Professional Archaeology: Techniques and Methods - CLAS6210

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


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
Total Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

• Portfolio (5,000 words) – 75%
• Archaeological Report (3,000 words) – 25%

Reassessment method:

• 100% Coursework (8,000 words)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Carver, M. (2009). Archaeological Investigation, London: Routledge
Flatman, J. (2011). Becoming an Archaeologist. A Guide to Professional Pathways. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Gater, J. and Gaffney, C. (2003). Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists, Stroud: Tempus.
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.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of key field techniques and skills employed by archaeologists;
2 Demonstrate systematic understanding of the principal terms and concepts associated with archaeological fieldwork;
3 Demonstrate in-depth 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;
4 Demonstrate systematic 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;
5 Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the principal recording techniques used in the field and of the nature and structure of archaeological archives;
6 Demonstrate detailed knowledge of how archaeological fieldwork in England is organised, and awareness of issues pertaining to student participation in archaeological fieldwork;
7 Demonstrate systematic understanding of planning guidance and legislation and a critical appreciation of how it affects the excavation and management of archaeological sites;
8 Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of post-excavation procedures and an ability to critically evaluate current and future trends in the archiving and dissemination of archaeological information.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Communicate to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
2 Plan and organise professional work independently;
3 Solve problems using critical evaluation and judgement;
4 Master appropriate resources e.g. professional level web databases;
5 Master methods, techniques and appropriate knowledge in the design and effective execution of a personal project.


  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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