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 10,000-word dissertation in a topic of your choice in British Archaeology.

Coronavirus update

The admissions cycle for this programme is progressing as planned, and the University is committed to ensuring that offer holders can take up their place as expected. Information will be made available as the situation develops.

Open evening: Thursday 20 February 2020

An open evening for this course was held on Thursday 20 February 2020 at Rewley House. If you missed the event and have questions about the course, please email

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 Thursday evening classes, which are 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 10,000-word 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.

  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain, starting October 2020

  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain, starting October 2021

  • Early Prehistoric Britain, starting October 2022

Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain

This course explores the late Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period in Britain - covering the first millennium BC through to the early fifth century AD. This was a time of great technological, economic and social change, which we will study by looking at landscapes, settlements and material culture. To what extent did people continue to inhabit hillforts and roundhouses? Who lived in cities and towns, villas and farmsteads? How can we trace the impact of the continent on Britain’s cultural and political relationships? This course will investigate these and other questions.

Course structure

Provisional teaching programme for 2020-21

Thursday evenings, 7.00-9.00 pm

Michaelmas term (October - December)

  • Introduction: an overview of chronology and the nature of evidence
  • Landscapes: theory and practice
  • Hillforts
  • Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland
  • Field Trip: Ridgeway Hillforts
  • Lowland settlement and farming
  • The Atlantic coastal zone
  • Northern Britain
  • Cross Channel connections and oppida
  • Practical Weekend I
  • Social re-ordering in the late Iron Age

Hilary term (January - March)

  • The conquest
  • The role of the army: forts, frontiers and communications
  • Establishing Roman rule: administration and the Roman system
  • Towns of Roman Britain: the built environment
  • Economic systems
  • The Roman town of Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum)
  • Field Trip: Silchester and Reading Museum
  • Rural settlement patterns: farms, villas and villages
  • Practical Weekend II
  • Religion and ritual
  • Religious sites
  • The living and the afterlife

Trinity term (April - June)

  • Roman industry, engineering and technology
  • Roman art and material culture
  • Saturday Visit: British Museum
  • Celtic art: craftsmanship and patronage
  • Later Prehistoric and Roman metalworking
  • Later Prehistoric pottery
  • Roman ceramics: the industries and their economic impact
  • Practical session: working with Roman ceramics
  • Group Project presentations: the end of Roman rule


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 280882

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

We are now closed to applications for 2020 entry.

We will open to applications for 2021 entry from September 2020.

Please use the apply button on this page to download the application form, which includes a reference form.

Continuing Education Diploma students who would like to progress to the Advanced Diploma should return a completed application form to the address below. No reference is necessary.

Other applicants should complete the reference form and send it to their referee, asking him/her to provide a reference by direct email to us. Please note that the reference is compulsory and we cannot consider your application without it. If possible, your referee should be a person who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not possible, you should name a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

Please complete the rest of the application form and send it to the address below with the following additional materials:

  • 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-speaking applicant (see below for more information).

Applications will be considered on a rolling admissions basis until 16 July 2020 if places remain. Early application is encouraged.The final decision on course entry rests with the Department.

Please send your application with the additional materials to the:

Course Administrator

Department for Continuing Education, Oxford University 

Ewert House

Ewert Place

Banbury Road


Oxford OX2 7DD

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 for 2020-21 is £2,575 (Home / EU students) or £4,840 (non-EU students). An option to pay the fee in instalments is available. The fee includes tuition for the practical fieldwork or the two practical weekends. Accommodation during these periods may be available at Rewley House at an additional charge.

It is not essential to buy books, but there may be a few recommended key texts which you might like to buy. Transport for field trips and the practical field work is normally arranged on a car sharing basis by the students themselves. Costs of any additional hire of transport would be paid for by the students. Entry fees to museums or sites are paid individually by the students.

Following an announcement by the Universities Minister on 28 May 2019, EU students commencing their studies in 2020/21 academic year will be charged fees at the home rate for the duration of their course, whether a deal for leaving the EU is in place or not. 

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.

Non-EU students

This course is not suitable for non-EU 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.