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Archaeology at Sidney

Archaeology at Cambridge

Archaeology covers a huge range of topics, spanning the evolution of humans through to the development of farming, ancient civilizations and world empires. Besides interpreting and understanding major transitions in past human societies, archaeology theorises the role of material culture in human life and advocates for heritage in modern societies. Students can follow several streams within the Tripos - Archaeology (covering all world cultures), Biological Anthropology (covering modern humans, past hominin species and primate biological diversity), Egyptology and Assyriology (covering ancient language and material records).

Archaeology uses material evidence to explore the nature and development of particular societies and to explain the variations and commonalities of the human past. Assyriology is the study of the languages, cultures, history and archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria).

  • Egyptology is the study of the history, languages, society, archaeology and religion of ancient Egypt.

  • Biological Anthropology explores human evolution, biology and behaviour, and the interaction between biology and culture in human and primate species. With the Division of Archaeology and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge is one of the largest centres of archaeological research in Britain, and the department has been awarded top place in the Complete University Guide for Archaeology in the UK. Archaeology students at Cambridge benefit from direct hands-on access to world-class collections in Cambridge's many museums, libraries and research centres. 

ASNC students discover medieval history while learning one or more languages and reading great works of literature in the original languages, such as the Old English poem Beowulf, the epic medieval Irish tale Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) and Icelandic sagas. Exactly which areas you study and to what depth is largely up to you, and to support your learning Cambridge has rare and exceptional resources to offer in the University Library, the College libraries, and in the Fitzwilliam and other museums.

A guide to the ASNC Tripos may be viewed on the department’s web page which also provides up-to-date information about the departmental Open Day held annually in June.

Archaeology at Sidney

Sidney Sussex College has an established expertise in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, with an impressive recent crop of First Class Honours results among its students. The disciplines are also well-anchored among the Fellowship. With a small but active and diverse fellowship in the discipline, students at Sidney will benefit from first-hand knowledge and current research being conducted in the field across different regions and temporal periods. Cohort activities are encouraged by the Director of Studies which assist the archaeology student at Sidney in building networks and hearing about current research being conducted by those in the college and university.


Director of Studies (DoS)

Part I - Dr Sheila Kohring (external DoS) is an Affiliated Lecturer and Manager of the Material Culture Laboratory in the Archaeology Department. She specialises in material culture and technology theory and prehistoric Europe. She has conducted research in Central America, North America and the Western Atlantic fringe of Europe (Spain, Channel Islands and Britain). Her current research projects are exploring the concept of health in prehistory and the creation of local places by past communities. Her current excavations are being conducted in the Cambridgeshire area.

Key publications:

Kohring, S. (2016).  A Case for the One-Offs: Improvisation and Innovation within a Copper Age Potting Community, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 26(3): 513-526. 

Kohring S. (2014). Materiality, Technology, and Constructing Social Knowledge through Bodily Representation: A View from Prehistoric Guernsey, Channel Islands, European Journal of Archaeology 17(2), 248-263.

Part II - Dr Yannis Galanakis is a University Senior Lecturer in Classics (Aegean Archaeology) specialising in Aegean and Classical Archaeology, and Director of the Museum of Classical Archaeology. His work ranges from the archaeology and art of the Bronze and Early Iron Age Aegean to museum studies, collections and the antiquities trade in 19th-century Europe. Before joining Sidney, he was Curator at the Ashmolean Museum in the University of Oxford. He is currently involved in fieldwork in Greece and welcomes the opportunity for student participation in his projects. His current research focuses on the archaeology of death and burial in Mycenaean Greece.


Other Fellows

Professor Janice Stargardt is a Professorial Research Fellow in Asian Historical Archaeology and Geography and Senior Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. She specialises in the archaeology of late Iron Age and early urban development in southeast Asia. In 2014 she was  involved in obtaining Burma’s first World Heritage sites for three ancient cities of the Pyu period and, since 2015, has been conducting excavations, training and research at the Pyu site of Sri Ksetra, Burma. Her research is supported by a major grant from the European Research Council, with supplementary grants from the McDonald Institute and Sidney Sussex College.


All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.

Typical Intake

1 - 2

Standard Entry Requirements

A*AA at A Level

41-42 points in the IB, with 776 at Higher Level

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

There are no specific subjects preferred. At Sidney, we consider a wide range of subjects to be useful preparation for the course, including Classics, Geography, History, an ancient or modern language, science subjects, and social sciences.Applicants for Egyptology and Assyriology are strongly encouraged to study an ancient or modern language.

Admissions Process

Written work

Two essays, preferably on subjects with some relation to the topics in the Archaeology Tripos. We will send out more specific information about what is required after the UCAS deadline.

Admissions Assessments

At-interview assessment. Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website.


Two interviews, both with a focus on the subject. Candidates may be asked to consider some form or written or non-written source material in one or both of the interviews. Applicants are not expected to have any standard background in archaeology, as the field is highly varied, and the subject is not often taught in schools. However, applicants should be prepared to discuss their relevant interests and the potential directions they may wish to follow at interview.

Find out more

Please also visit the Division of Archaeology website for further information.

Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (