Certificate in Archaeological Studies


RAU Swindon


1 year (full time) or 2+ years (part time)

Academic Year

Commences either 30 September 2024 or 27 January 2025

Archaeology is not only the study of the past, it is the study of ourselves. Archaeology feeds into current political debates around identity, how we feel about our past, and who we want to be. Large infrastructure projects also ensure it is a profession in increasing demand. From site assistants, to managers, finds specialists and consultants, archaeology is a rewarding and challenging career, requiring a wide and varied range of skills and knowledge.

Course overview

The RAU has been at the forefront of land-based education for more than 180 years, and to study archaeology here is a natural choice. The programme is taught in the Cultural Heritage Institute, the RAU’s Swindon campus and the ‘heritage’ capital of England, home to the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic England. It provides unparalleled opportunities to work with key heritage agencies and to gain professional insights.

If you are interested in studying Archaeology but cannot commit to the full MSc programme then studying for a Certificate (PGCert) may be the route for you. It is designed to give learners a broad and thorough grounding in the challenging and fast-paced archaeology sector. It will equip you with the wider contextual and practical skills to allow you to engage analytically with a variety of archaeological sites and materials. As the course progresses, you will be able to follow your developing interests and tailor the direction of your assessed learning to pursue a variety of archaeology careers. This course provides a more flexible pathway into archaeology, ideal for those who have a particular specialism or area of interest they would like to build upon, or those who wish to gain a broad range of experiences across the sector.

What is a Postgraduate Certificate?

The PGCert - or Postgraduate Certificate - is the shortest of our Masters level offerings, which is completed by studying four modules (60 credits). It allows you to study a specific area of the course in depth but takes less time to complete than the MSc or PGDip.

The PGCert is a great way of fitting postgraduate study around a busy life. Full-time students can complete the course in as little as one year. Part-time students can choose to spread the course up to two years, giving you lots of time for thinking and writing between modules. It is ideal if you want to study a specific subject but would rather not commit to a full MSc with its attendant time and financial costs.

It can be a great way into a career in a new industry but if you desire to continue your studies, PGCert credits can be used to contribute towards a PGDip or even an MSc qualification later down the line. Completing studies using this route is often likened to building blocks – one step at a time – the first step being a PGCert.

*Please note, Visa students must be full-time (a min of 15 hours per week) and will need to attend all sessions in person due to UKVI visa requirements

Course content

This programme has specifically been designed to meet the needs of postgraduate learners many of whom may be combining study with work and/or caring or other responsibilities. Teaching is designed to be fully flexible, to allow full participation for both part-time and full-time students. You can enter the programme in either September or January.

All sessions are offered in a hybrid format and you can choose whether to attend any session in-person or to participate remotely, as best suits your needs. We do recommend that you attend field trips in-person to get the most from your experience. All in-class sessions are recorded live and made available to students who prefer to access the sessions asynchronously.* The teaching sessions are timetabled on Thursdays and Fridays, with each module being taught 10:00-12:00 and then 13:00-15:00/16:00 on the same day, each week, for the full year (both semesters). This allows you to fulfil other commitments you may have, such as work, family and interests. Full-time students study on both days, with part-time students on just one.

Our sessions are built around exercises to support and scaffold the learning process, and to provide valuable opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. Material is taught in workshop format combining formal elements, such as lectures, with more hands-on exploratory or consolidatory exercises, for example discussions, ‘live’ group research to explore or apply a particular concept, group-critique sessions, supported writing exercises, and problem-based learning.

*Visa students will need to attend all sessions in person due to UKVI visa requirements.

Course structure

All students will take the core Debates in Archaeology module and can then choose to specialise in either Landscape, Excavation and post-excavation, Historic Buildings or Cultural Heritage Management.

Our PGCert is designed to be ultra-accessible. All classes are offered both in person and synchronously online, with session recordings available for students unable to attend a particular session. 


Timetables are normally available one month before registration.

The in-person teaching sessions are timetabled on Thursdays and Fridays, with each module being taught 10:00-12:00 and then 13:00-15:00/16:00 on the same day, each week, for the full year (both semesters). This allows you to fulfil other commitments you may have, such as work, family and interests. Full-time students study on both days, with part-time students on just one.


  • 4730 Debates in Archaeology

PLUS a choice of ONE elective from:

  • 4729 Landscape Archaeology
  • 4731 Evacuation and Post Excavation
  • 4734 Practical Conservation, Regeneration and Place Shaping
  • 4735 Managing and Sustaining the Historical Environment
  • 4736 Heritage Interpretation

* Optional additions to the course will incur additional charges

Disclaimer information

The University has established various rules and regulations that you must agree to and follow if you accept an offer to study with us. View our full disclaimer notice.

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Careers and graduate destinations

This programme will help learners develop an in-depth and applied understanding of archaeological practice enabling graduates to pursue a wide range of careers in the sector.

On completion of the course you will be able to work in commercial archaeology at any of the numerous commercial units, built environment management, planning, regeneration projects, heritage organisations such as Historic England, English Heritage and the National Trust, heritage site interpretation archaeological outreach and education, or as self-employed archaeology consultants.

It also provides an excellent grounding for further academic study, for example at PGDip or MSc level.

"I aspire to pursue a career in Archaeology or Heritage, and I have found the Cultural Heritage Institute to be an excellent resource for acquiring the essential skills and knowledge required for this field."

Maximus Maillard, Student

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Entry requirements

An Undergraduate Honours Degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university or overseas equivalent, or a professional qualification and/or experience considered to be equivalent to the above. For information on international qualifications, please, see our country specific pages. For countries not listed please contact admissions@rau.ac.uk.

We welcome applications from applicants with non-standard qualifications who are able to demonstrate knowledge, experience and skills developed in the workplace or elsewhere and which are relevant to the programme of study. Applicants will need to use their personal statement to provide further details supported by a CV. All non-standard applications will be considered by the Programme Manager on a case-by-case basis and applicants can expect that an interview may be required as part of the admissions process.

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our English language requirements for the level of study. For postgraduate taught programmes this is IELTS Academic min. overall 6.5 with no element below 5.5 (or equivalent). English language tests usually have a validity of 2 years from the date the test is taken.

Offers will typically be made in line with the academic requirements set out above. Offers can be conditional or unconditional. An unconditional offer will be made to applicants who have already met the conditions and provided evidence that conditions have been met. Where academic or language requirements have not yet been fulfilled, applicants will receive a conditional offer stating the requirements that must be met. 

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Tuition fees cover the cost of a student’s academic studies. This usually includes teaching costs, registration and examination fees (not repeat or trailing module fees, or dissertation extensions).

2024-25 Applicants

For the academic year 2024-25 the tuition fees for this course are:  

  UK Overseas/EU
Full-time £3,650 per year £6,017 per year
Part-time Fees are calculated on a pro-rata basis depending on the number of modules taken. Please refer to Tuition Fees webpage N/A

Please note: International students can study on a part-time basis only if they are in the UK with a different type of visa (other than Student Visa/Tier 4 General) that allows them to undertake part-time study and their visa does not expire prior to the end date of the proposed course of study.

There are no additional fees for any activity conducted during the teaching days. Expenses (travel and admission) incurred during self-directed visits will however fall to the student – all activities are structured so they can be undertaken at any heritage location near to the student and either free or at minimum cost.

Please contact admissions@rau.ac.uk before you apply to confirm your eligibility.

Tuition fees may be subject to an inflationary increase each year as set out in our Access and Participation Plan 2019/20.

For full details, please visit the fees and funding webpage.



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