Archaeology PhD / MPhil

We have pioneered the study of the ancient world for more than 130 years and have an international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. In 1904 the University established the Institute of Archaeology, the first centre for the academic study of the methods and practice of Archaeology alongside Egyptology and Classical Archaeology in the UK.

Why study with us?

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, as well as having access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities.

Marvin Demicoli - Archaeology PhD student
  • 100%

    of our research impact classified as 'outstanding' (4*) or 'very considerable' (3*) in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021)

  • 42

    academic and research staff members engaging in world-class research in the fields of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology.

  • 5th

    in the sector for research power out of 24 submissions in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2021)


Current research in Archaeology at Liverpool uses state-of-the-art interdisciplinary methods and approaches to study the Palaeolithic and Neolithic societies of Southwest Asia, Mediterranean Europe and Africa, human evolution, archaeobotanical science, archaeozoology, bioarchaeology, archaeomaterials, classical archaeology, the cultures of the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean, later European prehistory and Medieval and post-Medieval archaeology.

The Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology is internationally reputed for its world-class interdisciplinary research in diverse fields ranging from the origins of humanity and Old World prehistory to the cultures, languages and texts of the late antiquity and the archaeology of the historical periods.

ACE has particular research strengths in the fields of Old World prehistory (especially the Palaeolithic and Neolithic of Southwest Asia, Mediterranean Europe and Africa), Human evolution, Archaeobotanical science (archaeobotany & anthracology), Archaeozoology, Bioarchaeology (stable isotopes and human remains), Archaeomaterials, Classical archaeology, the archaeology and cultures of the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean, Later British and European prehistory and Medieval and post-Medieval archaeology.

Fieldwork is an important part of our research and we have several field projects based in the UK and abroad (Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Iraq, Kenya, Jordan, Turkey, Zambia).

With 42 academic & research staff and over 60 postgraduate researchers ACE forms one of the largest hubs for the academic study of the human past in the UK.

We welcome Archaeology PhD research proposals that provide a close match with our research strengths in Old World prehistory (especially the Palaeolithic and Neolithic of Southwest Asia, Mediterranean Europe and Africa), Human evolution, Archaeobotanical (seeds, charcoal) science, Bioarchaeology, Archaeozoology, Archaeomaterials, the Iron Age in the Mediterranean and the Near East, Classical archaeology, Mesopotamian texts, languages, cultures and economies, Later British and European prehistory, and Medieval and post-Medieval archaeology.

Research themes

Our research themes are:

Human Evolution:

  • Long-term evolution of cultural abilities
  • The development of stone tool technologies from the Oldowan to the Upper Palaeolithic
  • The emergence of symbolism, language, and artistic traditions
  • Innovation, social transmission and learning
  • The origin of human ecological adaptations 
  • Speciation, extinction, and dispersals 
  • Responses of prehistoric humans to climate change.

Prehistoric Archaeology & Human Palaeoecology:

  • The transition from foraging to farming
  • The impact of environmental and climate change on human societies
  • The evolution of anthropogenic landscapes, ecologies & human foodways
  • Plant & animal domestication
  • The (pre)history of disease
  • The histories and evolution of prehistoric households & social complexity
  • Processes of colonisation, settlement dispersals and acculturation.

The Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East:

  • The Iron Age in the Mediterranean and the Near East
  • Classical Archaeology
  • Regions and regional interactions in the Mediterranean
  • Households & landscapes
  • Cultural translation
  • Mesopotamian texts, languages, cultures and economies.

Later European & British prehistory:

  • European Iron Age society & social organisation
  • British pre-Roman Iron Age
  • Gender archaeology
  • Household & settlement archaeology
  • Roundhouse architecture
  • People-climate interactions.

Historical Archaeology:

  • Western Britain and Ireland from the Iron Age to the present
  • Roman Britain
  • Early medieval Britain and Ireland; post-medieval/historical archaeology
  • Heritage management and interpretation
  • Memory and identity
  • Conflict archaeology
  • Biography in historical periods.



A key focus of our research activities is the Garstang Museum of Archaeology, one of the most important collections of antiquities in the UK including material culture objects excavated in Egypt, the Aegean, Sudan and the Near East. We also maintain research collaborations with National Museums Liverpool.

