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History and Archaeology (Certificate of Higher Education)

This introductory course in history and archaeology covers a wide range of historical periods, themes and regions, so you can choose to study human prehistory, Classical Greece and Rome, the medieval, Renaissance and early modern periods, and the more recent history of the twentieth century. With a choice of over 30 modules, you can pick the periods and subjects that really interest you. This course is ideal if you need to know more about history and archaeology for work, or if you are preparing to undertake an undergraduate degree, or if you are just pursuing a passion for learning about the past. You will learn how to study the past through both texts and objects and how to use a range of evidence - from prehistoric pottery to Greek sculpture, and Roman coins to medieval manuscripts. 

You will learn a variety of approaches, skills and historical methods, taught at the equivalent of first-year degree level. This certificate allows you to take the first steps towards a BA degree, working at your own pace and more flexibly than studying for a full degree.

Some modules are taught at London museums, archives and historic sites, giving you access to their rich collections. 


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research. 
  • Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching.
  • Our wide-ranging programmes encompass fascinating periods and areas of study, from human prehistory through to classical civilisation, the medieval and early modern periods, and on to twenty-first-century history, politics and international relations.
  • The Department is home to thriving student societies and a number of affiliated research centres that actively run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

If you successfully complete this Certificate of Higher Education you can, subject to interview and results, gain exemption from the first year of the following courses at Birkbeck:

  • BA Archaeology 
  • BA History 
  • BA History and Archaeology

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete modules worth 120 credit points. Most modules are worth 15 credits each, while others are worth 30 credits. 

Module groups

History modules

Archaeology modules

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    None. However, all modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If you need help, we offer a range of academic English and language development modules.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    Lectures, discussions, seminars and oral presentations, use of visual material, and individual and group work. Class visits may be arranged where appropriate.


    Your work on this course is assessed entirely via coursework, which forms an integral part of your learning experience and takes a number of different forms, including essays, book reviews, documentary analysis, oral presentations and learning journals. 

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in research, education or archaeology. This course may also be useful in becoming a journalist, archivist, museum/gallery curator or higher education lecturer.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.