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Image of Archaeology students
Photo: Dave Webb


  • Number of students per year: up to two
  • Typical offer: A*AA or equivalent
  • Essential subjects: none
  • Useful subjects: any combinations

Jesus College has a strong tradition in Archaeology, and a vibrant group of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

We put the emphasis on students developing their abilities, gaining transferrable skills but especially learning to be reflexive, and to apply critical thinking to the study of our past. Examining contemporary uses and abuses of history is a key aspect of Archaeology at Jesus. 

We have a long history in the discipline. Emeritus Professor Lord Colin Renfrew was Master of the College between 1986 and 1997, as well as the Disney Professor of Archaeology, and Professor Marie Louise Stig Sørensen continues this tradition. Both Renfrew and Sørensen are active researchers, running field projects in Greece, Hungary, and Cape Verde, and contributing to the development of the field.

Many Archaeology students from Jesus have joined these projects as part of their training, and our students regularly take part in department activities, such as the Archaeology Field Club. Over the years, our students have gone on to a range of professions, from academia to the media, teaching, or law.

The College has excellent study facilities, such as the Quincentenary Library, which is well stocked with resources in archaeology and related fields.

Find out more on the University webpage.


Our typical offer is for an A* and two A grades at A-Level, or equivalent. 

The main requirement for studying Archaeology is that you are curious about the nature of society. Do you wonder why society has developed in certain ways? Why was agriculture ‘invented’? Why did people accept the tyranny of empires? What characterised gender relations in the past? You should have an interest in how we can answer these questions, as well as finding the answers themselves.

Archaeology is a distinct field, but it is interdisciplinary in its methods – ranging from textual analysis to DNA - so you don't need to have studied specific subjects to apply. We welcome applicants with a strong academic profile, whether you lean towards science or arts.


No specialist knowledge is required, but we expect you to be able to demonstrate your interest in the subject. The most obvious way to do this is through reading, but you might have had the chance to carry out a project on a topic in archaeology, have done some work in a museum, or joined an archaeological excavation.

Here are our suggestions for useful books to read as an introduction to studying Archaeology:

  • Morris, I. (2015) Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve, Princeton University Press.
  • Parker Pearson, M. (2012) Stonehenge Explained: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery, Simon and Schuster.
  • Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. (2008) Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, Thames and Hudson.
  • Scarre, C. (ed) (2009) The Human Past: World Prehistory and Development of Human Society, Thames and Hudson.

Written assessment

You'll need to take a one hour written assessment when you come up for interview. You don't need to register in advance, you'll get all the details in the letter inviting you to interview.

How well you do in the assessment won't be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside all the other elements of your application.

Archaeology Admissions Assessment Specification (Sample paper)


In light of Covid we are currently reviewing whether we shall be holding virtual or College-based interviews and will provide further details in the future.

In order to minimise COVID-related risks to our applicants, students and staff, all 2020 interviews were held online. A typical online interview for Archaeology usually consists of one 45 minute online interview with the Director of Studies for Archaeology and subject Fellows. The interview aim to assess your intellectual ability, enthusiasm, and commitment to the subject. However, this format may change depending on government guidelines for 2021.

There is the possibility that interviews this year could take place in College or virtually once more. We will provide further details as soon as we are able.

Written work

You don't need to submit any written work with your application.

Deferred and post A-Level entry

We're happy to consider applications for either immediate or deferred entry in Archaeology, or from people who have already taken their A-Levels or equivalent qualification. We welcome applications from mature students.

Find out how to apply to study at Jesus.


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