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Archaeology A Level at Cirencester College

Course description

Archaeology is a fascinating subject that incorporates a variety of interests and skills relating to geography, history, geology, biology, chemistry, sociology, classics, environmental science, politics, religious studies, and anthropology.

You will learn how archaeologists discover, excavate and analyse sites with emphasis on practicality and using the latest hi-tech equipment. Surveying, using resistivity meters and theodolites, metal-detecting, field-walking and excavation will all be practically explored. There will be many opportunites to visit sites during the numerous field-trips which form an integral part of the course; previous locations have included Orkney, Ireland, Italy and Northumbria. Numerous day-trips supplement the Religion and Ritual unit, notably Avebury and Stonehenge. The specialist teaching team maintain an ethos where a hands-on approach is essential to the understanding and appreciation of this exciting subject and extra-curricular activities are a hugely successful element in this respect.

Experimental Archaeology is a growing interest of our Archaeological Society and recent activities have included designing and building a trebuchet as well as making bronze axes, smelting the metal on site. Our excellent results back up the effectiveness of this approach.

Course content

There are two units in the first year which run concurrently:

  • Unit 1: The Archaeology of Religion and Ritual
  • Unit 2: Archaeological Skills and Methods

Unit 1 explores belief systems and related activities, mortuary practices and their related structures, religious beliefs and ritual practices and ritual locations and specific structures. Unit 2 builds on your technical skills including discovering and recording sites and landscapes, archaeological excavation – justification, processes and on-site recovery techniques – and post-excavation dating and site interpretation.


The second (A2) year of Archaeology involves the study of a wide range of periods, cultures and regions such as Egypt, the Middle East, the Americas and Scandinavia. Topics covered include settlement, status, warfare, hunting, the development of agriculture, trade and transport, the organisation of societies and the role of women. You will also have an opportunity to do a personal study on a site of your choice, which allows students to carry out their own fieldwork and research, it is an ongoing project lasting throughout the year. The course units (below) are taught concurrently with a thematic approach:

  • Settlement and Society
  • Material Culture and Economics
  • Personal Study


  • Examination
  • Coursework

Future opportunities

Archaeology A Level can lead onto various University courses both within the field such as

  • Egyptology
  • History
  • Geography

but also across other subject areas including:

  • Military Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology

Archaeology can also be combined with most of these courses as a Joint Honours degree option. The technical drawing and research skills, ability to learn and work independetly, project manage and use specialist equipment developed across the Archaeology A Level, also make it an excellent choice for those considering Higher Education study and therefore a career in:

  • Sciences
  • Architecture
  • Forensics
  • Graphic Communication
  • Surveying

The Heritage Industry consistently needs to work with Archaeology specialists, many who take the subject further find employment with historic preservation organisations, Museums, English Heritage and the National Trust, both in practical roles and teaching or educating positions.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Cirencester College directly.

Last updated date: 27 January 2017
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