Course Overview

Are you interested in archaeology, understanding the past and Ireland? This diploma is ideal for anyone with an interest in the Irish past, whether personal or professional. The latter might include primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, heritage employees, those employed in the tourism industry, and local government employees.

This on-campus course consists of illustrated lectures in the classroom, fieldwork and project work, with three single-day field-trips each year. These are all designed to offer 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. The course examines the archaeology of Ireland in general and the more specific prehistoric and historic archaeology of human settlement in the west of Ireland.

The Discipline of Archaeology covers a remarkable span of time and investigates some of the most profoundly important developments of the past. There is something to interest everyone - whether interests lie in outdoor fieldwork and exploring ancient monuments, the study of artefacts, the history of technology, local studies, or simply in the rich heritage of Ireland's past.

Mode of Study: Classroom-based

Applications and Selections

Applications are now closed for 2021. Applications for part-time courses will reopen in April 2022.

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Applications System. This course is listed under Adult Learning & CPD Courses Application.

Please visit our How to Apply page for Application tips and Supporting Documents information.

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Classes will run on Tuesday evenings (6:30-9:30pm) with occasional weekend field trips.

All modules in the Diploma are individually assessed. The assessment for each module takes the form of essays or projects during the semester or written examination(s) at the end of the semester.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements for part-time students can be found in our FAQs section (i.e. age, english language requirements etc.). There are no specific entry requirements for the Diploma in Archaeology and no previous knowledge of Archaeology is required.

Additional Requirements


2 years, part-time

Next start date


A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date


NFQ level


Mode of study

Classroom Based Learning

ECTS weighting




Course code

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.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Past students of the Diploma in Archaeology have taken a number of routes after graduation. Some have entered straight into related employment - joining commercial archaeological companies as excavators, or working in the heritage industry (as guides, in museums, in visitor centres etc.). Others have continued their academic studies, some returning to complete a BA degree, followed by an MA degree, and even PhDs in several instances! For those who had already completed a degree in any area, they completed a Higher Diploma in Archaeology (1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time), before proceeding to postgraduate studies.  

Archaeology graduates work in a variety of roles - as excavators, surveyors, researchers, in local and national government, as guides, in museums, in visitor centres, and in third-level institutions. Of course, archaeology now forms part of the history curriculum at secondary-school level, so the diploma also provides useful training for teachers.

Who’s Suited to This Course

The Diploma course 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.

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€969 p.a.

Fees: Tuition

€944 p.a.

Fees: Student levy

€35 p.a.

Fees: Non EU

€1,469 p.a.

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
  • Community Employment Scheme
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Signing for social insurance contribution credits

Please download the 2021_22 Fees Scholarship Form for more information.

Find out More

 Dr. Michelle Comber

School of Geography and Archaeology
Tel: 091 492887


What Our Students Say


John Burke |   Graduate

Having completed the Diploma in Arts (Archaeology)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.

Liam Byrne |   Graduate

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.


  • Adult Learning Prospectus

    Adult Learning Prospectus PDF (3.4 MB)

  • Short Courses Series 2021

    Short Courses Series 2021 PDF (4.9 MB)

  • Postgraduate Prospectus 2021

    Postgraduate Prospectus 2021 PDF (11.3MB)