Excellence in research, teaching and employability of our students
We are one of the world’s top archaeology departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in research, teaching and employability of our students. Within the UK, Durham Archaeology was ranked first by the Guardian University Guide 2018. The most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF2014) ranked the Department second by grade point average, and first for research intensity.
Globally, the 2017 QS World University Rankings list Durham as one of the top four archaeology departments. Our work spans the humanities, sciences and professional practice, extends geographically from East Asia to the UK, and chronologically from the Palaeolithic to the present.
Our vision is to build upon our strengths as a world-class research department. In doing so, we will maintain a strategic and opportunistic orientation, whilst remaining ethical, authentic and sincere. We will offer broad thematic, chronological and geographical coverage, with world-class fieldwork projects, scientific expertise and a laboratory and commercial infrastructure to match.
We will be an outward-looking community – collaborating strategically with a worldwide network of scholars, institutions and heritage agencies. Our archaeological and interdisciplinary research will help tackle some of the ‘Global Challenges’ facing the world. It will also create demonstrable societal and economic impacts.
We will deliver excellent teaching and learning to talented students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, led by our research strengths and informed by the needs of our stakeholders. Our teaching will also reflect archaeology’s interdisciplinary associations with a wide range of subjects (from the bio-, geo- and material-sciences to history, anthropology and visual culture).
Durham Archaeology is ranked first in the UK and fourth in the world
Guardian University Guide 2018, QS World University Rankings 2017
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Our research is characterised by peaks of excellence, notably in: bioarchaeology; prehistoric Eurasia; landscapes of complex societies; religion, ritual, belief and place; and artefact studies. We undertake research in the field, laboratory and library, using established and cutting-edge techniques (ranging from isotope and DNA analysis to meta-analysis of large and increasingly digital datasets), in order to re-think major narratives of past social relations and cultures.
We work across the full time-span of archaeology (from the Palaeolithic to modern and contemporary periods), and within a coherent geographical range (from South Asia to the Mediterranean and the British Isles). Our archaeological and interdisciplinary research is helping tackle some of the ‘Global Challenges’ facing the world (e.g. environmental change and natural disasters, increasing ethnicity in the western world, migration of people and animals, challenges to health and well-being, social inequalities, misunderstandings of world religions, and damage to the integrity of the world’s heritage in conflict zones).
We contribute significantly to Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and to Durham’s Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Our research is also creating demonstrable societal and economic impacts, both in the UK and around the world.
We are currently undertaking research at three World Heritage Sites. In 2017, we fielded the first UK team to excavate inside the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, working alongside colleagues from the prestigious Palace Museum. At Lumbini, Nepal - the birthplace of the Buddha - our work is enhancing management and conservation practices utilised at this sacred site.
And in Durham, our interdisciplinary studies are shedding new light on the mystery surrounding the last resting place of Scottish soldiers who died after being captured and imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle during the 17th Century civil wars.
We have a range of cutting-edge scientific laboratories, all housed within our Department’s building, specializing in DNA, isotopes, microscopy/geoarchaeology, informatics, human bones, artefact conservation, materials science, and thermoluminescence. We also have excellent photographic facilities.
Our commercial unit, Archaeological Services Durham University, contributes to our research fieldwork, while providing archaeological and heritage services to the development industry. We also work closely with staff in Durham University’s Oriental Museum and Museum of Archaeology, which house some outstanding archaeological collections, including Chinese ceramics and Middle and Near Eastern antiquities.
We currently employ 30 full-time academic members of staff (ranging from full Professors through to Associate and Assistant Professors). We have two Emeritus Professors. In addition, we employ about 20 Teaching Fellows, Research Fellows and Research Associates, a team of administrative and technical staff, and around 30 professional staff within Archaeological Services.