Archaeology BA (Hons)

Course code V400

What is special about this course?

With world-renowned archaeological heritage sites such as Skara Brae, Maeshowe, the Camster Cairns and Mousa Broch, what better place could there be to study archaeology than in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland?

Our BA (Hons) Archaeology* is closely linked to the distinctive cultural heritage of Scotland, but also places all of that within a much broader global context. 

The degree will provide you with a detailed understanding of the practice of archaeology. You will also develop your own practical skills in archaeology through hands on experience and archaeological placements.

You will receive research-led teaching from lecturers engaged in world-class research on projects from the Scottish Islands, the UK and Ireland, to the Atlantic region and Polynesia.

There is a strong emphasis on developing archaeological skills in a number of areas including: field archaeology (for example, excavation and survey); environmental archaeology (for example, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany and osteoarchaeology), together with digital archaeology, such as photogrammetry; and archaeological illustration.

Dig in deep to discover more….

Please see our FAQ sheet for further information on this course.

*subject to revalidation

Special features

  • A highly practical course focusing on necessary ‘on-the-job’ skills such as surveying, fieldwork and post-excavation practices
  • Our studies are linked to the distinctive cultural heritage of Scotland – what learning experience could be richer?
  • You can study full-time or part-time to suit your personal circumstances
  • You can study individual modules for personal or professional development


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

Entry to year one:

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade BBC or above, or
  • 2 A levels at grade BC or above
  • At least two should be from the list of relevant academic subjects.
  • Applicants with other relevant qualifications or experience will be considered on an individual basis

Advanced entry to year two:

  • HNC Social Sciences (12 SQA credits) with 3 additional SQA credits at level 7, and at least grade C in the Graded Unit, will be considered for direct entry to year two

Access routes

SWAP Access courses
If you are eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP), please visit our SWAP access list for further information on grade profiles and available subjects.

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules are:  

  • Archaeological theory and method
  • World archaeology
  • Historic landscapes

You will also choose three option modules which may include:

  • Science and archaeology
  • European prehistories
  • One module from our range of humanities subjects

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules are:

  • Excavation skills (residential): should be taken in semester 2 of year 2, as well as a compulsory field school in the summer, at a site location off-campus
  • Scottish archaeology
  • Digital heritage
  • Managing archaeology for contemporary society

You will also choose two option modules which may include: wetland archaeology; and one from our range of humanities subjects

Year 3 - BA

Core modules are:

  • Archaeology and interpretation
  • Archaeology project
  • Archaeological sciences

You will also choose:

  • One or both from: pre-history of the Highlands and Islands; and historical archaeology of the Highlands and Islands
  • Plus further option modules from either archaeology or our range of humanities subjects

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

Core modules are:

  • Sustainability past and present
  • Dissertation (archaeology)

You will study an additional three modules from the list of options below; availability rotates each year and is dependent on minimum numbers:

  • Funerary and burial archaeology
  • Maritime archaeology and heritage of Northern Scotland
  • The Iron Age of Scotland c800BC-800AD
  • Peoples, plants and animals
  • Vikings and Norse archaeology
  • Neolithic Scotland
  • Landscape archaeology

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • ​Part-time (unstructured)
  • You will learn through a combination of scheduled video conference lectures and tutorials, and online study via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors. There is normally a weekly two-hour timetabled video conference lecture for each module. You will also undertake practical fieldwork and project work.
  • International students requiring a Student Route visa to study in the UK should apply to UHI Orkney and must be based there during their studies.
  • For more information, or if you have any questions about studying archaeology at UHI, please contact us at:


How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years @ 35 hours per week
  • Part-time: 8 years @ 12 to 18 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll
  • HTC
  • Inverness
  • Moray
  • North, West and Hebrides
  • Orkney
  • Perth
  • Shetland

Start date

  • September


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

Additional costs

 You will be responsible for covering the costs of any travel and accommodation associated in your participation in the field schools

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have completed your BA (Hons) Archaeology degree you might like to consider careers in:

  • Archaeological contract units
  • Consultancy
  • Archives and museums
  • Government agencies and local authorities
  • Media and politics
  • Tourism and heritage management
  • Teaching

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress from the BA (Hons) Archaeology to the following postgraduate courses:

Is there more information available online?

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The university is a modern institution that puts Highland history at the forefront of its efforts, rather than relegating it to a provincial interest. I have had opportunity to work on excavation of Dùn Naomhaig (Dunyvaig) castle in Islay. This was a dream come true. My time spent volunteering in Orkney not only gave me the archaeological skillset to get involved in this project, but provided a practical background from which I could broaden my understanding of the new site. Having just begun planning my dissertation centred on the Lordship of the Isles, this knowledge has already proven incredibly useful in informing my view of them.

Duncan Foxley is in his third year of the BA (Hons) Archaeology and Scottish History at our UHI Orkney campus.

I graduated with a first-class honours in Archaeology in October 2019, by which time I had taken a huge leap of faith and moved my family to Orkney to undertake the MSc in Archaeological Practice at UHI Orkney. Unfortunately, as with everyone else in the world, Covid-19 has had an impact my plans, however I’m close to finishing my dissertation and am on track for a distinction. The kids have settled really well and everyone agrees it was the best decision we could have made.

Studying with this university was the best thing I’ve ever done. The online facilities which make a wide variety of courses available to people in rural areas, allowed me to discover a subject I love, and the fantastic staff supported me throughout. It gave me confidence in my own abilities and the opportunity to change the lives of our family undoubtedly for the better. 

I’d absolutely urge anyone thinking about studying to go for it. I can’t tell you it’s easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile. 

Mandy Dailly graduated with a first-class honours in Archaeology from UHI West Highland in October 2019 before progressing onto the MSc in Archaeological Practice at UHI Orkney.

The course content was probably the main thing that made it right for me, but the class sizes were important as well. I had a slight fear of having to sit in a big lecture hall, but with VC classes you don’t have that. I had considered other universities but the course content offered here was closer to what I wanted to study. My advice would be to have fun, get to know other people on your course, and never be afraid to ask for help.

Lucy Brayson, BA (Hons) Archaeology student.

Apply for Archaeology BA (Hons)

  • Applications to this course are now closed for September 2023 entry. Applications for September 2024 will open in September 2023. Please revisit this page then to apply.

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.