Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)

Module ARCH56530: Principles of Topographic Surveying

Department: Archaeology

ARCH56530: Principles of Topographic Surveying

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2011/12 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Students will acquire a theoretical grounding in principles of surveying, and a working knowledge of modern surveying insturments (total stations and GPS equipment) and software packages for data processing and the production of maps.


  • Using the library and the internet
  • Academic writing skills
  • Oral and poster presentation skills, including powerpoint
  • Computing and statistics
  • Research studentship, grant and job applications including writing C.V.s
  • Macroscopic, radiographic, histological and biomolecular methods of analysis, and dating

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
    Subject-specific Skills:
    • Learned the principles of operation of total station and GPS equipment
    • Conducted their own field survey of an archaeological site using this equipment
    • Learned to process the field data using a range of appropriate software packages
    • Become acquainted with the range of Ordnance Survey digital data availavle via the Digimap system
    • Produced a professional presentation quality set of site drawings integrating their own survey results with OS data
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • Lecutres, fieldwork and practical classes
      • Lectures - Instruments and basic field procedures - Co-ordinate systems and control networks - Map Projection
      • Practicals - Arcview software for mapping - AutoCAD (x2) - Dedicated surveying software - using Ordnance Survey digital data - Combining field survey results with OS data
      • Fieldwork - Total station and GPS survey

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 3 one a week 1 3
      Tutorials 2 fortnightly 1 2
      Seminars 0
      Practicals 6 1 or 2 per week 2:00 12
      Fieldwork 4 1 per week 2:00 8
      Preparation & Reading 0
      Other: 275
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Portfolio Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 2,500 words 50%
      Report 20 pages 50%

      Formative Assessment:

      A written description of either a total station of GPS equipment, and a set of drawings based on a small survey carried out under supervision (1500 words maximum).

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University