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Archaeology and History


About Archaeology at Exeter

Archaeology at Exeter is an exciting and varied subject combining fascinating academic study with practical, hands-on experience. Our vibrant academic community provide a friendly and relaxed environment in which to study, housed in the Laver Building.

You can study a diverse range of topics from human evolution, or the emergence of classical civilisations, to the creation of today’s landscapes. Archaeology also has a dedicated area for experimental archaeology in the University grounds and makes use of the extensive natural resources on campus.

We have approximately 250 students in total, and currently offer six undergraduate programmes in Archaeology:

Archaeology and History can also be studied as part of the Flexible Combined Honours programme. We also offer the option of adding European Study (with a study abroad option) to your degree.

There are currently six taught Masters programmes in Archaeology:

We also have many students studying for MA by Research, MPhil or PhD research degrees, in a wide variety of topics.

We would describe our research as Evidence-Based Social Archaeology and would characterise it as follows:

  • produces enduring primary records
  • enables a range of theoretical approaches to interpretation
  • strengthens awareness of the individuality of past human societies
  • interdisciplinary
  • field, laboratory and museum-based
  • investigates current issues in fresh spatial and temporal contexts
  • applies new techniques of investigation
  • develops and tests new theoretical approaches

We have three broad research themes:

Bioarchaeology: Bioarchaeological research at Exeter combines the study of archaeology with branches of the natural and physical sciences to address questions of health and well-being, diet, ecology, subsistence strategies and natural and human-induced environmental impacts in the past.

Landscape and Environmental Archaeology: Exeter has established itself at the forefront of this area. From our pioneering work in wetland environments we have broadened our horizons to embrace a wide range of research contexts across five continents. Our work is characterised by theoretically informed field-based approaches and a strong commitment to methodological innovation in areas such as the integration of palaeoenvironmental research with the wider study of the cultural landscape.

Material Culture and Social Agency: We emphasise fieldwork, new scientific investigations, academic rigour for experimental archaeology, and interdisciplinarity, to investigate the active role of material culture in human societies. Themes include artefact production, exchange and use, technological innovation, artefact biographies and memory, and inter-craft relations and influences.

Research excellence - case study

The Understanding Landscapes project is generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by the public and project partners from the heritage sector. The project uses field-based and desk-based heritage activity days to enable communities in two distinct parts of Devon and Cornwall to investigate and analyse the origins of their surrounding historic landscapes.