summer residential field school
  • Provides you with current industry appropriate skills required within the professional archaeology sector

Course Summary

Whilst covering the same content as a traditional three year undergraduate degree, the Archaeological Practice degree is taught over three trimesters rather than two semesters, utilising your summers for fieldwork. This more intense mode of study means that you can complete your degree in a shorter period of time, therefore allowing you to progress more quickly into work or further study.

You will be taught by expert archaeologists from Salford Archaeology (a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Registered Archaeological Organisation) and heritage management professionals from the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service, ensuring degree content is relevant to the current archaeological sector.

As each module has been designed with your employability in mind there is an emphasis on practical learning throughout the degree with lectures backed up by regular applied hands-on experiences, both in the lab and the field. Ensuring your learning remains contemporary and relevant is essential and you will be taken on frequent external visits to commercially active archaeological sites throughout this course with supporting lectures from external industry specialists.

The core fieldwork component is undertaken during an intensive five week summer residential field school, where you will enhance your practical skills in onsite excavation and will include photography, illustration, artefact handling, geophysical survey, topographic survey and 3D Laser Scanning.  

If you want an accelerated, highly practical, industry-focused degree, which will equip you with the skills for entrance into professional archaeology then this is the degree for you.

Beth Peter excavating

"The course material is wonderful, and the staff make everything easy to understand and fun to do. You wont be able to find a course that gives you experience like this anywhere else."

Elizabeth Peter
Archaeology and Geography with Professional Practice

Course Structure

Year 1 provides a solid foundation across the breadth of the subject, through regular lectures, workshops, seminars, field trips and laboratory work we will introduce you to the concepts and principles of archaeology, building up your knowledge base and providing you with the skills to undertake the intensive 5 week residential field course module in the summer. The second year will build on the practical skills you have learnt, focusing upon developing your knowledge, understanding and critical analysis of the subject material through a range of inter connecting modules. Ultimately providing you with the appropriate skills and experiences necessary for employment within the current archaeological or heritage sectors.

Year 1  

You will take a weekly one hour tutorial with a member of academic staff in a group of 6-8 students. The module develops your academic skills and helps you develop your personal and professional skills for study and for work in industry. You will work on a range of archaeological management problems linked to the core first year modules. The tutorials involve discussion, debate, and problem-solving, and provide you with a regular forum for monitoring your progress.      
The first part of this module provides you with the applied skills to manage and analyse data using descriptive statistics, inference, graphs, hypothesis testing, and correlation and regression. It also introduces information searching and retrieving skills, data presentation and report writing. The second part of the module involves a residential field course in the UK where you will collect, analyse and present data to put into practice what you have learned.      
Designed as an introduction to the discipline, with a focus on the key principles and practices of archaeology. You will be taken through the process of archaeological fieldwork from locating and interpreting sites, to the exploration of sites through geophysical and other survey methods, through to excavation and post-excavation processing and archiving of finds and ultimate final analysis. With a focus on preparing you for the fieldwork intensive modules in the summer.You will:        
  • Develop familiarity with current industry based equipment, methodologies, and techniques, including the processing and interpretation of data in archaeology          
  • Undertake regular practical hands-on workshops and attend demonstrations and lectures from industry professionals in their specialist areas of expertise          
  • Visit a range of active commercial archaeological sites          
A lab based, hands on module that will introduce you to a range of artefacts and materials ranging from prehistoric to modern in date. You will learn how to identify, date and record artefacts from archaeological sites, whilst also developing knowledge in finds conservation and curatorship. The course will help you to develop a variety of skills including:        
  • Finds processing skills including washing, handling, storing, cataloging and recording artefact assemblages          
  • Analytical skills involving the study of a wide range of materials and artefacts from different periods and regions in the UK          
  • Practical skills including how to draw artefacts to publication standard and finds photography          
This module introduces you to the archaeology of the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD. The emphasis is on the way in which the western Empire functioned and Britain’s place within that structure. This will include studies on the army, frontier development, transport infrastructure, trade, town and country, death and burial, architecture and engineering, and the exploitation of natural resources. The module will look at excavations and buildings case studies, as well as palaeo-environmental work and contemporary relevant texts such as the Vindolanda tablets’.      
This module provides a period-by-period introduction to British archaeology.   Starting with the origins of archaeology as a subject and its fundamental concepts and issues, the module looks at the material evidence for our earliest ancestors through to later Prehistory, the early historic periods, the medieval, the post-medieval, the industrial revolution and the archaeology of the last 300 years. This module will provide you with:        
  • A working knowledge of the periods and the variety of archaeology you are expected to handle when working in Britain as a professional archaeologist          
  • Familiarity with key sites, regional patterning in archaeological evidence, as well as current thinking and debates about the past          
  • Fieldtrips exploring the urban environments of Manchester and the rural environments of the Peak District          
This module is the core of the degree. An external field school within the UK held during the summer at the end of your first year will be an excellent opportunity for you to put into practice all the skills you have learnt. Run like a commercial archaeological project by professional field archaeologists from Salford Archaeology you will undertake a full range of techniques on a live research project, including:        
  • Using GPS, total stations for topographic survey, 3D Laser scanning and geophysical survey instruments          
  • Developing the various excavation skills, finds retrieval, environmental sampling, site photography, technical drawing and recording          
  • Commercial site working practices such as site etiquette, health and safety, and safely working around and with excavation machines          
  • Your assessment will be a portfolio of your onsite work undertaken during the field school          

