Research Design in Archaeology (ARCM110)

StaffDr Marisa Lazzari - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

To provide foundational knowledge of archaeological theory and methods, with a focus on issues of reliability, validity and ethics in archaeological research.

To develop skills related to effective research design through the exploration of case studies and research scenarios


To provide students with a first experience with a range of research design skills applied to the development of their own research projects.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Develop knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of approaches to archaeological research that are required for the specific tasks of the module
  • 2. Develop knowledge and appreciation of practical issues relevant to the design of archaeological projects that are required for the specific tasks set in the module

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate familiarity with specific skills relating to data management and practice in archaeological research
  • 4. Show familiarity with a wide range of research design strategies in the discipline, and discern their applicability in a variety of contexts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Engage in public discussion with colleagues in a seminar/workshop setting
  • 6. Present developed skills in writing and summarising arguments
  • 7. Design and plan research
  • 8. Prepare posters, for conference or commercial use, that are content-rich and visually appealing

Syllabus plan

The module will include topics such as the following:

Introduction to history of archaeological theory and method; validity and reliability in archaeological research; methodology in experimental archaeology; research design in archaeology; sampling; managing datasets; integrating qualitative and quantitative methods; issues in historical and archival research; ethics in archaeological research; risk assessment and management.

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 and Teaching Activities147 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities21 x 2 hours Seminars (student led discussions)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities42 x 2 hours Workshops
Guided independent study130Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentations10 minutes, plus class participation1-5Verbal feedback (lecturer and peers)
Workshops on research design3 hours1-7Verbal feedback (lecturer and peers)

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
Research design702500 words plus abstract and supporting material1,2,3,4,6,7Written
Poster30A3 poster2,3,5,8Written and verbal

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research designResearch design, 2500 words plus abstract and supporting material1,2,3,4,6,7Refer/defer period
PosterA3 poster2,3,5,8Refer/defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Alley, M. 1996: The Craft of Scientific Writing. New York: Springer-Verlag

Bentley, A., H. Maschner & C. Chippindale. 2008. Handbook of Archaeological Theories. Altamira Press

Briscoe, M.H. 1996: Preparing Scientific Illustrations: A Guide to better posters, presentations and publications. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Davis, M. 1997: Scientific Papers and Presentations. London: Academic Press

Ferguson, J. 2010. Designing Experimental Research in Archaeology: Examining Technology Through Production and Use. U Colorado Press.

Johnson, M. 2010. Archaeological Theory: An Introduction (2nd ed.).  Wiley-Blackwell.

O’Leary, Z. 2013. The Essential Guide to doing your Research Project. Sage

Zimmerman, L, K. Vitelli, J. Hollowell-Zimmer. 2003 Ethical Issues in Archaeology. Altamira press

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Key words search

Archaeology, research design