Research excellence


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.

REF2014 infographic

Research Quality

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.

Research grants

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
Major UK research grant awards
research_excellence_ahrclogo research_excellence_leverhulmelogo NERC

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.

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