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Practical Skills: Illustration - ARC00063I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Taylor
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will introduce students to the fundamentals of archaeological illustration. Drawing and illustration has always been a fundamental element of disciplinary practice and has always formed a cornerstone of visual media in Archaeology. Together we will consider different types of drawing and illustration for publication and archiving in Archaeology. We will examine how site plans and sections might be prepared for publication, the art of interpretative reconstruction, as well as the mechanics of illustrating artefacts and material culture using a range of techniques (analogue and digital) and conventions for illustrating different materials. All the time working towards producing a portfolio of drawings to a professional standard.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 2)

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The Practical Skills modules seek to introduce you to a range of skills in various diverse areas of archaeological practice and are designed to allow you to gain experience in a 'hands-on' manner.

This specific module aims to:

  • To introduce the various techniques and conventions used in the preparation of archaeological illustrations.
  • To develop analogue and digital skills in technical drawing and illustration for publication.
  • To understand the value of drawing and illustration as a fundamental tool for understanding archaeology and material culture.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module the students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to identify common artefacts, their material and composition and consider how they are made, how they have been used and make decisions on how to represent them in their illustrations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to draw artefacts accurately in pencil and ink using common disciplinary conventions.
  • Describe to record sections/plans/elevations in the field and be able to ink/digitise for publication.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of interpretative illustration and reconstruction
  • Apply the methods and techniques they have learned to design and produce a portfolio

Module content

This module will explore the techniques and value of archaeological illustration. Beginning with an overview of the principles the module will explore the value of illustration as a tool for ‘seeing’ the things we illustrate, we will think about who we are drawing for and what aspects of our material culture we want to emphasise and visually communicate to our audiences. Then we will begin to develop our style as an illustrator as we familiarise ourselves with various techniques and drawing conventions, before exploring how to visually represent different types of material culture. Finally we will spend time considering how we might create effective reconstructions and interpretative illustrations, before rounding off the course by developing skills in inking and digitisation as a mechanism for preparing your drawings for publication. Throughout the module students will be working towards the production of a portfolio of their work which will form the basis of their assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will work week by week towards their summative assessment during their activities in class.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: oral feedback from module leaders in class

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Drawing Archaeological finds, A Handbook. By N. Griffiths & A. Jenner with C. Wilson. 1990, Archetype publications ltd.

Approaches to Archaeological Illustration, A Handbook, By Melanie Steiner. 2005, Council for British Archaeology.

The Illustration of Lithic Artefacts: A Guide to Drawing Stone Tools for Specialist Reports, By Hazel Martingell and Alan Saville. 1988, Joint publication by The Lithics Society and the Association of Archaeological Illustrators & Surveyors.

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.