Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Archaeology PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Archaeology

We have a long and distinguished tradition of teaching, research and fieldwork in archaeology at Edinburgh, all of which are closely integrated.

We have active research contacts with:

  • National Museums of Scotland
  • Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
  • Historic Environment Scotland

Breadth of expertise

We have a  wide range of expertise covering different areas, time periods and themes, including:

  • Bioarchaeology and isotope studies
  • Egyptology
  • Roman and ‘Celtic’ archaeology
  • The Byzantine World and Late Antiquity  
  • Megalithic monuments
  • Prehistory of Europe, the Mediterranean and North-East Africa
  • Early civilisations and urban societies
  • The archaeology of Scotland
  • Cultural heritage and sustainability
  • Digital heritage and heritage policy
  • Archaeomaterials analysis  
  • Human evolution
  • Conflict archaeology
  • Medieval archaeology
  • Computational archaeology
  • Marine and coastal archaeology
  • Buildings archaeology
  • Archaeological survey (Landscape Archaeology)

Focal areas of research include:

  • Bioarchaeology/ Human Osteoarchaeology/ Biological Anthropology
  • Human–environment interactions
  • The transition from hunter-gatherer to farming communities
  • The development of complex societies
  • Cultural heritage perspectives on the past, present, and future

Our research profile in classical and historical archaeology has also expanded in recent years.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDArchaeology3 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
PhDArchaeology6 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

You will have at least two supervisors who will provide expert academic guidance on your chosen research topic. Please see the entry requirements below on how to identify and contact a supervisor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology before applying.

You will meet regularly to discuss your progress and research plans, as well as drafts of your thesis/dissertation chapters, conference papers and potential articles.

In addition to individual supervision, all our PhD students pursue an individually tailored programme of research and professional skills training agreed with their supervisors.

Please note, the University of Edinburgh does not sponsor students to study part-time using a Tier 4/Student visa.

For on-campus students our building offers you a range of facilities, resources and study spaces, in a stunning location.

Our postgraduate students have access to:

  • a dedicated study space with printing, copying and scanning facilities, overlooking the Meadows, one of the city’s best-loved green spaces
  • two research rooms, shared with undergraduates, housing some of our impressive book collections and a small selection of computing facilities
  • a large common room overlooking the Meadows, shared by graduate students and staff
  • our PhD study room, subject to available desk space, you may apply after your first year
  • a number of small-scale teaching rooms, well-equipped with facilities such as data projection and smart boards
  • exhibition areas, filled with artefacts and artwork from our collections

All of our facilities are in addition to the multiple libraries and computer labs provided across the University’s estate. Many of our rooms overlook the Meadows.

Our location, right in the heart of Edinburgh, means you will be based close to the city’s cultural attractions and facilities, including a wealth of libraries, archives, museums and galleries, which provide uniquely rich support for the disciplines we teach.

Archaeology students benefit from our laboratories for:

  • artefact analysis
  • environmental archaeology
  • osteoarchaeology
  • bone chemistry
  • computing (with a wide range of software applications)

There is an extensive reference collection of archaeological materials, such as pottery, metal, stone and glass artefacts, in the V. Gordon Childe teaching collection.

Students can also benefit from the facilities, archives, collections and expertise of a range of heritage agencies and commercial archaeology units based in the city of Edinburgh.

Our PhD students develop a highly valued set of research and professional skills which enable them to go on to a wide variety of careers including academia and in sectors such as museums and heritage, commercial or developer-funded archaeology, the civil service and teaching.

The PhD by Distance allows students who do not wish to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in Archaeology. It is available to all suitably qualified applicants in the same areas as our on-campus programmes.

There is no expectation that students studying for a PhD in Archaeology by distance should visit Edinburgh during their period of study, though they are encouraged to visit and meet their supervisors in person if this is convenient.

An additional form needs to be submitted for PhD by Distance applications; for further information on the PhD by Distance and to access the form, please see the School of History, Classics and Archaeology website:

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

We require the following (with further details below):

  • Provisional supervision agreement between you and a primary supervisor, in writing
  • Research proposal
  • Qualifications at undergraduate and Masters level
  • References
  • Entry interview
  • PhD by Distance - additional application form
  • Evidence of English language competency

Provisional supervision agreement

You must name a member of staff who has provisionally agreed, in writing, to supervise you in order for your application to be taken forward. Please ensure that the relevant correspondence is uploaded to your admissions application. This statement of support is provisional, pending assessment of your application and your performance at an interview. If you haven’t approached a member of our academic staff yet, please use the following staff list to help you find a supervisor in the subject area of your interest.

Research proposal

You must submit a research proposal (in a Word or PDF document) demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research. This will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision making process. Guidance on writing a research proposal can be found online:

Qualifications

A UK 2:1 honours degree in a relevant discipline and a relevant Masters degree with an overall mark of at least 65%, or international equivalents.

We may also consider your application if you have relevant professional experience; please check with your potential supervisor before you apply.

You will need to submit both your undergraduate and postgraduate degree certificates and transcripts in order to be considered for PhD admission. For instructions on how to upload any additional documents after you have submitted your application, please follow the support guidance:

References

You must submit two references with your application.

Entry interview

If you meet all of the entry requirements, you will need to attend an online interview with potential supervisors. The interview should last 20-30 minutes. Please note that an offer to study is subject to a successful interview.

PhD by Distance

For PhD by Distance students please see the ""PhD by Distance option"" section for further requirements, including an additional application form.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDArchaeology3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDArchaeology6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PhDArchaeology by Distance3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDArchaeology by Distance6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

Please note that the funding applications have their own separate timelines and you will need to be conscious of this when applying for funding.

When you submit your PhD study application in the application portal a deadline is generated automatically. This deadline will differ from any funding deadlines. Scholarship application deadlines should be followed if applying for funding.

Please also note that not all of the scholarships listed will be open to the PhD by Distance option of study.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK government loan schemes.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 1 July 2024

If you are applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research as outlined under the entry requirements.

Two supervisors (sometimes more) will be appointed to work with you on the project. You must contact a prospective primary supervisor before applying: they will be required to provide a brief statement of provisional support, which should be included with your documents.

Start dates outwith September and January might be available but only in exceptional circumstances. Please begin your application using the closest date and contact the Graduate School to discuss the matter.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG