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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Department of Archaeology offers an outstanding environment for independent research leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The Archaeology Programme at Cambridge has been ranked number one overall in the UK for the fifth year in a row by the independent Complete University Guide

Our supervision expertise in archaeological topics ranges in time from the Palaeolithic to the modern day, and in space from the Americas to the UK and Europe, Africa, the Ancient Near East (including research in the languages, texts, history, and archaeology of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia), South Asia, South East Asia and Australia. We also offer PhD supervision in archaeological theory, archaeological science, human evolution, material culture studies and museum and heritage studies.

PhD students are required to submit a dissertation of up to 80,000 words. This work will represent a significant and novel contribution to the fields of Archaeology, Assyriology, Biological Anthropology, Egyptology or Heritage Studies.


All PhD students are assigned a supervisor and an advisor and may have additional co-supervisors and/or advisors who make up their ‘supervisory team’. You will have frequent meetings with your supervisor and other team members, either together or individually.  PhD students receive a progress review at the end of their second and fourth terms. These assessments take the form of a progress report and interview with their supervisor and other teaching staff at the end of the second term and a 10,000-word pilot study and research outline at the end of the fourth term. 

During the first year, we provide training in research skills and appropriate research methods (e.g., GIS, lab skills, advanced languages).


Our facilities for supporting PhD research are excellent, and our postgraduate community is vibrant and stimulating. The Haddon Library is conveniently located within the main Archaeology building and houses a wide range of specialist archaeological and anthropological literature, journals, access to online catalogues and wireless internet access.

Our Archaeological Science Laboratories  support specific scientific research projects, including Geoarchaeology, Bioarchaeology, Computational Archaeology, Archaeogenetics, Zooarchaeology, Isotopic Analysis and Material Culture.

The Department of Archaeology hosts an official student society, the Archaeological Field Club, which runs a speaker series and organizes other events. Students in Archaeology publish their own academic journal—the Archaeological Review from Cambridge.

The postgraduate community also organises subject-specific discussion groups which run events throughout the acadmic year; please see the Departmental Seminar Series calendar for examples of current events.


If you are interested in applying for admission as a PhD student in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, you are strongly encouraged to email your potential supervisor(s) about your research topic before applying. The PhD is a three-year degree, so it is important that applicants have a well-developed project at the point of application.

General queries about the PhD programmes should be addressed to the Department's Graduate Secretary. A searchable list of PhD courses at the University of Cambridge can be found in the Graduate Admissions Course Directory.

To apply for admission to PhD research in the Archaeology Department, you should visit the Graduate Admissions Office website and consult the information on the application procedure found in the University of Cambridge Graduate Studies Prospectus.

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Masters (Merit) or the equivalent.

If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.

All applicants for the PhD will be contacted to arrange a brief interview prior to any offer of a place being made; this interview may be by telephone or Skype.

Current MPhil students in Assyriology or Egyptology at the University of Cambridge wishing to continue to the PhD with an ancient language-based research topic must achieve a Merit in relevant language exams (as well as a Merit in the MPhil course) in order to be permitted to continue. Admission for the PhD is not automatic on achieving a Merit; other factors, including the availability of appropriate supervision, are taken into consideration.

Suggestions for successful application

PhD Enquiry to the Department

Doctor of Philosophy at Cambridge