Year 2  

This module will give an overview of current professional practice and the issues surrounding the management of the historic environment in Britain. You will gain a practical understanding of the archaeological needs and requirements of developers, local planning authorities, contracting archaeologists and curatorial archaeologists alike. Set against the history and development of the ‘heritage industry’, you will learn about the current legislative and planning frameworks for archaeology in the UK. The role of archaeology, its various stakeholders and current trends and issues in heritage management will be explored.      
The aim of this module is to develop your knowledge and understanding of the factors controlling the design, and implementation of GIS solutions to map, monitor and model terrestrial environments. You will also examine the major issues and impacts of GIS evolution and diffusion on society.      
This module explores the character of Britain’s relationships with our neighbours along the Atlantic coastline during Prehistory. At a point in history when our relationships with Europe are being redefined, this module explores the prehistoric archaeology of that relationship.  Whilst physically isolating us from the continent, the insularisation of Britain by rising postglacial sea-levels became the context within which the dynamics of insularity were repeatedly exposed to varied contacts and interactions. Through a series of case studies drawn from different periods, from the later Mesolithic to the Iron Age, the module will look at how the prehistory of insularity and interaction shaped prehistoric Britain.      
Not all archaeology is below ground. This module will explore historic buildings within the UK throughout the ages. Providing you with an appreciation for the differing fabrics and techniques of construction whilst introducing you to the analytical process of investigating, recording and assessing the significance of historic buildings. Using traditional and modern techniques you will:        
  • Be introduced to the different specialist skills required for the recording and analysis of historic buildings          
  • Explore historic buildings within the context of current heritage and conservation practice          
  • Be introduced to the practical skills of surveying, recording, photography and technical report writing          
This module is designed to introduce you to how archaeology relates within the wider public environment; how it is communicated, represented and utilised across the world. Exploring the different methods of and allowing you to critically explore the key debates within the area. As part of the module you will:        
  • Critically explore the development and delivery of community and volunteer based archaeology          
  • Develop an understanding of the range and variety of dissemination methodologies          
  • Explore differing global political, economic and social perspectives          
  • Consider a wide range of moral and ethical issues within the wider heritage environment          
A significant amount of UK commercial archaeology deals with more recent material. This course will explore the landscape archaeology of industrialisation in Britain during the period 1600-1900 and will cover the transition from a rural, agriculturally-based, society to an urban, manufacturing-based, society and the consequent landscape changes as reflected in the archaeological record. It will explore how archaeologists not only record this evidence, typically through commercially funded work, but also use it to help understand the origins and course of the Industrial Revolution and its global consequences and is supported by field trips to key sites.The course is structured around the key elements of industrialisation:        
  • Power and mineral resources exploitation          
  • Manufacturing industries          
  • Transport systems and distribution          
  • Changing working and living conditions          
Undertaken during the summer of the second year the project based work module is undertaken by you within your specific area of interest. You will work with your module leader to develop the project, which will include you undertaking fieldwork and or data collection. Utilising and enhancing the skills you have learnt throughout your degree you will present your project in a format compatible with current industry practices and requirements.  Providing you the opportunity to undertake and demonstrate your own research whilst contributing to our understanding of the past with a unique piece of work.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
European Baccalaureate Pass in Diploma of at least 60% including at least 1 Science subject
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
English language and maths at grade C or 4 or above
UCAS tariff points 120 points History, Archaeology or Geography preferred but not essential
GCE A level 120 points History, Archaeology or Geography preferred but not essential
BTEC National Diploma DDM
Scottish Highers 120 points
Irish Leaving Certificate 120 points from Higher Level
International Baccalaureate 30 points
Access to HE Pass QAA approved access programme in Science or Health & Social Care

