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Department of Archaeology


The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research is the intellectual home for archaeologists at Cambridge. It is led by the Director, Deputy Director and a small team of professional staff. It is governed by a Managing Committee of Senior Academics and Professional Staff. We host a wide range of affiliated postdoctoral academics across several distinct categories and aim to create a vibrant, diverse and dynamic community dedicated to rigorous intellectual debate and activity. We welcome staff and visitors though a range of routes (see below) and strongly encourage applicants from underrepresented groups.


Visiting Scholars 

Visiting Scholars of postdoctoral standing with a track record in archaeology (broadly defined) wishing to visit us for a period of time between 1 and 12 months (normally as a break or sabbatical from their current employment) to undertake collaborative meetings, discussions, planning, writing or other non-work/paid activities are very welcome. Visiting Scholars will normally be employed in another academic institution for the duration of their visit to Cambridge. Visiting Scholars must have a Member or Fellow to sponsor their visit and can apply with a letter of application and a copy of their CV. Further details on how to apply to become a visiting scholar can be found here.

Visiting Scholars are able to access University Libraries, are invited to attend seminars and events at the Institute and can make use of small number of hot-desks. Early Career Visitors may participate in Early Career events (including social and training events) on request. There are normally no-fees charged, although Visitors wishing to use Laboratory facilities will be expected to pay for these at normal laboratory rates, including Bench Fees. If such facilities are required they must be discussed and agreed with the appropriate Laboratory Director.

Visiting Scholars are responsible for making their own Visa, travel, subsistence and other arrangements. For visits of up to six months, and where you are a 'visa national', you must apply in advance of travel for a Standard visitor visa. Otherwise, if you are not a visa national you can seek entry as a visitor at the UK border for a period of up to six months.

For visits between six and twelve months maximum, in all cases you would need to apply for an Academic visitor visa in advance of travel. This cannot be sought at the UK border. Comprehensive guidance on the visitor visa/entry process can be found on the University’s webpages.

Visiting scholars cannot undertake paid work during their time with us.

Hosted Fellows 

We encourage applicants for competitive funded Postdoctoral positions (normally from sources outside of the UK) where the funding is held by the individual and/or other organisation and not by the McDonald Institute, but where the McDonald Institute supports the application, agrees to make the successful applicant a Fellow, and to act as an institutional host for all or part of the individual’s funding up to a maximum of two years in duration (referred to as Hosted Fellows). Such applicants would not normally hold a position of employment in another academic institution during the period in which they would be hosted at the McDonald Institute.

In such instances it is expected that the applicant secures a current member of the McDonald Institute as a sponsor and works with them to develop the project. It is also expected that the applicant and sponsor jointly discuss the project with our Research Facilitator Mr Nicholas Ward well in advance of the submission of the application and at least two months before hand. These discussions should include consideration of costings for the project and the specific facilities that will be required. Applicants will normally be expected to make a contribution to Institutional costs by paying a bench fee of £1000 per term. Applicants will also need to secure a Temporary Worker – GAE visa, sponsored by the University, cover their own Visa and NHS surcharge costs, and all travel, subsistence and research costs.

Applicants and sponsors planning to use Laboratory Facilities must discuss these with the appropriate Laboratory Director and fully cost the use of these facilities - this may include payment of additional Laboratory Bench Fees. Details of these costings must be supplied before the McDonald Institute can agree to support and host any such application. Successful applicants will not be employed by the McDonald Institute but will hold the UK right to conduct research at the McDonald Institute and will be considered as full Fellows of the McDonald Institute for the duration of their stay with the associated benefits, including access to mentoring and career development schemes and the ability to apply to the McDonald Institute Grants and Awards Committee for additional research funding in support of their work. Hosted Fellows must comply with institutional responsibilities such as ethical and risk assessment approvals. 

Further guidance on applications for Hosted Fellowship can be found here. Please note that the development of these fellowships and the required visa arrangments can take considerable time to process and these must be factored into the application timescale.

Honorary Research Associates

Our breadth of collaborations are recognised in our Honorary Research Associates (HRA). This status is for individuals who hold longstanding collaborations with Members and Fellows of the Institute and is a recognition of the esteem in which they and their research is held. Honorary Research Associates are normally resident outside of Cambridge, must be nominated by a current Member or Fellow, and approved by the Managing Committee. A call for HRA’s is announced in September and will be ciruclated to all current Members and Fellows. The proposal form may also be requested from the Institute's Administrator Emma Jarman.

Junior Research Fellowships

Applicants to Junior Research Fellowships at Cambridge Colleges must do so through the College and details of positions are normally advertised by the Colleges. If successful, Junior Research Fellows with a track record in archaeology (broadly defined) and employed by a Cambridge College, may apply to become a Fellow of the Institute (under 2.2 of the 'Criteria for McDonald Affiliation'). Similarly, postdoctoral researchers of archaeological standing but employed in departments other than archaeology and the McDonald Institute may apply for Fellowship. 

Successful applicants should notify the Institute's Administrator, Emma Jarman, who will seek ratification from the McDonald Managing Committee for Fellow status at the Institute.

Members and Fellows

The Institute is home to a large number of Members (Post-doctoral academics in long-term employment of the University) and Fellows (postdoctoral Early Career Researchers on fixed-term contracts employed within the University). Postdoctoral researchers employed within the Department of Archaeology or McDonald Institute are automatically Members or Fellows, while researchers engaged with archaeological research (broadly defined) employed elsewhere in the University (including other departments and colleges) are eligible for Membership or Fellowship on the basis of a short application and approval by the Managing Committee. Details of how to apply can be found here. Senior Fellows are individuals who have retired from the long-term employ of the University and who remain resident in Cambridge. The process for applications to Senior Fellowship can be found here and are normally renewable on application every three years, subject to Managing Committee approval AND and an ongoing academic programme. Members, Fellows and Senior Fellows of the Institute are eligible to use Institute facilities, hold research projects within the Institute, join our mentoring scheme and apply to our grants and awards fund.

Become a Fellow

The McDonald Institute directly employs a large number of Postdoctoral Early Career Researchers across a wide portfolio of projects and from a variety of sources of funding. These researchers are automatically Fellows of the Institute. We regularly advertise for vacant Postdoctoral Early Career Research positions on projects via our Vacancies page.

In addition we regularly advertise for applicants to a number of external funding competitions including British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships, Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships, BA International Fellowships and MSCA Fellowships among others. Applications to these and similar schemes are selective and made directly through the McDonald Institute. Current opportunities can be found here. Final decisions on applications are made by the awarding body and not the McDonald Institute. Successful candidates normally become employees and Fellows of the McDonald Institute. We also encourage research grant applications to a range of UKRI and International funding bodies. Anyone wishing to explore such opportunities should visit our Postdoctoral Opportunities page and contact our research facilitator Mr Nicholas Ward ( in the first instance.