BA (Hons) Single

Studying Archaeology at Chester puts the past in your hands. We are a small, friendly department offering a range of period-specific, thematic and practical modules with a particular focus on the archaeology of the British Isles. You will learn archaeology through lectures, seminars and discussions, workshops, field trips and practical hands-on experiences.

Why study Archaeology?

Archaeology is a fascinating, rich and rewarding subject that explores many different aspects of humankind and embraces a wide range of skills and experiences. Archaeology is all about discovering and investigating the human past, from human evolution to the present day. By studying archaeology we can find out about how people spent their lives, where they lived, the clothes they wore and the food they ate.

Archaeology can uncover the religions, burial customs and beliefs of past societies. Through artefacts and excavations, extraordinary details of the daily lives of past generations can be investigated. Archaeology offers a perspective on broad topics, such as how different societies identified and organised themselves, how they co-existed and interacted with other communities and how they perceived and used the physical landscape in which they lived.

Why study Archaeology at Chester?

Archaeology is the ideal subject of study for those that like to mix 'inside' academic work and 'outside' experiences. Our programme will provide you with a range of subject-specific skills to pursue a career or further study in archaeology or heritage. The course also offers you the chance to develop key skills such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, IT and the written and presentation skills needed to help you succeed in any other future you choose.

Many students come to us without any previous experience of studying archaeology. In Year 1, you will begin to explore the skills, methods and theories of archaeology and get a broad foundation in the archaeology of Britain in its European context, from prehistory to the modern period. In years 2 and 3, you will continue to develop more specific practical skills and also pursue your own interests through a variety of period or thematic modules, such as The Archaeology of Medieval Britain, AD 400-1500 or Death and Burial. Throughout the degree, you will be encouraged to volunteer on a range of experiences and field projects associated with the Department.


Chester is an internationally important archaeological site. This programme uses Chester and its hinterland as a model for exploring the archaeology of Britain. Our course gives a broad view of British archaeology, focusing on the historic period from the beginning of the Roman era to the present age, although the programme also offers the chance to study prehistoric Britain and consider and reflect on themes in wider European and world archaeology. Single Honours Archaeology also includes modules specifically dedicated to heritage management and theory, which offers students another perspective on how the past really does matter in the present.

The modules embrace a mixture of theory, method and practice. Professional archaeologists from Chester Archaeology (Chester City Council's archaeology service) contribute to the teaching, as do other heritage professionals. A significant amount of fieldwork training is offered, including participation in full-scale archaeological excavation.

The modules given below are the latest example of the curriculum available on this degree programme.  Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to change from time to time as part of the University’s commitment to curriculum enhancement.

Programme Structure:

It should be noted that the optional modules are subject to staff availability in any given year.

Level 4 (Year 1)

Introduction to Archaeological Practice

This module provides an introduction to archaeological methods and techniques, appropriate study and research skills and introduces archaeology as an academic discipline. There are four major themes to the module: study skills for archaeology, archaeology as a discipline including techniques and methods, practical archaeological skills and the introduction of concepts of heritage within archaeology.

An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: reading, researching and writing in archaeology and at university level, an introduction to archaeological thinking and theory, non-invasive and invasive archaeological techniques, principles of archaeological dating (both relative and absolute), archaeological recording and post-excavation analysis, methods of field survey and creating site plans, and the presentation of archaeology as heritage.


Introduction to the Archaeology of the British Isles

The module provides a contextual approach to a synoptic overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from early prehistory to the modern period. It introduces students to the field archaeology of all periods and a consideration of the key cultural and historical developments over this time. An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within this module includes: earliest prehistory, Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, the Neolithic and the rise of farming, late Iron Age Britain, Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon England, the early medieval archaeology of Western and Northern Britain, Vikings, Impact of the Norman Conquest, medieval England, Scotland and Wales in the medieval period, the Age of Transition, the archaeology of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution.


