Introduction to Archaeological Science


Module leader: Oliver Craig


This module aims to show how archaeology uses a range of techniques adapted from the physical, biological and earth sciences to better understand the human past. The lectures introduce some of the most recent and exciting scientific methods employed in archaeology through the demonstration of case studies. It is intended that this module will prepare students to assess published research and to be given a background to techniques which they may later wish to study in greater detail.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will:

  • understand the range of science-based techniques applied in archaeology
  • appreciate the potential and limitations of the major dating, molecular and conservation methods
  • be able to read research papers in 'science-based archaeology' with greater confidence and to understand the major implications of the research


This module uses different approaches to those learnt so far in order to make scientific approaches accessible to all students but many of these skills are also essential for the world of work. The skills you will be developing are:
  • Self management: you should be spending between 10-20 hours a week reading articles and working autonomously
  • Communication: you will be learning how to present information clearly and appropriately in written work
  • Team working: you may want to form study groups with other students in order to maximise understanding
  • Problem solving: this module is all about learning how to analyse and evaluate information that is presented in scientific publications
  • Social, cultural and global awareness: this module will present you with international case studies and you will build up a further appreciation of ethical issues within archaeology
  • Application of IT: during this module you will be guided through electronic journals and you will further develop your writing skills through critical analysis of papers
  • Application of numeracy: you will be taught how to understand data, and how to read and interpret graphs and tables.


I loved Introduction to Archaeological Science. if we had teachers like that at school half the world would be bioarchaeologists- Matthew and Ol are so enthusiastic and passionate about what they teach

Absolutely fantastic module- I have learnt so much and have decided to change to a BSc because of the enthusiasm of the lecturers.