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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: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

Most archaeologists and heritage practitioners will be exposed to archaeological database management systems and spreadsheets in the course of their work or research. This module seeks to familiarise students with the fundamentals of the technical and theoretical aspects of archaeological data management, whilst making them aware of the types of issues they may face in the process.

Over the course students will learn what constitutes good data, become familiar with the nature and common limitations of archaeological data and database management systems, and begin to explore ways in which they can use their data creatively.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

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. Each workshop will include a short presentation on the week's theme as well as time for exercises and activities. Exercises will gradually build in complexity from week to week, and the assessment will be developed cumulatively as students develop their ideas in class and as part of their weekly private study.


Task Length % of module mark
Data Dictionary and ERD Report - 800 words
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
Data Dictionary and ERD Report - 800 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback will be available within 4 weeks

Indicative reading

Connolly,  T.M. & Begg C.E. (2005) Database Systems: A Practical Approach to Design, Implementation, and Management, Global Edition, Pearson Education.

Hernandez , M.J. (2003) Database Design for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Relational Database Design, Addison-Wesley Professional.

Hernandez, M.J. & Viescas, J. (2000) SQL Queries for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Data Manipulation in SQL, Addison-Wesley Professional.

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.