The Archaeology of the Sea and Seafaring in Britain and Ireland

This module provides an overview of the archaeological and historical evidence of Britain’s maritime heritage, from the Mesolithic to the present day. An illustrative list of topics includes the earliest sea-farers, ports and ships of the Roman Empire, maritime marauders and invaders, war on the high sea, pirates and piracy, monsters and myths of the sea, coastal and fishing communities, voyages of exploration and discovery, the maritime archaeology of the slave trade, seaborne migration and colonisation, ship technology and design, spoken and sung oral histories of the sea.


Living with the Past: An Introduction to Archaeological Heritage

This module examines the major sources, theories and practices within archaeological heritage, including conflicts and tensions. It begins with the debate surrounding the definition of heritage and its development as a concept since the 1980s, and then goes on to analyse the impact of heritage on archaeology. Issues such as political agendas, the impact of legislation, conservation and interpretation are analysed through practical applications and case studies.


Debates in World Archaeology

This module provides an overview of global archaeology, highlighting key contemporary and historical debates which have contributed towards the growth of archaeology as a discipline, including explorations of issues relating to the theoretical and methodological evolution of the subject.

An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: The Rise of Homo Sapiens (The Flores "hobbit"); Early hunter-gatherers (Etterbølle); The Introduction of Agriculture (Catal Huyuk); Early City States (Mohenjo Daro and the Indus Culture), The Archaeology of Islands (Easter Island/ Rapanui); Archaeology and History (Williamsburg).


Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Celts: Introduction to European Classical Archaeology

This module is designed to give students an introduction to the archaeology of the European Classical world. It looks chronologically at the archaeological monuments, key sites and questions relating to the archaeology of Classical Greece, the Etruscan and Roman world and the Celts of Northern Europe. Within the module, students are introduced to aspects of cultural, artistic, economic and social developments in these regions. The archaeology is considered in terms of wider social contexts of religion, identity and social status.

Illustrative topics of what might be covered in this module include: kings and palaces of the Minoan and Mycenean period, archaic Greece, the archaeology of Athens and the Greek city-state, the archaeology of religion, Classical art, Etruscan life and afterlife, architecture of public and private spaces in Rome, the archaeology of Roman religion, the archaeology of Celtic Iron Age Europe, and interaction and identity between the Classical world and 'barbarians.'


Level 5 (Year 2)

The Archaeology of Material Culture

This module introduces students to the study of material culture in an archaeological context. Key themes include: understanding the physical properties and manufacturing processes of a range of key materials (ceramics; glass; metalwork; organics), an appreciation of the range of techniques used in archaeology to study artefactual assemblages, deposition and post-depositional factors and theoretical approaches to material culture studies.

An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: site formation processes and the survival of material culture, distribution, communication and consumption, introduction to the study of ceramics, metalwork, coinage, bone and textiles.


Experiential Learning: Archaeology

This module gives students an opportunity for first-hand experience. Illustrative examples of experiences that might be undertaken include: excavation, finds recording and analysis, other fieldwork and placements within heritage or government archaeological bodies or museums.


Themes in British Prehistory: from Rock-Art to Hadrian's Wall

This module builds on the introduction to prehistory obtained in Level 4(Year 2) and focuses more in-depth on key research questions in British prehistory and the Roman period. The module is based on a chronological study and focuses on the wider themes of art, ritual and ideology, social and economic interaction and identity through in-depth studies of sites, monuments and artefacts.

An illustrative description of topics that might be covered includes: prehistoric rock-art and its interpretation, prehistoric monumental architecture, social stratification in prehistory, artefacts and fragmentation, deposition and hoarding in the Bronze Age, ritual deposition in the British Iron Age, the social archaeology of houses in the British Iron Age, and Romanisation and Roman-British interaction.


The Archaeology of Medieval Britain, AD400-1500

This module builds on the introduction to the medieval world (AD 400-1500) provided in Level 4 and offers a more in-depth exploration of key research questions in the study of the medieval British Isles in their European context. The module has a broad chronological framework and explores a wide range of thematic issues relating economy, religion, art and culture through in-depth studies of sites, monuments and artefacts.

An illustrative description of topics that might be covered includes: early medieval migrations, the spread of Christianity, the rise of kingship, the archaeology of feudalism, the archaeology of monasticism, and the growth of urbanism.


Recreating the Past: Archaeological Heritage Interpretation

This module addresses major themes in archaeological heritage interpretation from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. It begins with an overview on issues affecting interpretation such as political agendas, the impact of organisations and the role of value and significance. It then goes on to consider the practical implications for interpretation strategies surrounding marketing, presentation media, public archaeology, reconstruction.


Landscape Archaeology of the British Isles

This module provides an introduction to the landscape archaeology of Britain. It offers a chronological overview of the development of the British landscape and also explores the range of practical techniques and conceptual approaches to the study of landscape that characterises modern landscape archaeology.

An illustrative list of topics that may be covered within the module includes: hunter-gatherer landscapes, the open-field system, marginal landscapes, enclosure, woodland, ritual and symbolic landscapes, and the landscapes of industry.


Archaeological Skills: Tools for Research and Analysis

This module is designed to develop students' practical skills and applications in archaeological research and analysis. It builds on skills developed at Level Four and introduces more complex methods, tools for analysis and interpretation. Focus is given to acquiring key and transferable skills related to data management and analysis as well as research project design and management. Illustrative topics that might be covered include: the use of IT in archaeology, data storage and management, use and design of discipline-specific databases, use and applications of GIS in archaeology and project management and design. Within the module, students will develop a research project design that ideally will relate to a dissertation topic at Level Six.


Archaeology of Cult and Belief

This module introduces key concepts of cultural anthropology and combines this with archaeological evidence to focus on exploring the nature of cult and belief. The module looks at diverse cultural and historical contexts of cult and belief ranging from early prehistory to the modern period and will consider a range of case studies from across the globe. After introducing key concepts and ways of approaching cult and belief in both archaeology and cultural anthropology, the module will investigate a number of themes exploring the performance of rites/rituals, cultural expressions of belief, material culture and the role that cult and belief plays in society. Illustrative topics that may be explored include: animism, shamanism, taboo, magic, witchcraft, major world religions, cults, fame and the cult of personality, related heritage management issues and a range of theoretical concepts in both archaeology and anthropology.


Level 6 (Year 3)

Archaeology Dissertation

The Dissertation is a piece of work on an archaeological episode or topic chosen by the student, subject to approval by the programme leader. The student is supported through tutorial supervision meetings with a designated supervisor. Primary source material should be utilised to a significant extent. This may entail a piece of fieldwork undertaken by the student, with the findings placed in a broader interpretative and analytical context. The work may also entail a desk-based assessment or reassessment, interpretation and analysis of existing archaeological data and published sources. The use of original research, thinking and interpretation is a key element in all types of dissertation projects. The topic may relate to material discussed or explored in other modules, but may not directly mirror other module assignments or questions.


Archaeology and Contemporary Society

This module explores the role archaeology plays in contemporary society, both in a professional capacity and as a means for communicating information about the past to the general public. Topics explored include the current structure of the archaeological profession in Britain and its legislative framework, the development of academic archaeology, archaeology and the media, and careers in archaeology.


Collecting the Past: Museums and Material Culture

This module addresses major themes in the theory and practice of museum management, with specific reference to museum archaeological collections. It begins by analysing collections development and management, including issues of presentation, and then goes on to assess the use of museums in political agendas. Within these wider themes, questions surrounding material culture typology are addressed.


The Archaeology of the Modern World, AD1500-2000

This module builds on the Introduction to British Archaeology module and explores the archaeology and historic environment of post-medieval Britain in its international context in more depth. It also explores the range of methodological and theoretical challenges derived from combining archaeological and historical sources.

An illustrative list of topics that might be covered include: the architectural impact of the Reformation, the rise of mass consumerism, archaeology and empire, designed landscapes (parks, gardens and cemeteries), the archaeology of transport: road, rail and canal, the archaeology of heavy industry, archaeological approaches to the 20th century.


Death and Burial

This module builds on knowledge acquired in other Level 4, 5 and 6 (Years 1, 2 and 3) period-based modules. This is a thematic exploration of the archaeology of death and burial, considering a range of theoretical and practical issues informing the archaeological study of mortuary behaviour.

An illustrative list of topics that may be covered includes: an introduction to palaeopathology, death and gender, anthropological approaches to the study of death, the re-burial debate.


Archaeology and the Irish Sea Province

This module explores the region around the Irish Sea, which has been considered across various periods of archaeological interest as a zone of cultural and economic interaction. Shared cultural practices range from the extensive use of prehistoric rock-art, to the prevalence of particular types of prehistoric burial architecture, to shared motifs and designs of later Iron Age art, to economic relationships with the Continent in the early medieval period, the flowering and development of the Insular art style, to medieval and later relationships with England as a dominating political force.

In this module, students explore in depth the archaeology of the Irish Sea region - focusing on Ireland, Wales, SW and NW England (including Cheshire), the Isle of Man and the West coast of Scotland following a chronological framework. We consider different approaches to the archaeology of the region.

Illustrative topics of what might be covered include: rock-art landscapes, the theoretical approaches to the archaeology of islands, archaeological approaches to concepts of liminality, boundaries and frontiers, archaeology and nationalism in the region, the context, development and interpretation of Insular art, the Vikings and the archaeology of dominance in the region.


The Archaeology of Buildings

The archaeological study of standing buildings is an expanding and increasingly important area of the modern profession. It can be regarded as the third element in archaeological practice along with below-ground stratigraphy and artefact studies. Buildings have considerable potential for learning about and understanding aspects of past societies. They can be studied by analysis of their form, function, style, attributes and materials in a way analogous to artefacts. Also, as structures are frequently long-lived, they can exhibit attributes of stratigraphy similar to a below-ground site and so recorded and studied with similar methodologies.

The module focuses on buildings in this country during the second millennium where surviving examples may be studied. It studies the main developments in form, style and function through this period. A major element is devoted to the recording, study and interpretation of buildings from a theoretical and practical viewpoint. Practical work comprises an important element of the module assessment.


Preserving the Past: Managing Historical Buildings and Ancient Monuments

With reference to primary sources where appropriate, this module explores complex issues relating to the management of the built environment in terms of conservation and interpretation issues in the 21st century. There is an examination of areas such as: a brief overview of architectural developments in Britain, conservation issues surrounding monuments and buildings, the uses of ancient monuments and historic buildings in contemporary society, and interpretation methodology as applied to the built environment.


The Archaeology of Human Remains

This module provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical techniques used for the analysis of human remains from archaeological sites. It will be taught through a combination of lectures and practical sessions through which students will learn how to identify the different bones of the body, estimate physical traits such as age, sex and stature, and identify evidence for health and disease. It will also cover the interpretation of skeletal data and allow students to critically evaluate specialist human osteological reports. It builds on the introduction to the study of human remains provided in HI5001 and will complement the knowledge acquired in other Level 5 and 6 thematic and period-based modules. This module also provides practical experience of studying human remains which will complement the broader thematic exploration of funerary archaeology that is provided by HI6004.

