The exciting state-of-the-art degree in Archaeology at Cambridge provides a continuation of Cambridge’s leading role in teaching Archaeology, as well as Biological Anthropology and the Ancient Near East (Assyriology and Egyptology). The course is taught by world-class academics who are leaders in the field.
Archaeology is a subject that uses material culture and landscape to explore the diversities and commonalities of the human past. At Cambridge, students will study topics in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology and ANE in Part I, and then choose a stream to specialise in Part II. Each subject (out of Biological Anthropology, Archaeology and ANE) will have its own stream within the Archaeology Tripos. Opportunities are available for borrowing papers from other Triposes, such as HSPS. For more on the course structure, see the faculty admissions pages.
For the central Archaeology stream, students do two weeks of fieldwork training within Cambridge during Easter Term after the first or second year. They then do four weeks of fieldwork on varied projects after the second year (supported by departmental funds and college vacation study grants).
Faculty website: www.arch.cam.ac.uk
St Catharine’s is the ideal place to read Archaeology. The Fellow in Archaeology, Dr Gillian Carr, is very experienced at providing educational support for students, having been a Director of Studies in the subject since 2000. She has a policy of being hands-on with students, providing them with the support they need to excel in the field, whilst also helping them form solid friendships with others in their cohort by organising social events for her students.
Dr Carr is very committed to putting her expertise and long-standing teaching experience to the service of St Catharine’s students, who can be assured not only the highest degree of individual attention but also top-quality teaching in small group (or individual) supervisions. She will also provide students with the necessary guidance in choosing their first-year options as well as their second- and third-year papers.
For this subject there are no required subjects at A Level, but for those hoping to study Biological Anthropology, an A Level in Biology will be beneficial. Those hoping to specialise in the study of Ancient Egyptian or Mesopotamian languages will find that prior study of a language A Level will put them in good stead for learning the building blocks of an ancient language. For Archaeology, at least one humanities A Level is desirable, preferably more. Suitable subjects include History, Geography, Archaeology, and Classical Civilisations, but these are by no means the only ones. Applicants will find that the more experience they have at writing critical essays, the easier the transition to study at Cambridge will be. We look for A Level results of A*AA and strong references.
Most important to your success in being offered a place is a demonstration of willingness, aptitude, interest in and enthusiasm for your chosen discipline. This might be shown by, for example, wider reading, visiting museum exhibitions, attending public lectures, volunteering in a local museum, travel, visiting archaeological and heritage sites, or working on an excavation.
At present applicants receive two twenty-minute interviews on the same day, each with either one or two interviewers. Both interviews are largely subject-based, although more general questions may also be asked. Applicants will sit an assessment test at interview; you will not be asked to submit written work ahead of the interview.
These titles are given as a guide to help prospective students gain some background to the subject-matter that will be covered in detail in texts and references provided in the first first-year courses. They are not intended to be preparatory reading for applicants and interviewers will not expect candidates necessarily to have read any of these titles.
- Renfrew, A.C. & Bahn, P. (2000) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. Thames and Hudson.
- Scarre, C. 2005 (ed.) The Human Past. London: Thames and Hudson
- Wenke, R. (1999) Patterns in Prehistory. 4th Edition Oxford University Press.
- Boyd, R. & Silk, J. (2006) How Humans Evolved. W. W. Norton & Co.
- Lewin, R. & Foley, R. (2003) Principles of Human Evolution. 2nd ed. Blackwell Scientific Press.
- Ridley, M. (2003) Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human. Harper Collins
- Stringer, C. & Andrews, P. (2005) The Complete World of Human Evolution. Thames & Hudson
"Archaeology is the study of 'things' that can inform us about the human past – this usually focuses on objects and material culture but extends so much further at Cambridge. The Archaeology degree at Cambridge is especially broad, allowing you to study so many different relevant fields and draw on that experience when studying archaeological thought.
The best part about studying Archaeology at St Catharine's for me was being able to bring what I had learned in other papers – about Egypt, economics and political thought – into supervisions with other students who were ancient linguists, or reading Biological Anthropology or studying statistical analysis. Being able to explore these ideas alongside some of the world's leading archaeological academics was a fantastic opportunity and a truly special experience." (Alex Denny, undergraduate archeology student)