Accessing Archaeology


Module leader: Alice Toso


Accessing Archaeology is a course which introduces you to how we actually do archaeology. Although all archaeologists are interested in the people of the past and their material culture, they draw on a diverse and exciting range of sources in their research.

The course consists of a series of seminar-workshops and site visits, taught by academic staff and other researchers in the department (Graduate Teaching Assistants). This course is designed to introduce you to the different ways in which archaeologists study the past, and the different sources of archaeological data which they use to do so. 

Each seminar introduces you to the nature of the archaeological evidence for a particular type of archaeological site or subject and the ways in which archaeologists have interpreted such data. Examples are drawn from both Prehistoric and Historical archaeology in the British Isles and overseas, and the sources we use include broad syntheses and surveys, as well as excavation and finds reports.  You will have the oppportunity to work with real archaeological objects and sources, and to make short group presentations to the class.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • describe the characteristics of archaeological data generated by particular kinds of site or forms of material culture
  • explain the methods by which different forms of archaeological data are studied by archaeologists
  • select, synthesise and present archaeological data orally and in written seminar papers
  • appraise and debate archaeological data presented to you by others


In this module, from the very start of your degree, you will be practising important skills which will be assessed later on in the programme but importantly which will be of use to you after your degree, whether you decide to continue in academia, or go into a job, of whatever type. The key skills you will be learning in this module are:
  • Self management: you will need to learn to plan your reading and prepare for the seminars
  • Communication: you will be learning to communicate verbally in seminars, and through essay writing
  • Team working: you will be working with others to prepare your seminar presentations
  • Problem solving: within classes you will be learning how to analyse data
  • Application of IT: you will be using PowerPoint for your presentations and should be learning how to find academic papers through the internet
  • Numeracy: in some of the papers you will be need to be able to interpret graphs and tables

I really loved the hands on elements in the seminars.