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Years 2 & 3




In the second and third years you choose to specialise in a subject “track”, where you can develop your knowledge and skills in the area that most interests you: Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Biological Anthropology and Archaeology, Egyptology, Assyriology, Assyriology and Egyptology. 

The papers you take depend on which track you are doing. None of the tracks presuppose that you took particular papers or combinations of papers in the first year.

Whichever track you choose, your degree will be in Archaeology, but on your official transcript the track will be added in brackets, e.g. “Archaeology (Egyptology)”.



The second and third year specialisation in Archaeology trains you in using material evidence to explore the nature and development of particular societies, and to explain the variations and commonalities of the human past in all its intellectual, social and cultural richness.

Year 2 (Part IIA)

You take two papers in theory and practice and data analysis, one covering the archaeology of a particular period or region, and either another period/region paper or one from Classics or HSPS. Fieldwork consists of a week overseas at Easter, and four weeks of fieldwork in the summer before you start Year 3.

Year 3 (Part IIB)

All students study advanced archaeological thought and archaeology in the wider world and a Special Topic, plus one or two papers from options within this course, Classics or HSPS. All students also write a dissertation.

Sample paper topics

The following, partly drawn from previous years, are a representative sample of the sorts of papers that might be on offer:

Early Historic South Asia

The Archaeology of Iran

Theories of Material Culture

European Prehistory

Introduction to archaeological science

Advanced topics in archaeological science

Rome and the Barbarians

Origins of medieval Europe

The archaeology of islands

Introduction to soil micromorphology

Museum Archaeology

Archaeologies of the Anthropocene



Biological Anthropology is the study of the place that humans occupy in nature, and the origin and pattern of human diversity. With an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture, it sits firmly between the social and biological sciences. The specialization in the second and third year provides an understanding of our evolutionary history, adaptations, genetics, behaviour, and human health and disease, with a particular emphasis on how these factors relate to social and behavioural change.

Year 2 (Part IIA)

Three compulsory papers explore behavioural ecology, human origins, and health and disease. You select your fourth from options offered elsewhere in this course or HSPS.

Year 3 (Part IIB)

You take a theory and practice paper, and three more surveying current issues across biological anthropology and the other course subjects (you can substitute one for a dissertation or a paper from HSPS).

Papers in Biological Anthropology are also available to students on BBS and MVST. A list of these and summary of the papers can be found at the link below:

BBS and MVST Biological Anthropology papers 2018-19


Studying Biological Anthropology and Archaeology together will enrich your understanding of both disciplines, and how they can be combined to study the human past.



Assyriology is the study of the languages, cultures, history and archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia – Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria.  These areas correspond to modern Iraq, and parts of Syria and Turkey. 

You can study Babylonian and Assyrian in all three years, and Sumerian in the third year.  Visits to museums are organised several times a year.

Year 2 (Part IIA)

You take four papers: Mesopotamian archaeology, Akkadian language, and two from other course options (one can be from Classics or HSPS). You also undertake a four-week study tour and/or fieldwork.

Year 3 (Part IIB)

You take advanced Akkadian language and Mesopotamian archaeology papers, and one on Mesopotamian history or culture or Sumerian language. The fourth is one of around 20 options available or a dissertation.



Year 2 (Part IIA)

You take papers in Egyptian language and archaeological methods and concepts, plus two papers on ancient Egyptian archaeology and culture. You also undertake a four-week study tour and/or fieldwork.

Year 3 (Part IIB)

Alongside a core Egyptian language paper and two Egyptian archaeology papers, all students write a dissertation.



Joint study of Assyriology and Egyptology, including both Egyptian and Akkadian, provides you with one of the broadest backgrounds in Ancient Near Eastern Studies offered by any undergraduate degree programme in the world.