University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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The Department of Archaeology is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

About the major

Archaeology is the study of our human past through analysis of material culture.

By looking at the things we leave behind, we can travel back into deep time, before written history, to uncover our very earliest ancestors. We can explore ancient civilisations across the world through their greatest monuments and the minutiae of their daily lives. The discipline also provides insights into historical periods and even the present day, providing a counter narrative to the written and spoken word.

Archaeology combines the arts and the sciences to uncover traces of the past and bring to life lost peoples and cultures. Using the broad skill base that a degree in archaeology provides, students can go on to a wide variety of jobs such as those in museums, universities and government and private heritage/environmental consultancy firms.

A major in Archaeology will equip you with the intellectual and practical skills to gather, analyse and interpret primary archaeological evidence.

Pathway through the major

A major in Archaeology requires 36 senior credit points in Archaeology including ARCA2635 and at least six credit points at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Archaeology. The table shows units of study which are on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Archaeology offers two consecutive foundation units, ARCA1000 Early Humans: Hunters and Farmers and ARCA1001 Ancient Civilisations.

These units will introduce you to the story of our earliest ancestors and how they spread across the globe. Journeying on through the appearance of the first farmers and villagers, you will then explore the emergence of the major civilisations of the Old World. In your tutorials, you will learn how to use archaeological evidence as a tool to reconstruct the human past. No prior knowledge of archaeology or ancient history is assumed.

Progression to senior level units of study usually requires completion of two junior level units of study in Archaeology, but you may replace one of these with one of the following:

  • ANHS1600 Foundations for Ancient Greece
  • ANHS1601 Foundations for Ancient Rome
  • ANTH1001 Cultural Difference: An Introduction
  • ARHT1001 Art and Experience
  • HSTY1089 Australia: Conflict and Transformation.
Senior-intermediate units of study (2000 level)

For a major in Archaeology you must complete ARCA2635 Explanation and Theory in Archaeology.

This compulsory unit will underpin your senior studies by introducing you to the main themes and approaches of enquiry that form the basis of archaeological study such as cultural systems, gender and ethnoarchaeology.

When choosing your 2000 level units, you should consider what balance you want between:

  • archaeological skills-based study, for example field methods; digital methods, advanced archaeology practicum; archaeological principals and practice
  • thematic archaeology topics, for example archaeology in film; global dispersal of humans; mobility and the sedentary transition, and
  • regionally specific units that include Asian, Australian, Classical and Middle Eastern archaeology.
Senior-advanced units of study (3000 level)

For a major in Archaeology you must have at least six credit points at 3000 level. To enrol in 3000 level units, students must have completed at least 18 credit points at 2000 level including ARCA2635 Explanation and Theory in Archaeology.

All students who fulfil the requirements for entry are encouraged to apply for Honours.


The department offers a single Honours program in Archaeology while letting students specialise in the subject area of their choice.

Honours entry requires an average of 70 percent or above in 48 senior credit points in Archaeology.

Students intending to enrol in Archaeology Honours should normally have obtained credit or better results in one or more units at 3000 level.

Contact/further information

More information about the Archaeology program is available at:, or by phoning the school on +61 2 9351 2862.