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Gathering Field Archaeology Data - ARC00020M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jim Leary
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

How do we gather archaeological data in the field? What makes a great excavation? How do we value archaeology? Who pays for archaeology? What are the logistical challenges, the legal requirements, and the ethics involved in doing archaeology? These are just some of the many questions we will debate during this module. Whether you want to work in the field, in a lab, or in a museum, whether you want to remain in academia or enter the world of development-led, local government, or central government archaeology, this module will provide you with the skills you need for a lifetime of archaeological adventure. Its partner module ‘Analysing Field Archaeology Data’ runs in the Spring Term.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module will give students a thorough knowledge of the processes of data gathering in field archaeology in the UK and beyond

  • to bridge the gap between professional and research communities

  • To provide students with a thorough knowledge of how, and why, archaeological fieldwork has developed over time

  • to acquaint students with the major concepts and methodologies employed within modern fieldwork, and to understand their impact on and data gathering

  • To give students the contextual knowledge and understanding of field methods required to make informed decisions in the design and management of archaeological projects, thus generating the detailed vocational skills required for developing a career in the archaeological profession, whether in the UK or beyond

  • to develop the student’s ability to gather and organise information and arguments in a critical and independent manner through writing essays or producing project

  • to develop the student s presentational skills through the delivery of seminar papers

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should

  • understand the organisational and legislative context within which fieldwork operates

  • display an understanding of how the skills needed in reconnaissance, evaluation and full scale fieldwork might be best deployed

  • comprehend the main players involved in curating and commercially investigating the archaeological heritage

  • gain a detailed knowledge of the varied techniques of site evaluation used today

  • become aware of the practicalities, and problems, of implementing archaeological projects and understood the implications of this for strategy and project design

  • enhance their skills in small group work and oral presentations

Module content

This module seeks to provide students with an understanding of the context within which archaeological fieldwork now takes place in the profession and the implications of this for how it is planned and carried out. In addition, it aims to develop understanding of the archaeological resource and the key methods of reconnaissance, data acquisition and recording methodologies that might be deployed in order to successfully procure data in a variety of situations.

The module will consider these techniques, within their legislative context, from a number of different perspectives in the archaeological sector (curator, commercial consultant and commercial contractor), as well as exploring the difference between ‘commercial archaeology’ and ‘research archaeology’ (and the extent to which this is a useful or valid dichotomy anyway). This is all done with a view to informing decision making in any subsequent role you have in designing and managing archaeological projects.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 6 weeks

Indicative reading

The recent Association of Local Government and Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) report here.

Flatman, J. and Perring, D., 2013. The National Planning Policy Framework and Archaeology: A Discussion. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, 22, pp.4–10.

Darvill T. et al. (2019) Historic Landscapes and Mental Well-being. Archaeopress.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.