Universiteit Leiden

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World Archaeology (BA)

Bachelor programme structure

Study all aspects of human life in the past and take on a broad, historic perspective.

Programme outline

The programme starts out with introductions to the research areas offered in Leiden, as well as the most important archaeological concepts, methods, and theories.

In the second year it will move on to courses centred around certain themes, like the deep history of humankind, the archaeology of empires, and early globalisation. The remainder of your courses is determined by your specialisation.

First year's programme

In the first year you will follow courses on material culture, landscape archaeology, and archaeological techniques. Later on in this specialisation you may specialise further by choosing courses that fit your preferences. In this way you may shape your programme to your own interests.

Your first year will look like this:

Course EC
Introduction to Heritage Studies 10
Masterial Studies 5
Past and Future 5
World Archaeology 15
Landscape Dynamics 10
Exploratory Data Analysis in Archaeology 5
Field Techniques 5
Field School 1 5

World Archaeology: some of the courses

Material Studies

This course provides a general overview of the key artefact categories frequently recovered during excavation. You will familiarise yourself with the nature and properties of different materials and will acquire an understanding of different production processes through which artefacts were made.

World Archaeology

The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the deep history of humans and society from our early ancestors to the more complex societies in the world. The role of material culture in society is discussed and shown in many regions and periods. Comparisons between different regions and scales allow us to understand connections between the unique and the global.

Past and future

During this course we introduce you to what archaeology was, what archaeology is, and – most importantly – what archaeology can be. We will guide you through the history of archaeology, some of the very first excavations, and the reasons for the emergence of the field. We will meet some famous archaeologists and walk you through the main theoretical developments that the field has seen.

Deep History

The origins of human impact on planet Earth is debated in scientific as well as political circles. In line with this, the definition of the term Anthropocene is still up for discussion. Archaeology plays an important role in this discussion. The central question of the course is: when was the start of the so-called Anthropocene?

We will focus on 2 major transformations in the history of modern humans:
1) the spread of Homo sapiens across the globe
2) the development and spread of agriculture (the neolithisation process).
What is the impact of these major transformations on the relations between humans, animals and the environment in general?

Early Empires in West Asia and the Mediterranean

This course explores the archaeology of early empires in West Asia and the Mediterranean, focusing on Mesopotamian and Roman Empires.

These early empires were at the basis of new social contracts, including the development of slavery and serfdom at a scale previously unknown, new intensive forms of agriculture and the burgeoning of international trade, the development of metropols of unprecedented size, new forms of administrative control and new religions and ideologies.


In this course you will learn how to interpret bioarchaeological data (botanical macro fossils, pollen, animal and human skeletal remains). A number of practical sessions is part of the course. During the practical you will handle pollen analyses, botanical macro fossils, and animal and human skeletal remains.

Archaeological Theory

In this challenging course we discuss the development and use of archaeological theory. Rather than presenting the development of archaeological thought as linear (and implicitly progressive), we will delve into the pros and cons of different ways of approaching archaeological evidence by reading first-hand literature and practice in different case studies.

Science Communication: Archaeology in the 21st century

During this course you will learn how we communicate the past and research about the past to a variety of audiences including, but not limited to, other academics, journalists, kids, and the wider public.

We will discuss science communication practices related to social media, press releases, video content, podcasts, scientific writing for the public, as well as interdisciplinary academic communication and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The main goal of this course is to give you some basic experience in science communication by means of several assignments.


The internship offers many possibilities in acquiring skills needed for future employment.
You can choose between developing an advanced level of fieldwork skills or an internship at a museum, archaeological company or any other professional field.

Want to know more?

Check out the Prospectus for World Archaeology for detailed information about the courses. Please note that this is the course overview for the current year.

Elective options

A minor is a related, logical package of subjects. A well-chosen  minor allows you to broaden your knowledge, insights and skills and to apply your experiences in your chosen field. Choosing the right minor also gives you the opportunity to prepare for the master's that you want to take after your bachelor's, so that you can increase the likelihood of gaining a place in the master's you would like to follow.

Spending some time abroad is a great opportunity to expand your horizon. You can go abroad in search of specific, specialist knowledge that is not available in Leiden.
On a personal level you will learn many skills that are also useful when verturing onto the job market, whether it's being creative in finding solutions, or learning a foreign language. On the current job market, an international mindset a highly sought-after commodity.

What will it be, England, France, Italy or another exciting place?

More about studying abroad

At the Faculty of Archaeology, internships are mandatory parts of the programme, and can take many forms.

Many internships consist of fieldwork in the Netherlands or abroad, but the options are not limited to excavating. You can also arrange an internship in a museum, a laboratory, agency, or city council, according to your interests, specialisations, and the type of work you would like to do after your studies.

More about Archaeology internships

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