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.
What we look for


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

Applicants who are shortlisted for interview will need to take a one hour written assessment. 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 2022-23, we’ll be interviewing shortlisted applicants virtually, with interviews taking place in December.

The interview process aims to assess your intellectual ability, potential, and commitment to the subject. Candidates are typically interviewed by at least three subject specialists, including the Director of Studies, and total contact time will be between 35-50 minutes in total. This could be in a single interview, or in two separate interviews. Further details will be made available to candidates closer to the time.

Find out more about the interview process on the University website.

Written work

Applicants are required to submit one piece of written work. This should be in essay format (not science coursework or a timed exam) with a word limit of up to 1,500 words. The work can be extracted from an EPQ. 

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.