Universiteit Leiden

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World Archaeology (BA)

About the programme

The tree-year bachelor's programme in Archaeology is a many-sided programme in which you study societies, cultures, and human behaviour from the past, aiming to reconstruct and revive them. Dive into the development of human societies all over the world, from the Americas to the Middle East, from the Mediterranean, to North-West Europe.

Programme overview

Making your choice

At the end of your first year you choose one of the two specialisations of the Bachelor's programme in Archaeology. You are now on the website of the specialisation World Archaeology. The other specialisation is called Heritage and Society

General skills

In your first year you will have a lot of introductory subjects and lectures on the basic knowledge and general skills that every archaeologist needs.

  • Learn about the development of archaeology as a science and discover precisely what the most important archaeological concepts and theories mean.
  • Get to know the research areas offered in Leiden. In the mornings you will study theory and in the afternoon there will be tutorials or practical sessions.
  • Participate in fieldwork. This is where you will learn what an excavation really involves and you will put what you learn into practice.
  • Explore heritage and archaeological policies and learn how to translate the data and finds from excavations to appeal to a wider audience.

See for more information about the courses, the programme structure.


The bachelor's programme in Archaeology offers two specialisations: World Archaeology and Heritage and Society. At the end of the first year, you will make a choice.

Study load

The first Archaeology year has about 32 hours of lectures per week. Besides, you are required to spend about 8 hours per week on autonomous study.
Those 40 hours in total include: lectures, practical sessions, tutorials, fieldwork, excursions (e.g. to a museum or excavation), exams, literature study, and writing papers and reports.

Language of instruction

In your first year you may choose between a Dutch or English language programme. The language of instruction for the second and third years is English.


Tests are taken in the form of written examinations, presentations, assignments or papers. For each subject you pass you will be awarded a number of credits. One credit (ec) stands for 28 hours of study. One year of fulltime study equals 60 credits.

Mentor system

In the Archaeology programme, you are never left to your own devices. Every first-year student is assigned a mentor, and students regularly get together in small mentor groups. Your study progress is carefully monitored to maximise your study experience so you can graduate in time. Your mentor will be there for you throughout the whole bachelor programme.

Modes of instruction

Instruction consists of lectures, seminars and tutorials. In the lecture the lecturer talks about his or her field. You prepare by studying articles and books at home. In the seminars and in particular in the tutorials, you examine the material in more depth and discuss it with your fellow students and the lecturer. You also carry out assignments, give presentations and write papers. You must make an active contribution to tutorials and attendance is compulsory.

Binding Study Advice (BSA)

In the course of your first year you will be given regular advice on your progress. This advice is based on objectives that are a good indication of whether or not you are likely to be able to complete your study successfully within the time prescribed. If you want to continue with your study programme in Leiden, you need to earn at least 45 out of the 60 study credits at the end of the first year. If you do not meet this criterium, you will not be able to carry on with your study in Leiden. In formulating this study advice, any relevant circumstances, such as sickness or other personal factors, will, of course, be taken into account.

After your first year

To help you monitor your study progress after your first year, you and your study adviser will draw up a study plan. You can use the plan to note which subjects you still have to take, the optional courses you want to take and any other plans, such as a study abroad period, for example. You will then be able to see at a glance whether you have planned too many or too few subjects, and whether you are still on track.

Choosing your path

In the second year you will follow some fixed courses regardless of your chosen specialisation. You will focus, for example, on humanity's deep history, urban societies, and the phenonemon of globalisation in the past.

In the second half of the year you will choose your tutorials; these are where you will look at the themes in greater depth. At the end of this year you will conduct fieldwork in one of the faculty’s research projects.

World Archaeology courses

Aside from the general coures, you will study early humans, prehistory, the medieval period, or the archaeology of the variety of regions that are investigated in Leiden. 

Freedom of choice

No classes are scheduled for the first half of the third year, giving you time to follow a minor (a fixed package of courses) to broaden or deepen your programme. Or you may opt to study abroad.

You can thus choose the direction that you want to take, creating a path that matches your interests.

Internship, fieldwork or studying abroad

An internship is an obligatory part of the third year, a perfect way to get to know the job market! Depending on your personal preference, you might want to do an internship at a government agency, a city council or a museum, or you can further develop your archaeological field knowledge in the field or in a laboratory environment.

Bachelor's thesis

In the second half of the year you follow a few remaining general courses and do a final internship. You write your thesis on a theme connected to your specialisation. A perfect training of your research and writing skills. This is an experience that will come in handy on the job market!

Study guidance

During the first year, you will be given intensive supervision. At the start of the programme you will have an introductory meeting with one of the lecturers or the study adviser. You will also take part in mentor meetings regularly, in which you practice academic skills en discuss your study progress. And if a certain situation requires it, your study adviser will invite you for a study progress consultation.

There is always a helping hand for Archaeology students who need it.

Modes of instruction

Our instruction consists of lectures, seminars and tutorials:

  • In the lecture the lecturer talks about his or her field. You prepare by studying articles and books at home.
  • In the seminars and in particular in the tutorials, you examine the material in more depth and discuss it with your fellow students and the lecturer. You also carry out assignments, give presentations and write papers. You must make an active contribution to tutorials and attendance is compulsory.

Come to the Experience Day to experience it yourself!

Jan Dekker

Bachelor's student

Jan Dekker

'The variety of topics that you are offered in the beginning, and the inquisitive attitude that you develop. Archaeology is an enormously diverse discipline and you get a good overview of what is possible. Education focuses very much on learning to do research. This gives the feeling that you are part of an improving field to which you can contribute.'

Mary van den Hoorn

Bachelor's student

Mary van den Hoorn

'The subjects that I really liked were "Material Culture" and "Osteoarchaeolgy" where you could work with the material yourself. The great thing about the bachelor’s in Archaeology in Leiden is that despite there are large groups for the lectures, there are 'teaching assistants' who can give you more personal attention. You can ask them questions about the lectures or the assignments that you have to do.'

Mariëlle Portier

Bachelor's student

Mariëlle Portier

'The best thing about the bachelor's is that you not only go out into the field, in the Netherlands, but also that you get the opportunity to do fieldwork abroad. This way you can really work in your area of interest.'

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