The Institute of Archaeology is a long-established international leader in the discipline, unique in the scale and diversity of its research and the global scope of its expertise and collaborative links.
The Institute's key strategic research aims are:
- to be internationally pre-eminent in the study, and comparative analysis, of world archaeology.
- to maintain and enhance its reputation for the quality and breadth of its multi-disciplinary and thematic approach to the study of the human past.
- to develop theory, method and practice in the study and management of cultural heritage in its social, political and economic contexts.
- to be at the forefront of international research in archaeological sciences.
The Institute’s research covers fieldwork, laboratory analysis and conservation, artefact studies, and theoretical, synthetic, and analytical work across a range of perspectives. It has more than 60 research active staff, projects on five continents and in the Pacific, and wins regular and substantial research funding from a wide range of national and international sources.
In REF 2014 the Institute of Archaeology received the top score of 100% 4* for the excellence of our research environment. Two thirds (66%) of our research outputs were rated in the 4* or 3* categories (world leading and internationally excellent) while nearly 50% of our research impact was deemed to be of 4* quality. The Institute was the largest submitting unit within UK academic archaeology and we submitted the largest volume of research that was deemed to be world-leading.
In the 2008 UK Universities Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 90% of the Institute’s research activity was rated as internationally recognised by the assessment panel, with 30% considered world-leading. The panel also noted that, ‘UCL's Institute of Archaeology is one of the very few places in the world that is actively pursuing research on a truly global scale‘; that it has ‘a generally outstanding research environment in which all [its] research groups participate, [contributing] to an increasingly cohesive research environment‘; and that its staff and their work have ‘generally excellent impact and recognition‘.
Since 2008 Institute of Archaeology staff have published >80 authored, co-authored and edited books together with >800 book chapters and journal articles.
In the last few years the Institute has won significant European funding and UK Research Council and charity grants. Competitive funding that has been obtained includes: UK Research Councils: more than £6.10M; UK charities: more than £1.993M; EU: more than 8.5M euro.
Outstanding European research grant success
- Rhiannon Stevens has been successful in obtaining a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant for her research project 'UP-NORTH: Colonisation and cultural diversification in northern Europe during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition' (2014-2019).
- Marc Vander Linden was successful in obtaining a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for his research project 'EUROFARM: Transmission of innovations: comparison and modelling of early farming and associated technologies in Europe' (2012-2017). Read more»
- Ignacio de la Torre was also successful in obtaining a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for his research project 'ORACEAF: The Origins of the Acheulean in East Africa' (2012-2016). Further details are available here»
- Dorian Fuller was successful in obtaining a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant for his research project 'COMPAG: Comparative Pathways to Agriculture' (2013-18). Read more»
- Stephen Shennan was also successful in obtaining a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant for his research project ‘EUROEVOL: Cultural Evolution of Neolithic Europe’ (2010-2014). Further details are available here»
Major UK research grant awards
- Rodney Harrison, with UK and international colleagues, has been awarded an AHRC Large Grant under the 'Care for the Future: Thinking forward through the past' theme, for the research programme ‘Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage’ which began in April 2015. Read more»
- Andrew Bevan, and colleagues at the British Museum, were awarded AHRC funding for an innovative project on Crowd- and Community-fuelled Archaeological Research (2013-15). Read more»
- Thilo Rehren was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Project Grant for collaborative research with Serbian and German partners on the Origins of Metallurgy in Eurasia (2012-2015).
- Sue Hamilton was also awarded a 4-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Project Grant for the collaborative project 'Rapa Nui: Landscapes of Construction' (2011-2015).
- Kris Lockyear was awarded an AHRC Community Heritage Development Award for his project on the late Iron Age and Roman past of Hertfordshire (2013-14). Read more»
- Jose Oliver has been awarded funding from the Leverhulme Trust for a new 4-year archaeological project (2015-2019) entitled 'Reflexive Archaeology in Cotua Island, Orinoco, Venezuela'.
- Andrew Reynolds has also been awarded funding from the Leverhulme Trust for a new 3-year research project (2014-17) on 'Travel and communication in Anglo-Saxon England'.
- Elizabeth Graham has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant for a 3-year project exploring the role of past human activity in structuring modern landscapes and soils (2013-16).
- Louise Martin, Andrew Garrard and Andrew Bevan have also been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant for a 3-year project on Prehistoric hunting strategies in Jordan: reconstructing prey behaviour and ecology (2013-16).
- James Steele (Director of the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity) was successful, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, in obtaining funding from the Leverhulme Trust for their project on ‘Learning to be Human: Skill acquisition and the development of the human brain’ (2010-2013).
- Dorian Fuller has obtained a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) research project grant for research on the evolution of rice systems from China to Southeast Asia. Read more»
- Dorian had previously received major NERC funding for research on ‘The Identification of Rice in Prehistory’ (2009-2012).
Postdoctoral research has been significantly developed through external research funding. Since 2008 34 postdoctoral researchers have been funded by external grants. Six of this postdoctoral group have gone on to lectureships, 28 are either still employed as Institute researchers or in research or curatorial positions elsewhere. The Institute has continued to be successful in attracting PhD students, with >100 fee-paying students currently registered, from >25 different countries.