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Postgraduate Study

The PhD in Archaeology is an opportunity for original research leading to a thesis within a structured research environment that encourages both independence and collaboration. The Department of Archaeology provides research training for PhD students through regular research skills seminars. All PhD students are assigned a supervisor and an adviser and may have additional co-supervisors and/or advisers who make up their ‘supervisory team’.  Students will have frequent meetings with their supervisor and other team members, either together or individually.  PhD students receive a progress review at the end of their second and fourth terms. The PhD is normally obtained after three years of study (five years part-time) on an approved subject within the field of Archaeology, and includes an oral examination on the thesis and the general field of knowledge in which it falls. 

The thesis topic is normally proposed by the student and then decided between the student and the supervisor, and assistance is provided on elements of methodology and analysis, as well as with the written presentation. The thesis must satisfy the examiners that the candidate can design and carry out investigations, assess and interpret the results obtained, and place the work in the wider perspective of the subject. The PhD is assessed solely on the basis of the thesis examination.

A PhD thesis in Archaeology must represent a significant contribution to knowledge. with a word count of not more than 80,000 words. Students may be required to complete courses in research design, statistical analysis, interpretation, communication and safety during their first Michaelmas term at Cambridge, and attend such lectures and courses as are considered appropriate by their supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

A PhD thesis in Archaeology is expected to be a lucid, scholarly and substantial research contribution to knowledge on its topic, and to demonstrate a good understanding of the wider context of the chosen topic.


MPhil students at Cambridge wishing to continue to the PhD in Archaeology are required to achieve a mark of at least 68 overall in Archaeology or a related subject and at least 68 in the dissertation. They must submit a PhD research proposal and obtain the support of an appropriate supervisor prior to submitting an application

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Archaeology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
April 24, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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