From Foragers to Farmers: The Mesolithic and Early Neolithic of the British Isles

This module explores the archaeology of Mesolithic and early Neolithic Britain and Ireland, c.9,600 – c.3,000 cal BC. It traces the early Holocene hunter-gatherer communities of the Mesolithic through to the technological and subsistence changes that took place in the early Neolithic. Taking a broadly chronological approach, it focuses primarily on Britain and Ireland but, when appropriate, this is set within a north-west European context. The module addresses Mesolithic settlement and subsistence, stone tool technology, climate change, management of the landscape and environment, and death and burial. It will introduce students to the current debates concerning the early colonisation of north-west Europe at a time of dynamic and rapid environmental change and the causes and impact of the appearance of domesticated species and other products marking the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. These aspects will be addressed by examining a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to the past, such as ethnographic studies and environmental evidence. Practical sessions will be used to familiarise students with artefacts and ecofacts commonly recovered from Mesolithic sites and sessions will prepare students for opportunities to participate in excavations of Mesolithic sites. An illustrative list of topics that might be covered include: cosmologies and shamanism, animals and animism, recognising Mesolithic stone tools, death and different forms of burial and disposal, reconstructing Mesolithic environments.


This module explores the archaeology and history of the Viking world. This includes the origins of the Viking world and themes in the archaeology of Viking Scandinavia from the late eighth century to the eleventh century. The module also addresses Viking raiding, trading, invasion and colonisation in the North Atlantic, British Isles and Western Europe, including the interaction of Norse and native communities. An illustrative list of topics that might be covered include: the Roman and Germanic Iron Age background, rural and urban settlement, art and artefacts, death and burial, religion and cult, economy and trade, hoards and hoarding, military archaeology, settlement in the Northern and Western Isles, Vikings and the Frankish world, the North Atlantic from Iceland to the New World, Vikings today.


Palaeoecology and Environmental Archaeology

This module provides a grounding in the theoretical and practical techniques of palaeoecology and environmental archaeology and their relevance to our understanding of the human past. It will be taught through a combination of classroom teaching, laboratory-based analysis and fieldwork. An illustrative list of topics covered in this module includes: recording and interpreting lake and wetland sediments, plant macrofossil identification and analysis, wood and charcoal identification and analysis, the principles of pollen and insect analysis, quaternary dating techniques, calibrating and modelling radiocarbon dates. The module will also cover the application of these techniques to archaeological questions, such as the effects of past climatic and environmental change on human society, human impacts on their environment, subsistence and economy, the perception of the environment.



This module provides a practical introduction to the scientific study of past environments. It will be taught through a combination of lectures and laboratory sessions where students will learn how to reconstruct past environmental conditions through the analysis of lake sediments and macro- and micro-fossils. It will also explore the archaeological evidence for how prehistoric societies have exploited such environments, and undertake experimental studies to look at how plant remains may have been utilised as food and raw materials.


It should be noted that in any given year the optional modules are subject to staff availability. 

Methods of assessment include written work in the form of essays, reports and portfolios, oral presentations and examination. Most modules are assessed via a range of coursework and no module is assessed solely by examination.

The course will prepare you for a wide range of jobs including:

Jobs directly related to your degree:

Jobs where your degree would be useful:


You will be equipped with transferable skills which are valued by employers such as:

  • work as a team member/leader through field/project work;
  • form structured arguments supported by evidence;
  • use various IT packages;
  • prepare and give oral presentations for different audiences;
  • retrieve information to produce written reports;
  • work methodically and accurately;
  • demonstrate attention to detail.

If you are studying this course on a combined basis you should look at options with both subjects.

For further information please visit:


Single Honours

UCAS points: 280 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BCC/BBC

BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM

BTEC Diploma - D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects
International Baccalaureate: 26 points
Access Access to HE Diploma, to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit

OCR National Extended Diploma - Merit 2

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DMM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.

Contact us

For details about your course or your application please get in touch.

  • Undergraduate Admissions, Enquiries/Information
    01244 511000
    01244 511329
  • Dr Barry Taylor, Programme Leader for Archaeology (Undergraduate)
    01244 513297
    01244 511329
Ruth Nugent

There is a reason why the department is so highly ranked nationally for student satisfaction and regional employability, this is due to its unwavering appreciation of the individual student".

Archaeology StudentRuth Nugent