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The Course

The course encompasses Archaeology, Assyriology, Egyptology and biological anthropology. Its flexibility means you can either specialise from Year 1, or opt for a broad start before concentrating on up to two subjects for the second year.

  • Archaeology uses material evidence to explore the nature and development of particular societies and to explain the variations and commonalities of the human past
  • Assyriology is the study of the languages, cultures, history and archaeology of ancient Mesopotania (Sume, Babylonia and Assyria)
  • Egyptology is the study of the history, languages, society, archaeology and religion of ancient Egypt
  • Biological anthropology explores human evolution, biology and behaviour, and the interaction between biology and culture

Course outline

In Year 1, students have between six and eight lectures and one or two supervisions each week, plus weekly language classes and/or practicals (where appropriate). Students are assessed each year, principally through written exams but some papers include assessed practicals/field work. Most students also write a 10,000 word dissertation in Year 3.

Year 1 Students pick from seven core archaeology, language and biological anthropology options (certain papers are advised for some Year 2 subjects). A fourth option can be another core paper, psychology paper, or one from Human, Social, and Political Sciences (HSPS).

Years 2 and 3 (Part IIA and IIB) Students can pursue one of four single-subject tracks or one of two two-subject tracks – Archaeology and Biological Anthropology or Assyriology and Egyptology –details on 


Course requirements

Archaeology spans a very broad subject area, and the course allows study of topics ranging across the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. Applicants with almost any combination of subjects can apply; there are no specific required or recommended subjects. Applications are welcome from applicants studying humanistic fields such as History, English, Classics, and ancient languages, social sciences such as Geography, Sociology, Psychology, or Anthropology, and sciences such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.  Applicants for Egyptology and Assyriology are strongly encouraged to study an ancient or modern language.

Admissions process

Applicants will normally expect two interviews – one with the Director of Studies, who is usually accompanied by another specialist member of staff, and one with another non-expert academic. Applicants are not expected to have any standard background in archaeology, as the field is highly varied, there are many relevant backgrounds and the subject is often not taught at schools. Applicants should, however, be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and the potential direction they wish to follow.

All applicants will take an at-interview assessment and this will be based on the reading of material.  This assessment is an hour long and is designed to assess the ability to interpret text and to write clearly and effectively. No preparation or prior knowledge is required.

Applicants will also be required to submit two pieces of written work. Further details can be found on the following website:, and any enquiries should be address to: or to the Admissions Office at Pembroke College: email

Go to the Archaeology faculty website