Accessibility statement

Artefacts & Materials Analysis - ARC00113M

« Back to module search

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

Module summary

This module will cover the different types of analysis that can be applied to artefacts, from the point of excavation to the various post-excavation methods (microscopic, digital, biomolecular etc.). Therefore it should appeal to students on a range of different programmes, including but not limited to: MA/MSc Material Culture and Experimental Archaeology; MA Field Archaeology; MSc Digital Heritage.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module aims:

  • To provide a broad understanding of the different analytical methods commonly used to study artefacts - from the point of excavation to the various post-excavation methods (microscopic, digital, biomolecular etc.)
  • To enable students to assess which artefact recording techniques would be suitable in relation to specific materials, stages of analysis, degradation etc.
  • To equip students with the necessary artefact report writing skills needed for different sectors (academic, commercial, museums).

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of what methods can be applied to the study of artefacts: from conservation, quantification, microscopic and biomolecular techniques
  • Critically evaluate the challenges and potential of different approaches to the study of artefacts
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding of which methodological techniques can be used to study different stages of an artefact’s life history (e.g. provenance, use/function, display), including recording and presenting artefacts
  • Critically assess the different preservation issues and handling techniques involved in the study of the main types of organic and inorganic materials found in the archaeological record
  • Compile a critical technical report that meets relevant professional standards

Module content

With an increasing demand for artefact specialists within the commercial and museum sectors, this module provides essential training in the key archaeological approaches used to study materials.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: oral feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Caple, C. 2006. Objects: reluctant witnesses to the past. London: Routledge.

Henderson, J. 2013. The science and archaeology of materials: an investigation of inorganic materials. Routledge.

Mark Pollard, A., Heron, C. and Armitage, R.A. (2016) ‘Archaeological Chemistry’. Available at:

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.