Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology

Key facts

Level: Undergraduate

Mode: Part-time

Duration: 2 years

Applications deadlines: By 7.00pm GMT/BST on Thursday 18 January 2018, Thursday 8 March 2018 and Thursday 10 May 2018.

Later applications will be considered if places remain.


Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology

Does the idea of learning to become an archaeologist attract you?

Do you visit museums or monuments and wish you knew more? Do excavations, ancient artefacts or historic landscapes inspire you? Are you intrigued by new discoveries about our shared human past? 

If you are fascinated by archaeology and want to learn more about the subject, and to acquire some practical skills, then taking the Certificate in Archaeology is an excellent way to begin. 

The Certificate is an introductory, part-time undergraduate course designed for adult students with some, a little, or no previous experience of archaeology. You may wish to build on some practical experience, or a previous online or evening class, or have a personal interest in the subject inspired by landscapes, museum visits or TV documentaries. All are welcome to apply.

The Tuesday evening classes and Saturday field trips, fieldwork and workshops are taken by University teaching staff and professional archaeologists. The Certificate is awarded by Oxford University once the two years have been successfully completed.

Open evening:

The open evening took place in February, but we are always happy to talk to new potential applicants about the course: if you would like to discuss it with us, in the first instance please get in touch via 'Contact us' (to right of this page). 

Who is it for?

Enthusiasm, commitment and a high degree of motivation are important if you are to enjoy and complete the course. No formal academic qualifications are required for entry, but you must be capable of studying and writing in English. Potential students will be invited by the Course Director to come and to discuss the appropriateness of the course for their needs, following submission of the application form. Offers of places will be based on evidence of motivation, an awareness of the time commitment, and the suitability of this level of study.

This two-year part-time course aims to demonstrate the development of archaeology as a subject and will introduce how archaeologists work today. People and societies from the past will be explored using evidence from Britain and other parts of Europe.

In the first-year module the ideas and discoveries of early archaeologists will be examined, followed by a consideration of recent research and the current methods and techniques used to recover, analyse and interpret archaeological evidence. The second-year module aims to expand your understanding of archaeological theory and practice through the study of themes from a wider European context.

Course structure

This is a two-year course beginning in October 2018. Each year has three terms, each of those with Tuesday evening classes and Saturday field trips, fieldwork and workshops. At the end of the first year there is a one-week programme of practical fieldwork.

Year 1

Year 1 covers the development of the discipline of archaeology as well as the basis of archaeological theory and practice. Classroom sessions provide the foundation for practical workshops studying archaeological evidence and fieldwork elements teaching essential survey and excavation skills. Weekday evening sessions are based at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford on Tuesdays 7.00 - 9.00pm; Saturday sessions are from 10.30am - 3.00pm unless otherwise stated and are held at Rewley House, the Ashmolean Museum and various fieldwork sites close to Oxford.

Provisional teaching programme

Term 1 (October-December 2018)

  • What is archaeology? Current organisation and purpose of the modern discipline
  • The birth of the discipline: Key archaeologists
  • (Sat) Field visit to White Horse Hill (afternoon only)
  • Archaeological evidence
  • Archaeological theory
  • (Sat) Tutorials day at Rewley house, 10am-3pm
  • Key site: Troy
  • Visit to Oxford Archaeology, 4.00-5.00pm; The work of Oxford Archaeology, 7.00-8.00pm (Rewley House)

Term 2 (January-March 2019)

  • Finding sites from the air
  • The devlopment of urban archaeology
  • Landscape archaeology in the field
  • (Sat) Workshop: Artefacts
  • Feb Artefacts in archaeology
  • Key sites: Palmyra and Petra
  • (Sat) Museum Visit

Term 3 (April-June 2019)

  • Survey in archaeology: topography and geophysics
  • (Sat) Workshop/fieldwork
  • Excavation in practice
  • (Sat) Fieldwork
  • Relative dating and stratigraphy in archaeology
  • (Sat) Fieldwork
  • Key site: Oxford
  • (Sat) Field trip

There is a one-week training excavation in July 2019.

