UoA 33: Archaeology

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. Its 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 since the last RAE has won over 40 Research Council and charity grants over £10K and many smaller ones. Since 2001 it has been strengthened by the appointment of a number of talented younger colleagues recruited internationally to permanent positions, the establishment of a cohort of postdoctoral researchers funded by major grants, increased numbers of PhD students, and expansion of its taught Master’s programmes, a major channel of recruitment for PhD research. Significant investments in infrastructure include major equipment upgrades and improved postgraduate facilities. These developments have enhanced the Institute’s achievements since the last RAE and provide an excellent basis for the development of future research.

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.

Central to realising these aims are:

  • Its flexible structure of Research Groups and Centres with diverse research styles, including single scholar research, based on major groupings of research interests.
  • Staff appointments with a wide range of geographical and technical expertise.
  • Extensive international interaction through research, conferences and workshops, joint training programmes, international staff and student recruitment, and the hosting of visitors from around the world.
  • Research with practical and theoretical implications beyond academia.
  • Major investment in laboratory facilities.
  • A strong programme of PhD and early career development.



The thematic groups put in place in 1997 have proved their worth as foci for the organisation of research and the stimulation of innovative developments. Five groups form the primary basis for departmental research management:

  • Environment and Culture
  • Social and Cultural Dynamics
  • Heritage Studies
  • Complex and Literate Societies
  • Material Culture and Data Science


Since 2001 the creation of the Material Culture and Data Science group reflects the new investment the Institute has made in this area. Numerous period and area interests cross-cut the groups but are not formally structured, while particular focussed research agendas have been pursued through the creation of research centres, including the AHRC Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity (CECD), the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA), and the Centre for Applied Archaeology (CAA).

The Institute collaborates actively in other UCL research centres (e.g. the Centre for Sustainable Heritage, the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), and is centrally involved in the development of UCL’s new Centre for Cultural Heritage, Material Culture and Collections. It works closely with other UCL departments and other institutions within London, including the departments of Anthropology, Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy & Developmental Biology and the Bartlett School of Architecture within UCL, and the British Museum and the Natural History Museum, as well as MoLAS, and the London Archaeological Archive Resource Centre.

Major achievements since 2001 cover the whole range of archaeology; examples run from new directions in evolutionary archaeological theory through novel insights into early glass technology and the neuroscience of lithic technology, to major revisions of our understanding of south Asian agriculture, rethinking the origins of Classical art history and new approaches to the importance of touch in heritage object handling.

Quantitative indicators
Since 2001 UCL has recognised the achievements of Institute staff with 6 promotions to Professor, 6 to Reader and 11 to Senior Lecturer. Staff have published >50 authored or co-authored books, >40 edited books and 18 thematic journal issues, together with >750 book chapters and journal articles.

Competitive funding has been obtained from:

  • UK Research Councils: more than £4.079M (including £1.653M future value of grants obtained but not yet spent and £69.6K use of facilities).
  • UK charities: £1.79M (including £0.203M future value).
  • EU: £1.046M (including £0.406M future value).
  • Royal Society, British Academy and BASIS: £248K.
  • A variety of miscellaneous sources (e.g. Institute for Aegean Prehistory, World Monuments Fund): (£251K).
  • UK Government bodies: £0.631M (including £0.205M future value).  


The above figures represent a massive increase over the total of £2.529M for the period 1995-2001. They exclude income from the Field Unit (£5.37M since 2001).

Postdoctoral research has developed to an unprecedented extent through external research funding. Since 2001 25 PDRAs have been funded by external grants; 8 post-doctoral fellows have been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy. Six members of this postdoctoral group have gone on to lectureships, 13 are either still employed as Institute researchers or in research positions elsewhere.

The Institute has continued to be successful in attracting PhD students, with 112 fee-paying FTE currently (31/10/07) registered compared with 72.5 in 2001, even though the large number of newly appointed young academics understandably still supervise very few. Within the census period 102.5 PhDs have been awarded (this includes a small number of students jointly supervised with another Department and counted as 0.5) and structures are now in place to further improve submission rates.
Since 2001:

  • 42 students have held AHRC or other Research Council PhD studentships
  • 6 have obtained ORS awards.
  • 9 have received Marie Curie awards.
  • 2 have held UCL Graduate Scholarships.
  • 4 held funding from other UCL and UK sources.
  • PhD students from 27 different countries have registered including 21 students with scholarships from their own country.


Since 2001 the Institute has been extremely active in organising and publishing international conferences, in addition to the international recruitment of staff and students and the many international collaborations listed below. To encourage such meetings it runs an annual competition for a £2K award to support the running of a conference.  The in-house journal, Archaeology International, has an international circulation, as do Public Archaeology (edited by Ascherson, Honorary Lecturer), Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites (edited by Williams), African Archaeological Review (edited by Hassan) the IAMS Journal (edited by Rehren), and Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA), the graduate journal, all based at the Institute. Many members of staff are or have been journal editors or members of editorial boards (see Esteem).

Since the last RAE the Institute has hosted >100 foreign visitors for longer or shorter periods of time, from 29 different countries, including 21 from China. They have played an active role in the life of the Institute by giving seminars, developing collaborative projects and publications, and through interaction with staff and students.

Download full text of the RA5a statement for Archaeology (pdf 228Kb)

Staff names below link to submitted publications:

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Page last modified on 18 jan 08 13:27


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