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GIS & Spatial Analysis - ARC00127M

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

Module summary

This course will introduce students to how Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are used in archaeology. We cover the basics of cartography and how to make good choices when making maps for presentation, as well as carrying out analytical tasks and some introductory model-building. Students will cover all the ground necessary to be able to manage and manipulate data for curatorial purposes, and begin to explore more abstract landscape approaches.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

This module aims:

  • To examine how GIS can be applied in archaeology, and to explore the issues raised
  • To provide a practical introduction to the use of GIS and its application in archaeology.
  • To enable students to carry out problem-solving activities with spatial data

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Critically evaluate the use of GIS in various aspects of archaeological investigation and analysis
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding in navigating and analysing with the ArcGIS software, and creating layouts at publication standard
  • Demonstrate critical engagement with appropriate spatial analytical techniques to data in order to solve archaeological problems

Module content

The course is taught via a series of online lectures and in-person practical computing workshops. It covers an introduction to geographic concepts and data structures, as well as cartographic techniques and principles, learning how to go beyond the defaults in presentation. It introduces the basic concepts of GIS, vector and raster data, symbology, and working within the GIS environment. We use data from real archaeological projects to show how GIS can be used to query and select data, edit data tables, and join data from different locations. Aspects such as georeferencing images, digitising data and cleaning data from other sources are covered. Students will carry out exercises in reclassification, creating contextual data, basic map algebra, and analytical approaches such as cost distances and viewsheds.

* Please note that this module requires basic computer literacy and, ideally (but not essentially), some experience using spreadsheets or databases. Contact the module leader if you have questions about your existing skills.*


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

Conolly, J., & Lake, M. (2006). Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology (Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511807459

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.