Our research is supported by excellent library specialist collections including extensive digital resources, bibliographical tools, online reference materials, subject-oriented search engines, and specialist books and journals held in the Sydney Jones and the Harold Cohen libraries of the University of Liverpool (open 24/7 during term time).

Training is available in a wide range of ancient languages, including Greek, Latin, Egyptian, Coptic, Sumerian and Akkadian. Students can also study modern languages which may be necessary for their research via Liverpool’s flagship Open Languages programme.

In 2015 our archaeological science facilities were substantially expanded, with the establishment of the Elizabeth Slater Archaeology Research Laboratories and a dedicated Research Microscopy suite. These facilities support departmental staff and student research on archaeobotany & anthracology, archaeozoology, archaeomaterials, human remains & stable isotopes, lithics & ceramics, post-excavation analysis, GIS and digital humanities applications, experimental archaeology and archaeological photography. Postgraduate researchers are also allocated shared office space with lockers and data points, access to networked PCs with specialist software, free printing and inter-library loans.

Our postgraduate research community benefits from funding support made available to PGRs to undertake fieldwork and other forms of primary data collection, attend academic conferences and organize postgraduate research events. In addition to the funding and training opportunities provided by the Liverpool Doctoral College, the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures (HLC) and ACE have dedicated budgets for supporting PGR research and training activities including:

· HLC Postgraduate Research Fund (Postgraduate travel and research expenses: up to £500 per year for full-time/FT PGRs; £250 per year for part-time/PT)

· The Peet Travel Award (up to £500) is available to support travel and associated costs for research into the archaeology and languages of the pre-Classical Mediterranean, including Egypt and the Near East, as well as the archaeology of early Greece and Rome

· Dedicated, tailored support for PGR applications to external competitive funding schemes (e.g. PGR funding opportunities available through independent bodies such as the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the British Institute at Ankara, the British Schools in Athens and Rome, the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the Egypt Exploration Society, etc.).

Research groups

Our Archaeology research groups provide a dynamic forum for the exchange of new concepts and cutting-edge knowledge produced by staff and postgraduate researchers. This is achieved through our dedicated seminar series which provide opportunities for academic and research staff, and research postgraduates to present their research, develop their research profile, and interact with other leading figures in their fields from the UK and abroad who participate in departmental research events as invited speakers.

· Archaeology of Human Origins
· Early Village Societies
· Mediterranean Archaeology.

Study options and fees

MPhil / PhD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,712
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £27,800 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £27,800 (Band A)^ or £21,850 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £21,850 (Band B)
Part time 4-6 years £2,356
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences £13,900 (Band A)^
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering* £13,900 (Band A)^ or £10,925 (Band B)
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences £10,925 (Band B)

The fees stated in the table above exclude potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees’. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

* Please note that if you are undertaking a PhD within the Faculty of Science and Engineering the fee you pay, Band A or Band B, will reflect the nature of your research project. Some research projects incur a higher fee than others e.g. if you are required to undertake laboratory work. You will be informed of the fee for your programme in your offer letter.

^ Self-funded, full-time international students studying a PhD programme classified as Band A will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

Applications are welcome from suitably qualified candidates who wish to undertake research leading to a PhD in Archaeology on either a full- or part-time basis. We ordinarily expect candidates for entry to our PhD programme to hold a first degree in the First or 2:1 class and a Master’s degree (preferably pass of 65% or higher) in a relevant subject area from a UK university, or EU/overseas qualifications of an equivalent standard.

English language requirements

IELTS Academic requirement - SELT and non-SELT Overall 6.5 no band below 6.0
TOEFL iBT requirement Minimum 88 overall with L 19 W 19 R 19 and S 20
C1 Advanced CAE requirement Overall 176 with no less than 169 in any paper
Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE II)ISE II with an overall pass with merit in components
Cambridge IGCSE as a First LanguageGrade C
Cambridge IGCSE as a Second LanguageGrade B
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Proficiency)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 3 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components
Cambridge English Level 2 Certificate in ESOL International (Advanced)Overall 176 with 169 in components

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

Apply online

Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal

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