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BSc (Hons) Bioarchaeology

Investigate ancient populations through the study of bones, DNA and environmental evidence

Year of entry: 2023/24

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time

Typical offer

ABB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2023 (semester dates)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£21,950 per year

Undergraduate Open Days

Book your place for our Open Days on 1 and 2 July.

Discover York

in the UK

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

in the UK

QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023

in the Russell Group

for overall satisfaction in forensic and archaeological sciences of universities included in the National Student Survey 2022.

Bioarchaeology enables us to paint a more vivid picture of the human past.

Through isotopic analysis of remains from archaeological sites, we can discover what past diets were like, where people came from and whether they travelled long distances in their lifetimes. We can analyse the proteins in fragments of Viking-Age hair combs to find out which animal they were made from, or examine ancient DNA to better understand our human timeline. 

Our BSc Bioarchaeology is perfect for students studying a science subject who are interested in history and ancient populations. York is home to BioArCh, a collaborative research facility formed by the Archaeology, Biology and Chemistry departments. The centre is internationally recognised, with a unique concentration of expertise in human palaeoecology and environmental archaeology.

Our department is renowned for being friendly and welcoming, meaning you'll get to know your lecturers, and they'll get to know you. You'll have endless opportunities to get involved, from joining the Archaeology Society to working abroad on a research project. We're based in the King's Manor in the city centre, a beautiful and truly unique Medieval building, with additional state-of-the-art facilities on the main campus. 

York is the UK’s archaeological capital, with historic buildings and significant remains from the Roman, Viking and Medieval periods. You'll find it a great place to call home.


This course is accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), the leading professional body representing archaeologists working in the UK and overseas. Accreditation recognises the value of real knowledge of working practices across the sector and provides you with the opportunity to join CIfA as a means of supporting your professional development.

My dissertation involves analysing residues of foods in prehistoric pottery - I get to interpret how some of the world’s earliest pots were used, while also developing advanced Biology and Chemistry laboratory skills.
David, BSc Bioarchaeology

Free online courses

Get a taste of university-level study on one of York's free short courses, including our subject course, 'Exploring Stone Age archaeology'.

Course content

Our five undergraduate courses all have a common first year, so it's easy to change between them.

We emphasise flexibility - there's very little restriction on the modules you can choose to study. You'll get experience in the lab from your second year onwards.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

CIfA accreditation is not applicable to credit-replacing exchanges abroad where only two years are spent at York. Additional year abroad programmes, where three years are spent at York, are still accredited.

Archaeology also offers plenty of opportunities during vacation breaks to get involved with research abroad.


There are opportunities to spend time in industry as part of this course.

Year 1

Core modules

In your first year, your modules will cover:

You'll also take part in an excavation. This will give you hands-on experience in all aspects of assessing, collecting and analysing primary excavation data. It is a unique opportunity to be part of a really exciting phase of a research project.

It is taught during the academic year, so you won't be required to find an excavation placement during the summer vacation. If you are interested in taking part in further excavations during the vacation, we can help you find volunteering and paid opportunities to do further excavations - sometimes abroad!

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Engage critically in debates around bioarchaeological research that inform current archaeological issues applicable to multiple periods of human society, using evidence from the UK and elsewhere in the world.
  • Design, execute and evaluate (bio)archaeological research projects to a standard informed by key theoretical, scientific, legal and professional principles and methodologies in an international context.
  • Generate, document and manage primary archaeological data from diverse sources of evidence and contexts and conduct analysis using a range of digital technology.
  • Operate effectively as constructive and inclusive leaders and confident participants in teamwork in challenging environments and using data from multidisciplinary field and/or laboratory projects.
  • Apply critical and creative approaches to problem-solving in complex situations with diverse, fragmentary datasets that reflect biases in their generation, survival, identification and documentation of biological material.
  • Resolve challenges in interpretation and presentation from an interdisciplinary perspective with agility and awareness of ethical issues.
  • Confidently explain, communicate and debate ideas through written, visual, and oral forms of presentation to a wide range of public and professional audiences using print and digital media.
  • Contribute as independent scholars within the field of bioarchaeology through rigorous and imaginative inquiry in multidisciplinary contexts.
I love the variety. I can go from studying complex theories of agency one day to GIS another and ancient DNA the next. The Department clearly prides itself on the quality of its teaching, and responds to feedback from students. The lecturers and seminar leaders are all very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Dan, BA Archaeology
See more student profiles

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £21,950

UK (home) or international fees?

The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK (home) fees may increase within the government fee cap in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International fees are subject to increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2023/24 throughout the year.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught through a range of lectures, seminars, workshops, practicals, and independent learning projects. All our teaching is research-led, meaning our lecturers are teaching the subjects they're fascinated about, and ensuring you get the most current and cutting-edge knowledge.

We have always been passionate about small group teaching - we feel it is the best way to learn. You'll start off with a variety of teaching formats and as the course progresses you'll spend more time on intensive small group teaching and individual study.

We provide training in presentation skills throughout your course, helping you to prepare for your Assessed Seminar and Assessed Lecture.

