Archaeology uses the material and biological remains of past societies to study what it means to be human, from millions of years ago to the immediate past. It uses methods drawn from the humanities, social sciences and sciences. The Cambridge degree allows students to explore themes across this vast canvas as their interests develop, developing specialisms in Archaeology (all cultures), the study of the first civilizations and their languages (Assyriology and Egyptology), or Biological Anthropology.
St John's is the only College in Cambridge to have three Fellows who are also members of the Department of Archaeology. Dr Preston Miracle is an expert on human prehistory, zooarchaeology and archaeological theory. He has excavated at a wide range of sites, with his most recent fieldwork being in Croatia. Dr Martin Worthington is an Assyriologist who specialises Babylonian, Assyrian and Sumerian grammar, literature and medicine. Professor Graeme Barker (Disney Professor of Archaeology Emeritus) works especially on the dispersal of our species out of africa and the origins of agriculture. He has excavated in many parts of the world, currently in Iraqi Kurdistan. Other Fellows and members of St John's with Archaeology-related interests include Dr Emmanuelle Honoré, Dr Sarah Inskip, Dr Emma Loftus, and Professor Tim Bayliss-Smith (retired).
With the Department of Archaeology and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge is one of the largest centres of archaeological research in Britain, and we have now for several years running been awarded top place in the Good University Guide for Archaeology in the UK. Archaeology students at Cambridge benefit from direct hands-on access to world-class collections in Cambridge’s many museums, libraries, and research centres.
Archaeology spans a very broad subject area, and the course allows study of topics ranging across the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. Students with almost any combination of subjects at school can apply; there are no specific required subjects. We welcome applications from students studying humanistic fields such as History, English, Classics, and ancient languages, social sciences such as Geography, Sociology, Psychology, or Anthropology, and sciences such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
Our typical conditional offer for Archaeology is A-Level: A*AA, IB offers are usually for a total of 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level. For Scottish Advanced Highers, offers usually require AAA at Advanced Higher Grade, although in some cases, two Advanced Highers and an additional Higher may be acceptable. Three Advanced Highers are expected within the Scottish Baccalaureate.
Those who are invited to attend for interview will have two or three interviews at St John's. Two of these are subject interviews will the Fellows in Archaeology, and the third interview will be with the Tutor for Archaeology. Applicants are not expected to have any standard background in Archaeology, as the field is highly varied, there are many relevant backgrounds and the subject is often not taught in schools; however, they should be prepared to discuss their academic interests and potential study plans. Requests for remote interviews may be considered.
All applicants will take a written assessment in College, based on the reading of material that we will supply. This hour-long assessment is designed to assess the ability to interpret texts and to write, and no special preparation or prior knowledge is required at any stage of the application process. More information can be found on the University’s webpage for Admissions Assessments.