2020: 25th Anniversary of the BA Archaeology & Anthropology degree's first graduating cohort

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The School is delighted to announce that next year will be the 25th Anniversary of the BA Archaeology & Anthropology degree's first graduating cohort, that of 1992-95. We will be hosting several events throughout the year and hope that many of you, and especially the alumni of the School, will be able to join us in celebrating this significant milestone. 

After more than a century in which both disciplines were available at Oxford only at graduate level, Archaeology & Anthropology began life as an undergraduate degree here in 1992 largely due to the work of Barry Cunliffe, Martin Biddle and the late Andrew Sherratt from what is now the School of Archaeology and of Bob Barnes and Wendy James from what is now the School of Anthropology. The first intake consisted of no more than a dozen students, but numbers quickly edged up, helped by the establishment of dedicated tutorial fellowships at most of the admitting Colleges. Today, such posts exist at Hertford, Keble, Magdalen, St Hugh’s, St John’s and - in all but name - St Peter’s, with Harris-Manchester the other College that now regularly takes undergraduates for the degree.

What students study has naturally changed over the years, with three developments being particularly noteworthy. First, the degree now encompasses more extensive and deliberate integration of archaeological and anthropological approaches within both the first year and its second/third year core papers. Second, today students take three, rather than just, two options in Finals and their dissertation counts for two, instead of one, paper, allowing each undergraduate considerably more control over the development of their studies in the Final Honour School. Regrettably, however, changes in staffing have resulted in a contraction of the biological anthropological component of the original course, losing core elements in fields such as nutrition and disease as well as a well-loved option in primate behaviour. On the other hand, students now have much more variety in what they can take, including options in the archaeologies of Africa and China as well as the anthropology of gender, physical anthropology and human osteoarchaeology, and anthropology and language. And fieldwork opportunities remain as diverse as ever - from New York to the British Museum, Lesotho to Georgia, French Polynesia to Spain.

With an annual intake intended to be in the order of about 25, Oxford’s Arch & Anth course has just seen its highest ever number of applicants and remains a flagship expression of the teaching and research strengths of the two Schools that contribute to it. Former students have gone on to pursue careers in fields as diverse as merchant banking and the army, the diplomatic service, film and television, medicine, teaching, journalism, law, and the restaurant business. Others have opted to remain in areas closer to what they studied here, among them some who now teach archaeology or anthropology at other universities, among them Bristol, East Anglia, Jena, Rio de Janeiro, and UCL. Wherever you are, we look forward to reconnecting with you in the course of 2020 as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the degree’s first graduating cohort, that of 1992-95.