Undergraduate Diploma in British Archaeology

Course details

Gain a grounding in British archaeology with this part-time course, designed to suit adult students with busy lives.

This two-year course provides a comprehensive introduction to British archaeology within the context of different chronological periods. You will increase your understanding of the skills and techniques needed to recover, process and evaluate archaeological evidence for the particular periods under investigation.

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 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Who is this course for?

Equivalent to the second year of undergraduate study (FHEQ Level 5), this Diploma course is the next step if you have either completed, or are due to complete, our Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology or other similar courses at first-year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4).

How you will study

This is a two-year course. Each year has three terms, and in each of these 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 five out of six assignments and a practical logbook (or in the second year, an extended project).

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, with one module offered each year. You obtain the Diploma by successfully completing two of the modules, which can be taken in any order. The modules are:

  • 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:

  • Five out of six assignments of up to 2,500 words.
  • In the first year, a practical logbook of up to 8,000 words, to include four tasks. The tasks usually involve a practical element, for example a field trip, museum visit and/or archaeological fieldwork.
  • In the second year, either a practical logbook or an extended project.

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 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk 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: student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk 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 alison.macdonald@conted.ox.ac.uk

For queries on applications and admissions: +44 (0)1865 280882 undergraduate@conted.ox.ac.uk

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision and sources of funding: +44 (0)1865 280355 student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

For information about Study Skills courses: +44 (0)1865 280892 studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

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 (Appendix A).

Continuing Education Certificate students who wish to progress to the Diploma should return a completed application form to the address below with a statement of reasons for wanting to apply to the course. 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 Diploma will be awarded on completion of two modules of the course. 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. 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 student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk.

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 www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.

English language requirements

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

Applicants are required to have the Higher level scores.