Field Excavation and Recovery Methods - SACO8190

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 7 30 (15) Patrick Mahoney checkmark-circle


This module will teach you the steps from finding human remains (mapping and carrying out a survey) to taking the remains into the lab for analysis. You will gain experience in designing and laying out an excavation grid, learning how to record and photograph human remains and contextual evidence found in the field. Finally you will have hands on learning experience in recording and bagging the finds and creating a chain of evidence. This module will look at the challenges of a single and multiple burials and mass disasters.


Contact hours

Private Study: 260
Contact Hours: 40
Total: 300


Compulsory to :
MSc Forensic Osteology and Field Recovery Methods

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Field Report (3500 words) (40%)*
On site evaluation (20%)*
Lab notebook (2500 words) (40%)

*Unrepeatable elements (Field Report 40% and On Site Evaluation 10%) are part of professional training and cannot be resat.

Reassessment methods
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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (

• Hestler, T.R., Shafer, H.J and Feder, K.L. (2009) Field Methods in Archaeology:7th edition Routledge
• Dupras, T.L., Schultz, J.J., Wheeler, S.M. and Williams, L.J. 2011 Forensic Recovery of Human Remains: Archaeological Approaches
Relevant journal articles will be part of the weekly reading lists - updated each year.

Learning outcomes

Subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Have a systematic understanding of how to survey and knowledge of identification methods
2. Have comprehensive understanding of how to record burial layout, orientation and location of human remains and contextual evidence.
3. Have comprehensive understanding of how to excavate human remains and how to recover contextual evidence.
4. Have systematic understanding of how to photographing, label and bag human remains and contextual evidence.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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