Accessibility statement

Field Archaeology


Module leader: Jim Leary


This module will introduce you to the techniques employed by archaeologists to discover, survey and evaluate sites and landscapes. It will also give you hands-on experience of fieldwork.

Module credit: 20 credits
Teaching methods: 16 lectures (1 hour each)
Practical element: You will spend time outside gaining practical experience in both the autumn and the spring terms. In Week 4 of the autumn term you will spend 2 days undertaking fieldwalking, and in the last week of the spring term you will spend 4 days getting experience of geophysics, landscape and earthwork survey and building recording. (6 days of practical experience in total).

Taught across the Autumn and Spring term, this module gives you all the background you need to feel confident in the excavation in Summer term.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module and its assessment, students should be able to:

  • be aware of the planning process and approaches to project design
  • appreciate the range of non-invasive techniques that archaeologists employ 
  • understand approaches to fieldwalking and the practical application of these
  • participate in laying out grids and fieldwalking techniques
  • recognise a range of artefacts and their significance for evaluation 
  • understand the process and assist with a general survey of landscape features
  • understand the method and assist with geophysical survey
  • describe methods of building recording
  • recognise forms of representation in building recording
  • have a basic knowledge of the structural elements of buildings  
  • contribute to the recording of a plan and elevation of an upstanding building


This module will prepare you for the world of field archaeology but it does not simply cover practical aspects - there are a number of employability skills that you will develop over the duration of the module:
  • Self management: it is important that you plan your time and dedicate about 10 hours a week to reading and preparing for formative and summative assessment
  • Communication: through written work you will be need to develop the way in which you present information clearly and concisely
  • Team working: this is a very important skill and you will have to co-operate with others in your group during the practical parts of the module
  • Problem solving: following the lecture part of the course, you will be able to apply your knowledge in practice which will involve collation and analysis of data
  • World of work awareness: this module will give you an insight into how the practical side of archaeology works
  • Application of IT: you will be given an insight into a variety of software applications and how these can be used
  • Application of numeracy: you will be given an insight into how data is analysed and presented

Field archaeology was really helpful and organised. I learnt a lot and enjoyed it.