Essential Archaeological Methods (ARC1020)

Staff - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module introduces the most widely used methods of archaeological investigation and gives a logical progression through the archaeological process. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key techniques used in gathering archaeological evidence
  • 2. Demonstrate understanding of the different stages of the archaeological process
  • 3. Appreciate the contribution of science in archaeology and the role of specialist research

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Appreciate how and why different methods are chosen for investigating archaeology and their impact on interpretation

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Appreciate how and why different methods are chosen for investigating archaeology and their impact on interpretation
  • 6. Understand the relationship between methods, data and interpretation

Syllabus plan

  • What and where is archaeology: sites and landscapes
  • Seeing archaeology from afar: aerial survey and remote sensing
  • Seeing archaeology close-up: geophysics
  • Digging archaeology: excavation strategies and stratigraphy
  • Digging archaeology: recording and archiving
  • Dating archaeology: chronology and typology
  • Dating archaeology: scientific methods
  • Analyzing materials and assemblages
  • Spatial and numerical analysis
  • Bioarchaeology: plants and animals
  • Bioarchaeology: human remains

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning activity2211 x 2 hour classes
Scheduled learning activity0.25Individual tutorial
127.75Guided independent study, including reading, research and preparation for classes and assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In class tasksVarious practical exercises using Archaeological data1-6Verbal feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Exam601.5 hours1,2,3,4,5verbal and written
Poster40500 wordsallwritten

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Exam1500 word essay1,2,3,4,5referred/deferred period
PosterPoster 500 wordsallreferred/deferred period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Aitken M.J. 1990 Science-Based Dating in Archaeology.London: Longman.

Bowden, M. 1999: Unravelling the Landscape. Tempus

Brothwell, D.R. and Pollard, A.M. (eds) 2001 Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. Chichester: Wiley.

Drewett, P. 1999: Field Archaeology: An Introduction. London.

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 2008 Archaeology: theories, methods and practice 5th Edition. London: Thames and Hudson.

Shennan, S. 1988 Quantifying Archaeology.Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Wilkinson, K. and Stevens, C. 2003: Environmental Archaeology. Stroud: Tempus.



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Key words search

Archaeology, methods