Professional Archaeology: Techniques and Methods - CLAS6870

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


This module covers the battery of up-to-date fieldwork techniques deployed in the discovery, recording and excavation of archaeological sites using a combination of lectures, small-group work and practical assignments in the field. Topics include strategies for finding and recording sites, from the analysis of historical sources and aerial photographs, to geophysics, field walking, and the survey of earthworks and standing buildings. The full range of excavation techniques is examined including approaches to the excavation of special deposits such as burials and cremations and sampling strategies for the recovery of artefacts and environmental remains. The module concludes with post-excavation analysis and strategies for publication and dissemination of archaeological reports covering both traditional and computer-based applications. Students enrolling for this module should be aware that some of the fieldwork practicals may be outside, and occasionally off campus, and possibly conducted on, Saturdays or during the Easter Vacation (for a Spring term module) or Summer Vacation (for an Autumn term module), the specific arrangements being dependent upon weather and site availability, etc.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40


Also available under code CL621 - level 6

Method of assessment

• Portfolio (Level 5 – 4,000 words; Level 6 – 5,000 words) – 75%
• Archaeological Report (Level 5 – 2,000 words; Level 6 – 3,000 words) – 25%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Carver, M. 2009. Archaeological Investigation, London, Routledge.
Barker, P., 1993. Techniques of Archaeological Excavation, 3rd edition, London, Batsford.
Bowden, M. 1999. Unravelling the Landscape, Stroud, Tempus.
Clarke, A. 1991. Seeing Beneath the Soil: Prospecting Methods in Archaeology, London, Batsford.
Drewett, P. 1999. Field Archaeology: An Introduction, London, University College London
Flatman, J. 2011. Becoming an Archaeologist. A guide to professional pathways. Cambridge.
Gater, J. and Gaffney, C. 2003. Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists, Stroud, Tempus.
Harris, E.1989. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy, 2nd edition, London, Academic Press.
Roskams, S. 2001. Excavation, Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Wilkinson, P. 2007. Archaeology. What it is, where is it and how to do it, Oxford, Archaeopress.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module, Level 5 students will be able to:

8.1 Demonstrate knowledge of key field techniques and skills employed by archaeologists;
8.2 Demonstrate understanding of the principal terms and concepts associated with archaeological fieldwork;
8.3 Demonstrate knowledge of the principal methods used for the discovery and recording of site and monuments in the landscape, and an ability to critically evaluate these methods;
8.4 Demonstrate understanding of the ways in which different field methods and scientific techniques are integrated in contemporary field archaeology with reference to both survey and excavation;
8.5 Demonstrate knowledge of the principal recording techniques used within archaeological sites and of the nature and structure of archaeological archives;
8.6 Demonstrate knowledge of how archaeological fieldwork in England is organised, and awareness of issues pertaining to student participation in archaeological fieldwork;
8.7 Demonstrate understanding of planning guidance and legislation and a critical appreciation of how it affects the excavation and management of archaeological sites;
8.8 Demonstrate knowledge of post-excavation procedures and an ability to critically evaluate current and future trends in the archiving and dissemination of archaeological information.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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