Find out more about our teaching.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures3-5 hours per week
Seminars2-4 hours per week
Workshops2-4 hours per week
Practicals2-4 hours per week
Excavation3 weeks
Field trips4-6 days
Feedback sessions1-2 hours

These figures are representative of a typical week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.


At York, you'll have access to a huge range of unique facilities. Watch this video to get an idea of what facilities we have to offer you.

In King's Manor, we have:

  • our own teaching rooms and a state-of-the-art lecture theatre
  • a specialist library with dedicated study spaces
  • a large lab space for working with artefacts, soil and environmental samples, and skeletal remains
  • computer labs with printers, scanners and specialised photo software, digital drawing and mapping software
  • a student common room for working and socialising
  • our own cafe

On Campus West, we also have our own purpose-built Bioarchaeology labs and our dedicated York Experimental Archaeology Research (YEAR) Centre. Bioarchaeology facilities include:

  • dedicated laboratory for bone preparation (bone saws, drills etc)
  • gas chromatography
  • optical microscopy
  • expansive preparative laboratories
  • scanning and transmission electron microscopy
  • state-of-the-art protein mass spectrometry
  • NERC-recognised amino acid dating facility
  • ZooMS bone identification service
  • state-of-the art Ancient DNA facility

You'll have full access to the main campus library and other University resources, including the Borthwick Institute for Archives. You'll also have access to an extremely wide range of archaeological equipment, including:

  • drones
  • fieldwork tools
  • Total Station theodolites
  • geophysical survey equipment (resistivity, magnetometry, ground penetrating radar)
  • handheld GPS systems
  • a laser scanner
  • a variety of photo and imaging technology

Teaching location

The Department of Archaeology is located in King's Manor, in the city centre. Our BioArCh and Palaeo facilities are located in or near the Environment Building on Campus West, around 30 minutes walk from King's Manor.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed using a variety of methods, including essays, exams, assessed presentations and team projects.

During your degree, we'll help you to develop the skills you'll need to approach your assessments, from presentation skills to designing a research study. We'll take the time to provide detailed and personalised feedback on your work, allowing you to improve and refine your work.

Your course will culminate with the exciting challenge of leading and chairing a seminar, organising and presenting a lecture, and researching and writing a dissertation. You'll graduate confident in your ability to cope with challenges and able to apply your skills to many areas of work.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams33%17%0%
Practical exams8%16%23%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The excavation has been the highlight of my year at York. As a heritage student, I spend a lot of time working with the public. Everyone who came to the site agreed that it was amazing and it’s so fulfilling to be able to share this history with the people closest to it.
Amy, BA Archaeology and Heritage
See more student profiles

Careers and skills

There has never been a better time to study archaeology. With major new infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Crossrail under way, there is a national shortage of archaeologists in the country.

However, studying Archaeology doesn't mean you have to become an archaeologist. Our degrees prepare you for a vast range of careers; the unique combination of humanities and sciences at York means you'll be competent in dealing with data as well as able to produce high-quality essays and reports.

If you're interested in going into the heritage sector, you'll be able to choose modules which provide you with a solid grounding in heritage studies alongside the practical skills needed to kick-start your career. York is a real centre for the heritage industry, and you'll have the opportunity to forge links with museums and heritage organisations through optional volunteering, internships and placements.

You'll have lifetime access to subject-specific careers support at York, and students will be able to prepare for their future throughout their university journey through the innovative York Futures development plan.

Career opportunities

  • Heritage organisations (eg English Heritage, National Trust, Yorkshire Museum)
  • Local councils
  • NHS
  • Police
  • Accountancy
  • Media
  • Marketing agencies
  • Law

Transferable skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Structuring arguments
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Team working
  • Leadership skills
  • Management skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Creativity and innovation

Entry requirements

Typical offer
A levels

ABB including a science subject (Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry or Geology)

Access to Higher Education Diploma 30 credits at Distinction including science-related credits and 15 credits at Merit or higher.
BTEC National Extended Diploma DDM including some science-related modules.
Cambridge Pre-U D3, M2, M2 including at least one science subject
European Baccalaureate 75% or higher including a science.
International Baccalaureate 34 points including a science or mathematics at Higher Level
T levels We are currently not accepting T Levels for this course unless an additional A Level (or equivalent qualification) in a science subject has been taken.
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers Scottish Highers - BBBC and Advanced Highers - B in one science (Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Maths or Physics)

We may also be able to consider other combinations of Highers and Advanced Highers. Please contact us to discuss your qualifications.
International foundation programme Foundation Certificate from our International Pathway College or an appropriate alternative.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Alternative offers

Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.

Criteria Adjustment
Widening participation If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to two A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Black Access Programme, Next Step York, Realising Opportunities, YESS, YorWay to York. More about widening participation.
Contextual offers If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.
EPQ If you achieve C or higher at EPQ, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.
Core Maths If you achieve B or higher in Core Maths, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.
MOOCs If you successfully complete our online course Exploring Stone Age archaeology: the mysteries of Star Carr, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about MOOCs.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 105 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C / Grade 4
LanguageCert SELT B2 with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
TOEFL 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Mature students

We welcome applications from mature students - Archaeology is a popular degree for people coming back to education. If you're interested in studying with us, we encourage you to get in touch to talk about your experience and qualifications.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Learn more

Department of Archaeology

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