Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology

Key facts

Level: Undergraduate

Mode: Part-time

Duration: Two years (two one-year modules) which may be taken in any order (see Description). The third of the three modules may be done subsequently as part of the Advanced Diploma in British Archaeology.

Applications for 2018 entry will reopen from October 2017.

The module offered in 2018-19 will be Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain.


Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology

The Diploma in British Archaeology is an undergraduate part-time course specially designed to suit adult students with busy lives and other commitments, but who would like to further their interest in archaeology through an academic course.

The aim of this two-year modular course is to provide you with a grounding in British Archaeology within the context of different chronological periods. By taking this course you will increase your understanding of the skills and techniques needed to recover, process and evaluate archaeological evidence for the particular periods under investigation.

Open evening Thursday 22 February 2018

There will be an Open Evening on Thursday 22 February 2018 at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA from 6-7pm. You are invited to visit the Department, meet the Course Director and tutors, and discuss the course. If you would like to attend, please email ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Who is it for?

The course offers a progression for those who have successfully completed a first-year undergraduate certificate in archaeology (such as the OUDCE Certificate in Archaeology) or other similar assessed courses.

How much work is involved?

In each year there are evening teaching sessions during term time, plus tutorials, weekend field visits and either two practical weekends or one week (or equivalent) practical fieldwork. You are given a programme of reading for the teaching sessions and the written work. In the first year assessment is based on two assignments each term and a practical logbook. In the second year assessment is based on two assignments each term and either a practical logbook or an extended project.


The course aims to provide an understanding of current theory and practice in British Archaeology, and to demonstrate a range of themes within the context of different chronological periods from Early Prehistory to Medieval. 

There are three modules, with one module offered each year. Students obtain the Diploma by successfully completing two of the modules within five years. The modules can be taken in any order.

The modules are

  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain
  • Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval Britain
  • Early Prehistoric Britain

In October 2017 the following module is offered at Rewley House in Oxford on Thursdays 7.00-9.00pm:

  • Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain

Programme details 2017-2018


Module 2: Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain

This course explores the late Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman period in Britain - covering the first millenium 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, and 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.

Provisional Teaching programme

Thursdays 7.00-9.00pm at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JA

TERM 1 (2017)

5 Oct Introducation: an overview of chronology and the nature of evidence
12 Oct Landscapes: theory and practice
19 Oct Hillforts
26 Oct Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland
29 Oct Visit: Sunday Field Trip: Ridgeway Hillforts
2 Nov Lowland settlement and farming
9 Nov The Atlantic coastal zone
16 Nov Northern Britain
23 Nov Cross Channel connections and oppida
25-26 November, Practical Weekend I
30 Nov Social re-ordering in the late Iron Age

TERM 2 (2018)

18 Jan The conquest
25 Jan The role of the army: forts, frontiers and communications
1 Feb Establishing Roman rule: administration and the Roman system
8 Feb Towns of Roman Britain: the built environment
15 Feb Economic systems
22 Feb The Roman town of Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum)
24 Feb Saturday Field Trip: Silchester and Reading Museum
1 Mar Rural settlement patterns: farms, villas and villages
3-4 Mar Practical Weekend II
8 Mar Religion and ritual
15 Mar Religious sites
22 Mar The living and the afterlife

TERM 3 (2018)

19 Apr Roman industry, engineering and technology
26 Apr Roman art and material culture
28 April Saturday Visit: British Museum
3 May Celtic art: crafstmanship and patronage
10 May Later Prehistoric and Roman metalworking
17 May Later prehistoric pottery
24 May Roman ceramics: the industries and their economic impact
31 May Practical seminar: working with Roman ceramics
7 Jun Group Project presentations
14 Jun The end of Roman rule

Learning outcomes

It is anticipated that by the end of the module on Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain you will have achieved the following:

  • knowledge of the nature, extent and limitations of the archaeological evidence for Later Prehistoric and Roman Britain;
  • recognition and understanding of the various approaches used to reconstruct Iron Age and Romano-British society, and the problems of interpreting the evidence;
  • an appreciation of the relationship of other disciplines to the period and their importance in assessing and interpreting the evidence;
  • an understanding of, and ability to evaluate, the range of current archaeological methods and techniques used for recovering and analysing evidence for later Prehistoric and Roman Britain;
  • an appreciation of the impact of Rome on Britain and the ability to contribute to current debates on cultural continuity and change;
  • an awareness of Britain's place within Iron Age Europe and role within the Roman Empire.


