Diploma in Archaeology

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

Course overview

The programme aims to equip participants with a sound knowledge of Ireland’s archaeological heritage from the earliest settlers to the medieval period. The programme consists of lectures, fieldwork and project work. The programme offers a general introduction to the field monuments and material culture of some nine millennia of the Irish past. Participants are also introduced to the discipline of archaeology, its historical development worldwide, theoretical perspectives and methodologies. They will examine the archaeology of Ireland in general, and explore the prehistoric and historic archaeology of human settlement in their region.


Who is this course intended for?

The Diploma programme is open to anyone with an interest in the past. It may be of particular interest to first and second level teachers and others interested in the contribution of archaeology to education, local studies, heritage studies and tourism.

Key facts

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the Diploma in Archaeology and no previous knowledge of Archaeology is required. Candidates who are 21 years or over on or before January 1st of year of entry may gain entry to the programme on the basis of mature years. Candidates under 21 years should meet the minimum matriculation requirements as outlined in the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Duration: 2 years, part-time

Next start date: September 2014

ECTS weighting: 30

Average intake: Unlimited

Closing date: Extended to 29th August 2014

NFQ level: 7

Mode of study: Classroom-based

Course outline

There are six modules on offer within the diploma structure. Students are required to complete 3 modules each year.  

Year 1

Introduction to Archaeology: This module will introduce students to the discipline of archaeology and provide the theoretical and methodological foundations for later courses. The first weeks will be devoted to Exploring the Past, a series of lectures designed to introduce students to modern archaeology, its historical development, aims and practices. This is followed in the latter weeks by lectures devoted to Fundamentals of Archaeological Explanation where students are introduced to the techniques involved in archaeological analyses.


The Archaeology of Prehistoric Ireland: This module provides an introduction to the prehistory of Ireland. The first lectures deal with the first settlers in Ireland, the arrival of farming and megalithic tombs. This is followed by lectures considering the many developments that marked the transition to the Bronze Age, from the introduction of metallurgy to changes in the structure of society and ritual practices. The arrival of Celtic influences to Ireland and the process of Celticisation in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age are explored. The course ends by considering Ireland during the Roman era.


The Archaeology of Historic Ireland : This module introduces Irish archaeology from the arrival of Christianity in the 5 th century AD to the end of the medieval period. The weeks of Early Medieval and Viking Ireland looks at the period between AD 400-1000, covering topics such as settlement, economy and craft, the early Christian Church, and Ireland and the Viking world. This is followed by lectures on Anglo-Norman and Gaelic Ireland that deal with the medieval period in Ireland, covering such areas as the archaeology of medieval castles, churches and towns.


Year 2

Approaching the Past: This module deals with the different ways that archaeologists use archaeological evidence to explain past societies and social change as well as a field project where students learn the fundamentals of recording archaeological monuments.


Prehistoric Landscapes: This module focuses on the prehistoric landscapes of western Ireland and includes topics such as the megalithic tombs of the Burren and the Late Bronze Age chiefdom of Dún Aonghasa.


Historic Landscapes: This module focuses on the historic-period landscapes of western Ireland and includes topics such as Christianity in the west, secular settlement, and the towns, castles and other remnants of the Anglo-Norman and medieval Gaelic period.



A number of field trips are scheduled throughout both years, designed to complement each module.

Applications and selections

Applications have closed for 2014-2015.


A fees scholarship of up to 30% may be available for students who wish to upskill for the purposes of re-employment. Students must be registered as unemployed and in receipt of one of the following:

- Job Seekers Benefit

- Job Seekers Allowance

- One-Parent Family Allowance

- Disability Allowance

- Social Insurance Contribution Credits

- Community Employment Scheme

 Fee Scholarship Application form 2014-2015


Maria McHugh

Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development

NUI Galway, Nuns' Island


Tel: 091 492144

Fax: 091 525051

E-mail: maria.mchugh@nuigalway.ie  

Requirements and assessment

All modules in the Diploma are individually assessed. The assessment for each module takes the form of essays or projects during the semester or a written examination at the end of the semester. This is a two-year, part-time programme. Classes are held one evening per week with occasional weekend field trips.

Find out more

Dr. Michelle Comber

School of Geography and Archaeology

Tel: 091 492887

E-mail: michelle.comber@nuigalway.ie


Fees for this course

EU (Total): €970 p.a. 2014/15 (Inclusive of Levy)
Non-EU (Total): €1,470 p.a. 2014/15

A fees scholarship of up to 30% may be available for students who wish to upskill for the purposes of re-employment - see section titled "Applications and selections" below for further details.

Fees for all Adult Learning and Professional Development courses

Current students


 John Burke

Having completed the Diploma in Arts (Archaeology) at NUIG in 2011, landscapes have now taken on a whole new meaning for me.  The teaching was excellent and the field surveys I undertook as part of the course embedded in my mind a much deeper understanding of the lifestyles, culture and heritage ofIrelandand its global connection.  Connecting with the past has become much more meaningful for me now and seeds of curiosity have taken root especially as I picture in my mind the numerous routes by land and water where our forefathers travelled, feuded and toiled for survival. 

Past student

Liam Byrne

The NUI Galway Diploma in Archaeology course which I undertook on an outreach basis in Roscommon was excellent. The lecturers are all very highly qualified and genuinely interested in passing on their knowledge to the students. It is quite amazing how a visit to a ring fort, an old castle or a church site can take on a whole new meaning when you actually know what you are looking at. The two years just flew by. The course was a fantastic experience and the friendships made will last a lifetime! Very highly recommended.