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Archaeologists employ material culture to study our human past. For students this is often an unfamiliar but exotic and exciting method of exploring bygone societies. The physical debris of the past is able to tell us much that the written evidence cannot. Most people were never able to document their own histories, and much of our human past unfolded before writing came into use.

By looking at the things we leave behind, we can travel back into deep time, before written history, to uncover our very earliest ancestors. We can explore ancient civilisations across the world through their greatest monuments and the minutiae of their daily lives. The discipline also provides insights into historical periods and even the present day, providing a counter narrative to the written and spoken word.

Archaeology combines the arts and the sciences to uncover traces of the past and bring to life lost peoples and cultures. Using the broad skill base that a degree in archaeology provides, students can go on to a wide variety of jobs such as those in museums, universities and government and private archaeology and heritage consultancy firms.

About the major

Archaeology is a dynamic discipline that has revolutionised our understanding of the human past. Evidence is continuously unearthed and reveals unexpected and exciting glimpses of our ancient past. The archaeology major allows you to explore these vistas of human history and to learn how archaeologists bring to life past societies.

The archaeology major will provide you with an understanding of the history of humans in a variety of times and places, to give you an insight into long-term trends in human life. A major in Archaeology will also equip you with the intellectual and practical skills to gather, analyse and interpret primary archaeological evidence to answer questions about prehistoric and historic societies.

The archaeology major contains broad coverage of the nature of archaeological work, and students may undertake specialist training in one of three regional areas: Australia, the Mediterranean, and Asia. Practical field and laboratory methods are taught, and there are opportunities to participate in fieldwork units locally and around the world, as well as in one of our intensive Summer Schools in Athens.

Requirements for completion

The Archaeology major and minor requirements are listed in the Archaeology unit of study table.

Advanced coursework

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the advanced coursework units of study page.


Currently NSW state authorities (for example the NSW Code of Practice for Archaeological Investigation and Heritage Council of New South Wales) and potential employers indicate that a bachelors degree with honours in Archaeology is the preferred qualification to undertake archaeological investigations in NSW.

The Archaeology Department offers an Honours program. Entry is in Semester 1; there is no mid-year entry to the program. Students will carry out a sustained research project (a 20,000 word thesis: ARCO4201 and ARCO4202), and are required to take two seminar-based study units:

  • ARCO4106 Advanced Archaeological Research 
  • SOFH4001 Breakthroughs in the Humanities 
Honours admission requirements

Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in Archaeology with an average of 70% or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where undertaking the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Archaeology honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

More information and current contact details for academic coordinators may be found at the Discipline of Archaeology website.

The Discipline of Archaeology is administered by the School of Humanities.