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Using Archaeological Data - ARC00036M

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Taylor
  • Credit value: 5 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

  • This module will introduce students to the basic principles of relational database structures (the most common type of database consisting of a set of tables, containing data fitted into predefined data categories in columns) and explore their application to archaeological and historic environment data.

By engaging with databases and data management in archaeology, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of best practice in data management and the principles of database design.

  • Be exposed to the range of applied of data management technologies in archaeology, and understand the strengths and limitations of choosing, designing and implementing them, enabling them to make strategic decisions about data management at a professional level.

  • Acquire a basic grounding in the necessary skills to use and query basic relational database technologies, which will increase their skills as a database user.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of a relational database model and awareness of various database technologies available for use in archaeology.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of good practice in archaeological data collation and some of the common limitations of archaeological datasets.

  • Write basic SQL queries for defining, selecting and manipulating data.

  • Apply basic database design, entity relationship modelling techniques and SQL concepts to a database project for archaeological and historic environment applications.

  • Be able to describe and evaluate other (non-relational) approaches to database manipulation.

Module content

The practical elements of the course will work with a single set of archaeological data from the outset, selected from the ADS. Exercises will gradually build in complexity from week to week, and the assessment will be done cumulatively as students develop their ideas in class and as part of their weekly private study.

  • Week 1 - Presentation: ‘Introduction to Archaeological Data’ & workshop introducing basic DB nomenclature, spreadsheets & simple querying (SQL).

  • Week 2 - Presentation: ‘Introduction to Relating & Using Data’ & workshop building upon the previous week, migrating data to google sheets, and beginning to explore its functionality & relational capability.

  • Week 3 &4 - Presentations: Relational Databases & Exploring Alternative Data Management Systems’ & workshop introducing Microsoft Access, exploring querying (SQL), data structure (relationships) and DB design (data-types and validation) in more detail. As part of this process students will generate Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD) and Data Dictionaries (industry standard schema that define the way in which database tables are related and define the characteristics of the data to be housed in the database respectively).



Task Length % of module mark
800 word coursework
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Assessment will include the submission of an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) and Data Dictionary (all developed in the practical sessions), alongside an 800 word written discussion of the rationale behind its structure and summary of the data management needs it addresses, including examples of queried outputs.


Task Length % of module mark
800 word coursework
N/A 100

Module feedback

Timing of written and verbal feedback is published on our deadlines pages:

Formative assessment

Summative assessment

Indicative reading

Reading lists are published to the module web pages or VLE.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students