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We positively welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to successfully pursue a programme of study in higher education. Students who do not have the traditional entry requirements may be able to apply through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme. Support in preparing for the written assessment is available from the University.

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 5.5) is proof of this. If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our English language courses.

Applicant profile

If you want an intensive 2 year, highly practical, industry focused degree which will equip you with the skills for entrance into professional archaeology then this is the degree for you.

We want students to apply who are interested in archaeology and heritage and have a real passion for fieldwork.

We would welcome all students who are interested in archaeology and heritage particularly those who want to enter the archaeological profession. You do not have to have an A level in archaeology but one in a related subject, such as geography or history would be beneficial.

We also welcome those returning to education who are looking to retrain and gain a career in the archaeology or heritage sectors, either with Access qualifications or by taking the foundation year.

Fees and Funding


Fees 2019-20

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year

Fees 2018-19

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Part-time Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and laboratory and fieldwork  practicals. Seminars enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures in smaller groups. In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your personal tutor.

Teaching is through a combination of

  • Lectures
  • Fieldwork
  • Practical Classes
  • Group Work
  • Tutorials
  • Computer-based learning

Guided independent learning in the form of assignments and project work

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and laboratory or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities, including the library, the learning zone, and our engineering and computer laboratories.


Percentage of the course assessed by coursework

The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. The approximate percentage of the course assessed by coursework is as follows:

Level 4

90% coursework, 10% written exams,

Level 5

80% coursework, 10% written exams, 10% practical exams

Level 6

90% coursework, 10% written exams


Career Prospects

This course has been designed to provide you with a unique understanding of both archaeology and the current needs and practices of the archaeological commercial industry. Having this insight and gaining real world practical skills you will develop a range of personal and professional abilities making you highly employable within the archaeological and heritage sectors.

These include regular visits to commercial archaeological sites, use of the latest technology, field experience (including excavation and surveying), artefact handling and analysis, report writing, presentation, the ability to interpret data and the application of IT, group work and the development of team working and project management skills.

Archaeology graduates can expect to find career paths into professional archaeology companies and charities, environmental and construction consultancies, local authority based heritage planning, museums, conservation, construction and further higher education.


The Centre for Applied Archaeology houses Salford Archaeology and the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service.  Its aims can be split into three separate areas, to conduct commercial archaeological projects, to manage, conduct and promote community archaeology/public heritage engagement and to undertake training, teaching, research and publication.  In developing this holistic approach the Centre aims to provide the means by which these three individual heritage sectors can effectively deliver, interact and collaborate together.

Students will have an unrivalled access to a wide range of experienced professional staff alongside industry based specialist equipment such as Drones, Survey and Geophysical Equipment, 3D Scanners and computing software.

Volunteering Opportunities

The Centre assists with the running of the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation. A collective of independent local archaeological and heritage groups. We will be able to facilitate any volunteering opportunities (particularly fieldwork) you would like to participate in addition to your course.

Salford Archaeology regularly undertake community archaeology projects as part of their work.  You will be given the opportunity to volunteer on these projects in addition to your course should you wish to gain as much practical experience as possible.

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