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 has two 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. 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 Anna Florin 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.
Typical Entry Requirements
A Level: A*AA
International Baccalaureate: 42 points, with 776 at Higher Level
Essential Subjects: None
Desirable Subjects: 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.
Submitted Work: None
At-interview Assessment: All applicants will take a 60 minute 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.
Archaeology spans a very broad subject area, and the course allows study of topics ranging across the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences.
Those who are invited to attend for interview will have one interview at St John's with the Director of Studies and one or two Fellows in Archaeology lasting approximately 35 minutes. Archaeology is a very broad discipline, so we don’t expect you to have read specific books or articles. However, we do expect that you will have explored aspects of the subject that interest you most through your own reading, using online resources, and/or by other means, for example visiting relevant museums or sites or attending outreach events. You will find some suggested books, articles, videos and vlogs in the Department of Archaeology’s reading and resource list and details of outreach events organised by the Department of Archaeology on the Department’s website. Interview questions might explore what sparked your interest in Archaeology, which area of the field particularly interests you and why, and/or things that you mention in your personal statement. We might also show you an archaeological artefact or data (or images of them) as a starting point for discussion. If shown images or objects, we do not expect you to be able to identify them to a specific period or culture, or to have any prior knowledge about them. In fact, the idea is that you won’t be familiar with them already, so we can see what you observe and your own ideas you have about how we might approach studying that item, or what it might be able to tell us about the past.
For more information on the course, see here.