TARL Study


Some advice on how to study to become an archaeologist and how you can study archaeology at JCU.

What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of the human past through the analysis of the material remains left behind by past societies, such as stone artefacts, pots, buildings and skeletons. It is literally the 'study of beginnings' and aims to understand how current human societies came to be. Archaeology studies human societies around the world and over the whole period of human existence (c.2,000,000 years). Check out this interview with Professor Sean Ulm about What is Archaeology?

Does Australia have any archaeology?

Australia has a unique archaeological record of global significance covering the period since people first arrived here around 50,000 years ago. Archaeological finds include stone and bone tools, the remains of encampments, shell middens, rock art, shipwrecks and buildings. Archaeological remains are widely found across Australia and are studied by a large number of full‐time professional archaeologists.

Studying Archaeology at JCU

Can I really have a career in archaeology?

Archaeology is often associated with pyramids, explorers and far away places, but the subject has a large and diverse professional community right here in Australia. Archaeologists engage in a wide variety of work, from finding archaeological sites and excavating them, to scientific laboratory analysis of finds and writing papers and books about their findings. Australian archaeologists tend to specialise in one of three major subfields – Indigenous, historical or maritime archaeology. Most archaeologists in Australia work for public and private organisations to find, excavate and record archaeological sites and other aspects of cultural heritage affected by development projects, such as mining and construction.

How do I become a professional archaeologist?

To become a professional archaeologist you generally must have at least a Bachelor-level degree plus either an Honours degree in archaeology or coursework masters with a research component specialising in archaeology. This normally takes 4 to 4.5 years of full‐time study, with a 3‐year Bachelor of Arts degree and an additional 1‐year archaeology Honours programme. Around one-third of professional archaeologists also complete a PhD in archaeology, which takes 3-4 years of further full-time study.

Professional Experience Placement - Archaeology

How can I study archaeology @ JCU?

Archaeology at JCU is available as:

  • an Archaeology major in the Bachelor of Arts degree
  • elective courses as part of most degrees offered by JCU

Archaeology is a transdisciplinary field, so it is really good to pick up skills from other disciplines as electives or another major or minor while you are studying for your BA archaeology major at JCU. These are the subjects JCU archaeology students and staff recommend.

AN2013 Culture, Knowledge and Environment

AN2100 City Life: Anthropology of Urban Spaces 

AN3006 Anthropology and Development 

AN3008 Myth and Ritual 

BX2077 Project Management 

EA1110 Evolution of the Earth

EA2110 Introduction to Sedimentology

EA3207 Soil Properties and Processes for Science

EV1005 Environmental Processes and Global Change

EV1010 The Environmental Professional 

EV2502 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

EV3401 Coastal and Catchment Geomorphology

EV3506 Remote Sensing

HI2005 Environmental History

HI3284 Researching History in Australia

IIA1011 Indigenous Australians

IA1012 Indigenous People of North Queensland

SC2202 Quantitative Methods in Science

SS1010 Australian People: Indigeneity and Multiculturalism

SY2005 Qualitative Research