Accessibility statement

Landscape and earthworks survey


Module leader:  Helen Goodchild


  • To introduce students to the range of specialist skills in landscape and earthwork survey
  • To explore the issues involved in modern survey practice
  • To provide practical training in the use of survey equipment: ranging from conventional techniques, though to 'Total station' (TST) and GNSS (GPS) survey

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the core skills of landscape survey and earthworks survey, which have traditionally been known as “field survey”, but are now more commonly called “topographic survey”, especially in the world of commercial archaeology. These skills are fundamentally very accessible, because they rely largely upon visual observation and analysis; the technique is therefore particularly appropriate for research by ‘amateur enthusiasts’. Yet it is a specialism that is generally practiced to a very low standard in today’s commercial sector and is not widely practiced outside the UK. Students will be introduced to a range of survey approaches and methods by taking part in a ‘live’ field research project. We will explore the integration of different techniques and, in the final session, the clear presentation of results in different media. Students will be expected to carry out some work outside the timetabled sessions in order to reinforce the skills taught in the practical sessions. This module meshes particularly well with Buildings Survey and Geophysical Survey, but should provide important insights for those taking other modules too.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should:

  • Students will gain an outline understanding of landscape and earthwork survey in archaeology at both a site specific and a landscape level
  • Students will be expected to display an understanding of the principles of conventional survey and modern approaches in the application of terrestrial and GPS survey
  • Students will be expected to display confidence in the use of specialist equipment including theodolites and GPS