Why Study Archaeology at Christ's?

Visiting Christ's
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Christ’s has been famous for Archaeology since the 16th century, when antiquarian John Leyland – ‘the father of English local history’ – studied here. In the Victorian era our students included eminent Egyptologist and Director of the British Museum, E.A. Wallis Budge, whose legacy has enabled us to provide strong support for Archaeology. In fact, we usually have a Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellow at the College.

The College has an excellent library, particularly for Egyptology, and many of the world’s leading Egyptologists have been members of Christ’s during their careers. These include Salima Ikram, Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo and Stephen Quirke, the current Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College London.

In the past students came to us through broader courses such as Archaeology and Anthropology, then Human, Social and Political Sciences, before we launched our popular single-subject course in 2017.

Our Archaeology graduates have gone into areas including commercial and field archaeology, education, conservation, museums, international development, logistics, the diplomatic service, urban planning, publishing, information architecture, politics, trade unionism, the civil service, business development, banking, law and the charity sector.

Course content and structure

Archaeology covers a broad range of topics, from the evolution of humans through the development of farming, ancient societies and world empires, to heritage in modern societies.

The course (or ‘tripos’) is a three-year degree during which you can follow a particular stream, choosing from:

  • Archaeology (covering all world cultures)
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Egyptology and Assyriology

Please visit the University website for full details of the Archaeology course content and structure.


Christ’s students enjoy the fact that we’re one of the closest colleges to the Department of Archaeology and the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology on the Downing Site.

Your lectures are arranged by the University and you also have weekly ‘supervisions’. These are one-to-one or small-group tutorial sessions which give you the advantage of personally-tailored tuition.

Christ’s Director of Studies for Archaeology is Dr Kate Spence, a Fellow of Emmanuel College whose research focuses on the built environment and culture of Ancient Egypt and Sudan. She guides you through your course and arrange your weekly supervisions.

How to apply

Visit How to Apply for full details and a timeline of the application process. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and school types, all over the world. If you're applying from outside the UK, please read our international students section.

  • On interviews: students who apply in October 2022 and are selected for interview will be interviewed online - you will not need to travel to Cambridge. For more detail see the interviews section below.
  • The written assessment for Archaeology is College registered. That means that you do not need to register for it. If you are invited for online interviews, we will organise it for you automatically.

Subjects: what do you need?

Students chatting by the pigeon holesArchaeology is a broad subject which allows you to specialise in many areas. The course encourages study of topics ranging across the humanities, social sciences and sciences, so there are no required or recommended courses.

We welcome applications from those studying:

  • Humanistic fields such as History, English, Classics or ancient languages
  • Social Sciences such as Geography, Sociology, Psychology or Anthropology
  • Sciences such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics

Applicants for Egyptology and Assyriology should be enthusiastic about studying languages.

Written work

After we receive your application, we ask you to send us two examples of recent marked work that you feel accurately reflect your abilities and interests. These should be work written during the normal course of your studies and already marked by a teacher. We recommend you keep copies for your own reference, as we may discuss them at interview.

We publish full guidelines on written work in the Current Applicants section on 20 September each year.


If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. Those invited for Cambridge interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in Archaeology.

We don’t expect you to have any background in archaeology, as it’s a very varied field and not usually taught in schools. Simply be prepared to talk about your relevant interests and any potential directions you might want to explore.

Take a look at the information and short films on Cambridge admissions interviews to find out what to expect.

Written assessment (College registered)

Third Court
Third Court, with the Blyth Building on the far side.

If we invite you for interview, we ask you to take a written assessment at the end of November (it will not be on the same day as your interviews). We arrange this automatically so you don’t need to register, and you do the same assessment regardless of which college you apply to.

The Archaeology Written Assessment lasts one hour. It’s designed to assess your ability to interpret texts and write about them, based on material we supply on the day. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance or have specific prior knowledge. Further information including the format and sample questions is available in the University course information for Archaeology.

You will be able to complete the assessment remotely and upload your work - you will not need to travel for it. Details of how the assessment will work will be given to students selected for interview by email.


You need to be academically ambitious: for Archaeology our typical conditional offer is A*AA at A-level, or for IB students 42 points overall with 7,7,6 in Higher Level subjects, but the majority of Christ’s students arrive with higher grades. If you're taking another qualification, we expect you to be working at or close to the top of the mark range (thus Option Internationale du Baccalauréat candidates are asked to achieve at least 17/20 overall, with 17 or 18 in relevant subjects, and candidates taking the European Baccalaureate need at least 85% overall, with 9/10 in relevant subjects, for example). Read about offer levels in other exam systems and international entrance requirements.

If you will have finished school when you apply, read about post-qualification applications

Helpful resources

Reading list Suggestions so you can choose according to your interests – we don’t expect you to have read all of these if you come for interview!
HE+ Archaeology Resources for students who would like to explore Archaeology
A History of the World in 100 objects Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity's history through the objects we have made.
Naked Archaeology Archaeology podcast
Archaeological Review A bi-annual journal of archaeology run on a non-profit voluntary basis by University of Cambridge researchers
Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Many archaeology practicals take place here due to its large teaching collection of objects. It’s free to the public so visit if you can.
Gresham College Lectures Use the search function to find the Archaeology lectures
Taster lecture

The Political Economy of Precolonial African States

Recording Archaeology YouTube channel showing presentations from conferences 
Women in Archaeology An Archaeology blog about, for, and by women in the Field
Archaeology Podcast Network Free podcasts
Skills & techniques Find out about some of the skills and techniques used in Archaeology
Events for prospective students Do feel free to book a place on an archaeology event, and why not come to visit Christ's on the same day? 
CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working.


Attend an Open Day / webinar

Student Q&A film
  Watch the Christ's student Q&A film

Our open days and events page advertises regular online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge. If you can, sign up for a College Open Day (our October, February and September events normally include a meeting with a subject specialist). Between February and August we run regular webinars:

  • Subject Matters: The importance of post-16 subject choices (this one is also run Sept - Nov)
  • Cambridge for Beginners
  • Christ's College: A look at the Grounds and Facilities
  • Personal Statements and preparing for an application

Further subject-specific opportunities you might wish to consider include Subject Masterclasses organised by Cambridge Admissions Office, and subject-specific talks in the July Cambridge Open Days. If you are a UK student from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you can apply to attend a Sutton Trust Summer School in Archaeology or to shadow a current undergraduate studying Archaeology via the Cambridge SU Shadowing Scheme (do be aware that there's a high proportion of applicants to places for both of these last two opportunities so please don't be discouraged if you don't get a place).

Want more information?

For more detail about what the course involves, please read Undergraduate Archaeology admissions on the University website and visit the Department of Archaeology site too.

If you have any queries at all, please contact us at admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk and we’ll be happy to advise.

Undergraduate Admissions / Subject list / How to apply / Why Christ's?