Year 2

Year 2 covers key themes and turning points introduced in Year 1 in more detail: for example science in archaeology and excavation report writing. Practical workshops studying archaeological evidence and fieldwork elements continue building on the foundations laid in Year 1. Students from both years join together for the practical sessions. Weekday evening sessions are based at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford on Tuesday 7.00-9.00pm; Saturday sessions are from 10.30am - 3.00pm unless otherwise stated and are held at Rewley House, the Ashmolean Museum and various fieldwork sites close to Oxford.

Provisional teaching programme

Term 1 (2019)

  • Introduction to prehistoric periods: farming in prehistory
  • Landscapes of prehistoric monumentality
  • Saturday practical workshop: flint and lithics
  • Dating in prehistory
  • Saturday tutorials day at Rewley House
  • Theory in prehistory
  • Key site: Çatalhöyük

Term 2 (2020)

  • Rural and urban Roman landscapes
  • Roman economy and society
  • Saturday workshop and Rewley House: plant remains in archaeology
  • Roman material culture
  • Saturday field trip
  • Mapping evidence (case studies): preparation for extended projects
  • Saturday fieldwork near Oxford
  • Saturday visit: The British Museum
  • Key sites: Pompeii and Herculaneum

Term 3 (2020)

  • Post-Roman and Medieval agricultural and religious landscape
  • Saturday fieldwork near Oxford: geophysical survey
  • Environmental archaeology: medieval sites
  • Saturday workshop at Rewley House: pottery
  • Post excavation and report writing
  • Saturday fieldwork near Oxford: test pit excavation
  • Saturday field trip
  • Student presentations of extended assignments

Course aims

Undergraduate Certificate Archaeology Oxford University

This two-year part time course will outline the development of archaeology as a discipline and introduce how today's archaeologists find out about past people and their societies. The practice and theory of archaeology will be explored using evidence from Britain and other parts of Europe.

The first year considers the development of the modern discipline and covers the fundamentals of archaeological theory and practice. Workshops will investigate artefacts and environmental evidence; fieldwork sessions will introduce essential practical skills in survey and excavation and field trips will investigate sites and landscapes. The second year studies key themes and turning points in archaeology from prehistory to the medieval period, and deals with certain practical and scientific topics in more detail. Saturday field trips, fieldwork and workshops are woven through both years, while each year focuses broadly on Prehistory in the first term, later Prehistory and the Roman period in the second term, and post-Roman and Medieval archaeology in the third term.

Following the successful completion of the two-year course it is anticipated you will have achieved the following:

  • An awareness of current archaeology practice and theory
  • A recognition of the range of archaeological evidence, its potential and limits, and the methods of recovering, recording and analysing the evidence
  • An ability to ask your own questions of archaeological evidence and present arguments on archaeological topics
  • A broad understanding of the scientific and theoretical aspects of archaeology
  • A range of fundamental practical skills in survey and excavation
  • An appreciation of the chronological and cultural framework of the periods studies


The syllabus and teaching of the course are aimed at first-year undergraduate level and students are eligible for the award of 60 transferable credit (CATS) points at FHEQ Level 4 on successful completion of a one-year module. An Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology (120 CATS points) will be awarded to each student on completion of the two modules of the course within a three-year period. 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 Registry on 01865 280355 or registry@conted.ox.ac.uk

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Student support

Academic advice and support will be provided by the Course Director Dr David Griffiths and by the tutors. In addition, the Department runs a programme of general and academic study skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. These courses are available to Certificate students at a reduced fee. For full details of the programme please contact 01865 280892. For advice on educational opportunities, credit transfer, special needs facilities and sources of funding, please contact the Registry on 01865 280355 or email registry@conted.ox.ac.uk

Contact information

Course Director, Dr David Griffiths

david.griffiths@conted.ox.ac.uk 01865 280764

Applications and admissions 

ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk 01865 280154 / 270369

Teaching outcomesUndergraduate Certificate Archaeology Oxford University

The teaching is based on themes with linked teaching sessions and seminars, including the use of case-studies, practical sessions and field visits. Teaching sessions include the use of visual material and handouts for information, and as the basis for informal discussion and directed interactive student learning in the class.

