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Archaeology and History


Archaeology and History at Exeter combine fascinating academic study with practical hands-on experience. You will enhance your understanding of other subject areas and improve your awareness of other cultures, providing skills that will be of use throughout your life. Many of our courses can be taken with foreign language modules - find out more on the Exeter Language Centre webpages.

Our Director's of Education and Student Experience

Postgraduate Research (PhD)

Find more details on Postgraduate Research study in Archaeology and History below:

Archaeology Fieldwork

At Exeter, we think that fieldwork is an important part of your archaeology degree. All students have the opportunity to spend time in the field, usually over the summer between the first and second year. This will often take place on a university-led excavation, but students may also register on approved external digs.

Excavation may take you far from home, or just around the corner; over recent years Exeter students have experienced fieldwork in as diverse locations as Argentina, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, South Dakota, Texas and here in Devon. In some cases, fieldwork may consist of archaeological work in a museum rather than excavation.

The majority of students carry out fieldwork in relation to research being carried out by academic staff and details of fieldwork locations vary each year.

Since 2022 our department-led field school has been based at Killerton, a National Trust property outside Cullompton, Devon. The field school is open to current students, and we work closely with the staff at Killerton, within the National Trust, and their team of archaeology volunteers to explore the history of this multi-period estate.

Recent fieldwork

  • Excavation in prehistoric ‘Plains Indian’ village in Mitchell, South Dakota
  • Experimental archaeology project involving the smelting of metals in wind-powered furnaces in Sri Lanka
  • Geophysical survey of ceremonial site of Taquara/Itarare people near El Dorado, Argentina
  • Survey of antique buildings at World Heritage Site in Butrint, Albania
  • Expedition to Gault, Texas, to examine one of the oldest sites of habitation in North America
  • Survey and excavation at medieval manorial complex at Stokenham in Devon
  • Exploration of early iron working on Exmoor
  • Excavation and survey work in Kazakhstan to explore early domestication of horses

Online History Course

Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism. A FREE online course from the University of Exeter

Our British Empire MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is delivered through the Open University's FutureLearn platform, and lasts for six weeks.

The free course is open to absolutely everybody – whether you are a student considering coming to university or are simply interested in learning more about British history. The course is delivered entirely online covering a different topic each week.

Course content

The British Empire was the largest empire ever seen. It ruled over a quarter of the world’s population and paved the way for today’s global economy. But British imperialism isn’t without controversy, and it continues to cause enormous disagreement among historians today. Over six weeks, we’ll explore the British Empire through six themes - money, violence, race, religion, gender and sex, and propaganda. You’ll get to hear the stories of the fascinating individuals who contributed to both its rise and fall. Along the way, you’ll be able to debate the questions these themes raise with learners from around the world, and draw your own conclusions.

This course is an exciting opportunity for you to examine history from a fresh new perspective. The course is delivered over 6 weeks on the Open University's FutureLearn platform. Study is self-directed, requiring an estimated 3 hours per week.

Learn with experts in imperial history

Experts from the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter will be your guides. The Centre brings together the strong research expertise of the University’s eminent imperial historians. It comprises one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK.

The lead educator for this course is Richard Toye - Professor of Modern History and author of several acclaimed books, including: “Churchill’s Empire: the World That Made Him and the World He Made.” Richard has provided a taste of this course in his post for the FutureLearn blog: “Why is the British Empire still so controversial?

You can start to explore Empire and find out the Centre for Imperial and Global History on its blog, or by following @ExeterCIGH on Twitter.

Sign up now

Watch the trailer, find out more and enrol now on the FutureLearn website. It takes minutes.