The syllabus and teaching of the course are aimed at second-year undergraduate level and students are eligible for the award of 60 transferable credit (CATS) points at FHEQ Level 5 on successful completion of a one-year module.

Award and credit transfer

An Undergraduate Diploma will be awarded to each student on completion of two modules of the course within a five-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 Student Adviser on 01865 280355 or registry@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Successful students will be awarded an Oxford University Undergraduate Diploma in Archaeology. Outstanding performance will qualify for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Diploma at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

The Diploma carries a Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) rating of 120 points at FHEQ Level 5.

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.

Teaching method

Much of the academic support will come from the Course Director, who may be contacted at any time during office hours by students wishing to discuss matters relating to the course. In addition, the Department runs a programme of Study Skills workshops designed to enable you to develop and improve the skills needed for effective study. These workshops are free to students enrolled on the course. For full details of the programme please contact 01865 280892.

Contact information

If you would like an informal discussion on academic matters before making your application you may contact the following:

Dr Alison MacDonald 01865 270370 alison.macdonald@conted.ox.ac.uk

Award Programme Office 01865 280154 / 270369
For queries on applications and admissions ppaward@conted.ox.ac.uk

Student Advice 01865 280355
For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision, residential category and sources of funding: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk

Study Skills 01865 280892
For information about Study Skills courses: studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

Day & Weekend School Office 01865 270368 / 270380
For information on day schools and weekend courses: dayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk

OUDCE Reception 01865 270360
For general enquiries about OUDCE or to leave messages if other staff are not available.

Teaching staff

Course Director: Dr Alison MacDonald, OUDCE
A range of tutors will teach specific topics.

Course requirements

Study commitment

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


Each one-year module requires attendance at:

  • A minimum of 80% of the teaching sessions
  • Either two practical weekends or one week (or equivalent) practical fieldwork
  • A minimum of two tutorials


Students are required to complete for each module:

  • 5 out of 6 assignments of up to 2,500 words.
  • In the first year a practical logbook of up to 8,000 words, to include a range of learning tasks based on the practical training, visits to archaeological sites and/or museums and comparative site/artefact accounts. In the second year either a practical logbook or an extended project.

Progress review

A review of each candidate’s performance will be 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 Diploma will be awarded to students who successfully complete two modules of the course within five years.

Apply for this course

Together with the application form, you should submit a reference and additional materials: (i) a statement (preferably typewritten) of approx. 300 words outlining your previous experience of the subject (if any) and your reasons for wishing to enrol on the course.

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.

When you have received your reference, return the sealed envelope with your application form and your statement to:

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

The deadlines for this course for 2018~2019 are Thursday 8 March 2018 and Thursday 10 May 2018. Applicants who submit a complete application by the 8 March 2018 will be guaranteed an interview. Late applications will be considered if there are still places on the course, but applications cannot be considered after the course has begun. Please contact the Award Programme Administrator on 01865 270369 to check availability. The final decision on course entry rests with OUDCE.

Continuing students

OUDCE Diploma students who have completed, or expect to complete, one module of the Diploma, should return a completed application form, but there is no need to provide a statement or a reference.

OUDCE Certificate students who wish to progress to the Diploma should return a completed application form with a statement of reasons for wanting to apply to the course. No reference is necessary.


The fee for 2018-2019 is £2,380 (EU students) or £4,470 (non-EU students). A non-refundable deposit of £200 EU is required on acceptance of a place and the balance of the fee is payable in instalments. 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.

Additional expenses

Students are not required to buy books, but there may be a few recommended key texts which you may 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.

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.ukvisas.gov.uk.

Funding and financial assistance

For information on student funding, please fees and funding page

For more detailed information on all of the above, contact the Registry on 01865 280355 or registry@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support