Teaching staff

Course Director, Dr David Griffiths, OUDCE, with a range of tutors to teach specific topics.

Course requirements


You are expected to undertake the necessary background reading and research for the coursework using the facilities of the Continuing Education Library at Rewley House and other libraries. It is estimated that time spent in reading, preparing coursework, visiting museums, libraries and sites will average 12 hours each week in term-time in addition to the teaching sessions.


  • A minimum of 80% of the teaching sessions (including classroom and practical sessions)
  • A minimum of 2 tutorials
  • A one-week practical fieldwork programme or equivalent at the end of the first year
  • A two-hour examination in the first year


  • 5 assignments per year of up to 2,000 words in length (the first assignment in Year 1 is formative and does not count towards the final assessment)
  • A practical fieldwork journal at the end of the first yea rof up to 2,000 words
  • A two-hour written examination in the first year
  • An extended assignment of up to 5,000 words in the second year

Assignments count for 60% of the final assessment, the examination and the extended project each count for 20%. It is not essential to pass in the continuous assessment element and the examination separately in order to pass the module overall.

Progress review

A review of each student's performance is carried out at the end of the first year: candidates may not be permitted to continue if their performance is not deemed satisfactory.

Time limit for course completion

An Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology will awarded to each student who successfully completes Year 1 and Year 2 of the course within three years. Full regulations and conventions will be included in the Student Handbook which is given to students at the beginning of the academic year and are also available from the Registry on request (email:registry@conted.ox.ac.uk).

Apply for this course

Please use the apply button on this page to dowload the application form which includes a reference form (Appendix A). If you experience any difficulty doing this, then please phone us on 01865 270369 / 280154 to receive these forms by post. You can also email: ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk

You should complete the reference form and send it to your 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 written statement of about 300 words stating why you wish to enrol on the course. 
  • Proof of your English Language Ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant.

Please send your application with the additional materials to the 


Award Programme Administrator
OUDCE, Rewley House
1 Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JA

Application deadlines

Thursday 18 January 2018, Thursday 8 March 2018 and Thursday 10 May 2018.

Applicants who submit a complete application by 18 January 2018 will be guaranteed an interview. Later applications will be considered if places remain. Please check our website for details of availability. The final decision on admission to the course rests with OUDCE.

Use the apply button on this page to download the application form.

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 www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration​.


The fee for 2018~19 is £2,380 (EU students) or £4,470 (non-EU students). There may be a small fee increase in line with inflation in 2019-2020. A non-refundable deposit of £200 is required when you accept an offer of a place and the remaining fee is payable in instalments. The fee includes tuition for the practical fieldwork.


Students are not required to purchase books, but there may be a few recommended key texts that you may like to buy. Transport for field trips and the practical fieldwork is normally arranged on a car sharing basis by the students themselves. The students would pay for costs of any additional hire of transport. Entry fees to museums or sites are paid individually by the students.

English language requirements

English is the language of instruction for all courses offered at Oxford. You must submit evidence that you meet the University’s English language requirements for your course if your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) - Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America.

You do not need to submit test results, or request a waiver, if your first language is English and you have always been a resident and citizen of the UK, Ireland or any other majority English-speaking country (see list above).

Score Requirements (Standard Level)

The University only accepts certain standardised tests with results at or above the following scores. Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. The score requirements in each test are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic (Institution Code: 0713): overall score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each of the four components).

  • TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490): overall score of 100 with component scores of at least: Listening 22, Reading 24, Speaking 25, and Writing 24.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Overall score of at least 185, with a minimum of 176 per component.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Overall score of at least 185 with a minimum of 176 per component.

Asking for a waiver of the requirement

Exemptions from this requirement may be waived if you have completed, or are currently completing, a degree-level course that is full-time, at least 9 months and undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English.

Please click here for further information.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support