Why Study Archaeology?
Archaeology is the study of the human past, usually conducted on the basis of the non-written record. Archaeologists use artefacts (material culture) to understand how earlier people lived and thought, how they adapted to environmental conditions and crises, how they portrayed themselves and others etc. As archaeologists we excavate sites and analyse the physical remains which these excavations reveal. We study study written records, when available, in association with this material.
With the Division of Archaeology (http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/), the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/), the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (http://maa.cam.ac.uk/) and the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (http://www-cau.arch.cam.ac.uk/) Cambridge is one of the largest centres of archaeological research in Britain, and we have recently been awarded top place in the Good University Guide for Archaeology in the UK.
The Archaeology Tripos
In 2017 Cambridge launched an exciting new undergraduate degree programme (Tripos) in single honours archaeology (for more information on the course, see http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduates). The new archaeology degree encompasses multiple tracks: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Assyriology and Egyptology. You can choose to specialise from year 1 or combine them for your first year and then specialise from year 2. Teaching at Cambridge combines lectures, seminars, practical work, language classes, and lab experience. Fieldwork experience, for which departmental subsidies are available, is a vital element of the Archaeology BA course, and there are many opportunities for students to join department-based research projects.
Archaeology as a Tripos subject offers travel opportunities and both practical and fieldwork experience. This work is a compulsory component of the course but Homerton College offers small grants which you can apply for to supplement the funding available to you elsewhere. In addition, the college offers a number of resources which are available and valuable to all students. These include a Studies Skills Course which helps to prepare you for the academic side of University life. The College Library offers facilities and resources which help supplement those available from the unparalleled specialist Haddon Library which serves staff, research students and undergraduates as well as members of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.
The Teaching and the Fellows
During the first year your supervisor for each of your four papers will be either a member of College or a specialist from the Department. Teaching during your years 2-3 is organised by the Department of Archaeology, with lectures, seminars, supervisions and practicals led by specialists in the field. Interests and research specialisms of current College archaeologists range from the deep time of the world Palaeolithic through the European Neolithic, island community archaeology, the use of digital techniques and 3d modelling, human osteoarchaeology, zooarchaeology and heritage studies.
Dr Kate Pretty, our former Principal and Honorary Fellow of Homerton is also an archaeologist, as is Dr Peter Warner our former Senior Tutor and an Emeritus Fellow of Homerton. Both take an active interest in the subject in the college.
Homerton accepts about 4 undergraduate students in Archaeology each year so you will be part of a community of about a dozen students. Students come from a wide range of educational background and countries. In recent years students taking Archaeology have come from Austria, Cyprus, Japan as well as the UK. When you finish your degree, the outside world offers huge opportunities for Archaeology graduates. Although many do go on in Archaeology (Academic and/or Commercial) many others move on to other things. The degree provides training in digital skills, analytical thinking, communication skills etc, all of which are valuable in the workplace. Almost all walks of life today benefit from an understanding of deep time and the practices of our predecessors. Especially in these days of effects of climate and intensive environmental change. In recent years graduates have gone on to medical training, conservation (biological and museum), law, media, accountancy, banking and education overseas, with some returning to archaeology after a gap as their passion for the subject continues.
Who Can Study Archaeology?
Anyone with an interest in the past can study archaeology. Both Arts and Science subjects provide a suitable school background. The main thing we look for is a passion for the past (and remember the past starts now) revealed by ‘things’ as well as the written word. Archaeologists do nto study history by reading it or about it. We deal with ‘material culture’ so we look for an affinity with artefacts. We do not expect you to have excavated or volunteered in museums but we do like to see some indication that you have done something to develop your interest.
Alongside A-level students, we welcome applications from students enrolled in other programs. In recent years, we have admitted a number of people who studied the International Baccalaureate, College Board APs, and many other qualifications.
Application to study Archaeology is the same as for all other undergraduate subjects, and as descibed elsewhere in the college website. There is a test at interview for Archaeology applicants (no pre-interview assessment), details of which can be found here:
The standard conditional offer will be A*AA at A-level; 40-42 pts 7,7,6 at Higher Level for the IB and the equivalent in other qualifications.