Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology

Course details

Extend your knowledge of British archaeology with this one-year, part-time course.

This Advanced Diploma aims to give you a grounding in British archaeology within the context of the particular period under investigation. You will further your understanding of the skills and techniques needed to recover, process and evaluate archaeological evidence. You will also research and write a dissertation in a topic of your choice in British archaeology.

Open evening: Thursday 18 February 2021

An online open evening was held on Thursday 18 February 2021, from 6-7pm. If you missed this event but have questions about the programme, please contact the course team by emailing

Coronavirus update

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are following Government guidance and University regulations, which are subject to change. The teaching on this course in the coming year is expected to take place in person, although we are prepared to move this teaching online (either fully or partly) should circumstances dictate. For example, should social distancing be necessary, we may opt to conduct teaching fully online, or to have some participants accessing teaching from home whilst others join us in the classroom. Offer-holders will be kept informed of all developments.

Who is this course for?

Equivalent to the third year of undergraduate study (FHEQ Level 6), this course is the next step if you have completed, or are due to complete, our Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology or other similar courses at second-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 5).

How you will study

You will attend weekly classes, which are usually on Thursday evening and two hours long. You will also have tutorials, weekend field visits and either a practical course held over two weekends or approximately one week of practical fieldwork. You are given a programme of reading for the teaching sessions and the written work. Assessment is based on three assignments, a practical logbook and a dissertation.

As well as the time spent in teaching sessions, you will need to spend around 12 hours a week studying in term-time. This might include reading, preparing course work, and visiting museums, libraries and sites. You will be able to use the facilities of the Continuing Education Library for your background reading and research.

The course in detail

Course content

There are three modules, which are offered in different years. You take one module for this course.​

  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain, starting October 2021
  • Early Prehistoric Britain, starting October 2022
  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain, starting October 2023

Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain

This module explores the period from roughly AD 400 to 1500 – an important time that set the scene for the development of Britain as we know it today. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire and leading up to the Reformation, this period witnessed social collapse, migration, and successive waves of influence from Scandinavia and Europe. The story of Britain during this time can be traced in the archaeology of settlements, buildings, landscape, trade and material culture, and we will use a range of evidence to examine the spread of new states, religions, beliefs and identities, towns, industries and patterns of consumption. In addition, dramatic crises such as the Viking attacks, the Norman Conquest and the Black Death will be investigated alongside long-term incremental changes.

Course structure

Provisional teaching programme for 2021-22

Thursday evenings, 7.00-9.00 pm

Michaelmas term (October - December)

  • Archaeology, history and the chronological framework, AD 400-1500

  • The archaeology of Post-Roman Britain

  • Germanic homelands and earliest settlement in England

  • Ritual and burial practice before the conversion

  • Age and gender in early Anglo-Saxon England

  • Middle Saxon settlement and landscape   

  • Practical Weekend I, Analysing human remains                                         
  • Warfare, civil defence and the Burghal Hidage
  • Landscapes of governance
  • Church and society in early medieval Britain

Hilary term (January - March)

  • Wics and the Middle Saxon economy

  • Ships, ports and maritime structures

  • The Viking Age in England
  • Pictish and Norse Scotland
  • State development and trade in Viking Age Scandinavia
  • Early Medieval metalwork
  •  The Norman Conquest
  • Practical Weekend II, Analysing human remains
  • Medieval towns 
  • Saturday session: Ashmolean Museum
  • Urban architecture
  • Group project presentations

Trinity term (April - June)

  • Agricultural landscapes: regional and environmental variations
  • Saturday visit: Museum of London and the city
  • Pottery: diet and lifestyle
  • Church and parish
  • Saturday field trip: Wallingford
  • Dwelling and farming
  • Abbeys and monasteries
  • Castles
  • Manors and vernacular architecture
  • The late Medieval period, c. 1350-1500


You will need to complete:

  • Three assignments of up to 2,500 words.
  • A practical logbook of up to 4,000 words, to include two tasks. The tasks usually involve a practical element, for example a field trip and/or museum visit and/or archaeological fieldwork.
  • A 10,000-word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Course Director.

IT requirements

To study at this level you are expected to have some IT skills, access to a computer and the internet. Your course requires you to engage with the Virtual Learning Environment for course materials and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. Students need to have regular access to a computer and the internet and some level of experience and skill including the use of Microsoft Word or similar word-processing package, email and internet browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome.

The computer you use should meet our recommended minimum computer specification.

Teaching staff

The Course Director is Dr Alison MacDonald. A range of tutors will teach specific topics.

The Course Director and tutors will be able to help you with academic advice and support. In addition, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to help you develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. For further information and to book a place, please email or contact +44 (0)1865 280892.

For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, disability and/or special needs provision and sources of funding, please email: or contact the Course Administrator on +44 (0)1865 270369.

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application you may contact Dr Alison MacDonald: +44 (0)1865 270370

For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 270312

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355

For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892

How to apply

Applications for 2021-22 entry are closed.

Applications for 2022-23 entry will open in September 2021.

Please click on the ‘Apply’ button which will automatically notify us that you want a link to the online application form. We will email you that link together with a code to waive the application fee, and guidance on completing and submitting your application.

You will need to upload the following documents as part of your application:

  • A statement of 200–300 words explaining why you wish to enrol on this course, including details of any previous experience in the subject and membership of relevant societies or groups.
  • Proof of your English language ability if you are a non-native English-speaker (see here for more information).

Continuing Education Diploma students who wish to progress to the Advanced Diploma should submit their completed application with a statement of reasons for wanting to apply to the course. No reference is necessary.

Other applicants need to provide contact details for one referee. If possible, your referee should be someone who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not appropriate, please choose a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

Your application will be treated in accordance with the University's Equality Policy. We fully endorse the Equality Policy and our admissions procedures are kept under regular review to ensure compliance with this policy.

The final decision on admission to the course rests with the Department.

Award and credit transfer

An Undergraduate Advanced Diploma will be awarded on completion of the course. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Advanced Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

Students are eligible for the award of 60 transferable credit (CATS) points at FHEQ Level 6 on successful completion of the one-year course. Credit points may be transferred to the Open University, modular universities such as Oxford Brookes University, and other institutions of Higher Education. For further information about transfer of credit, contact the Student Adviser on +44 (0)1865 280355 or

Fees and expenses

The fee in 2021-22 is £2,678 (Home, Islands, and Republic of Ireland students) or £5,031 (Overseas students). An option to pay the fee in instalments may be available.

Please be aware that fees will usually increase annually.

Following an announcement by the Universities Minister on 23 June 2020, EU fee status students starting a course in 2021/22 will no longer be eligible to pay fees at the ‘Home’ rate and will instead be charged the higher ‘Overseas’ rate. This change will not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland, who will continue to be charged fees at the ‘Home’ rate for the duration of their course. 

Please note that the University is still awaiting clarification on the status of EU nationals who are granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme and of EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals benefiting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively.

Information on financial support can be found on our website here.


The Department for Continuing Education offers archaeology day and weekend coursesweekly classesonline short courses and summer schools. In the Undergraduate programme we offer the Certificate in Archaeology, the Certificate of Higher Education, the Diploma in British Archaeology and the Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology. At Postgraduate level we offer an MSc in Applied Landscape Archaeology and the DPhil in Archaeology.

If you are planning on embarking on a new career as a result of your studies, or hope to progress in your current field, you can access help and advice through the University Careers Service.

Overseas students

This course is not suitable for overseas students who do not already live in the UK before the course begins. For information, refer to

English language requirements

Check information on the specific English language requirements for this course.

Applicants are required to have the Higher level scores.